9 Types of Bird Feeders: Popular Designs For Your Needs

Oriole eating fruit in a feeder

Last Updated: April 30, 2022

A wild bird feeder should withstand weather elements and attacks by predators. It should be easy to clean, refill, and suit the wild birds you're drawing to your backyard.

Does your bird feeder live up to those?

If it doesn't, you'd better invest in a new one, or your bird feeding experience won't be as fulfilling.

First… Learn about bird feeder types and the backyard bird species they attract.

Then… Go shopping!

Now, let’s get started.

Different Types Of Bird Feeders For Your Backyard Birds

Different seed feeders offer different bird food to different species. Huh?

We'll explain below.

1. Tray/Platform Bird Feeders House Finch on a wooden platform bird feeder in home garden

Tray feeders are the best types of bird feeders because they serve a variety of wild birds.

A tray feeder is advantageous as it's visible to birds as they fly over your backyard.

It can also be a ground feeder placed close to the grass for ground feeders like the northern cardinal, sparrows, jays, and mourning doves.

You can offer many bird foods in a tray seed feeder, from black-oil sunflower birdseed to cracked corn, fruit, and mealworms.

The drawback of a platform feeder is that your bird feed stays in the sun, snow, rain... There's no protection at all. 

Therefore, avians will find moldy, contaminated bird seeds if you don't clean the feeder regularly. You'd need a platform feeder with a screen bottom to drain water. Another solution is offering enough seeds to last a day or two only.

Platform bird feeders are so open that squirrels can host a party whenever they want. A larger bird may also bully house finches and sparrows. If there are such predators in your backyard, you'd better get a tube bird feeder so that smaller birds get some bird feed. Also, install a squirrel buster, which is our recommended choice for squirrel-proof bird feeders.


2. Log Feeders

DIY Log Feeders

If you love DIY projects, here's an idea. A log feeder is as open as a tray feeder.

Get a log, drill holes and fill them with suet or turn the tree log into a peanut feeder.

The drawback is that squirrels may camp there if you leave the tree log on the ground.


3. Window Feeders Two Goldfinches eating on a window feeder

They are the best types of bird feeders for drawing birds nearer your home.

As the name suggests, you mount window feeders on the window frame or your window with a suction cup.

One advantage is that the best window feeders prevent collisions witnessed with other feeders. Also, they protect small birds like titmice, finches, and sparrows from predators that come to platform feeders. 

Another benefit is the ease of refilling as a window feeder is just outside your home.

But, since birds feed as they step on the seeds, they may soil food with droppings.


4. Hopper Feeders Brown Sparrow eating on a Hopper Feeder

Hopper bird feeders shield the contents from elements like rain and snow.

They hold more birdseed than other feeders, so they're convenient for busy birders.

However, bacteria grow when hopper feeders get wet, so you may have to waste a lot of seed.

A hopper feeder attracts chickadees, jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, titmice, finches, wrens, sparrows, and grackles, among many others. 

Get a small hopper feeder to feed small birds while keeping out larger ones.


5. Hummingbird Feeders  Hummingbird Feeders along a house on a sunny day

The nectar in a hummingbird feeder is a water and sugar mixture. In summer, mix about a quarter a cup of sugar with one cup of water. But, in winter, reduce the amount of water as it's plentiful everywhere.

A hummingbird feeder should be easy to clean and large enough to sustain all hummingbirds on your property. If the mixture stays longer than two days, it'll attract bacteria and mold.

This feeder can be a plastic or glass tube with a screen as a bee guard on the feeding port. It may attract downy woodpeckers and warblers if it has a large perch.

6. Oriole Feeders A bird perched on a Oriole Feeders

Orioles love fruit.

Therefore, an oriole feeder holds a variety of fruit either transfixed or on a platform.

You can use it to offer slices of apples or oranges.


7. Tube Feeders Goldfinches feeding from a Tube Feeder

They hold bird feed in a hollow tube with metal feeding ports and a perch at the bottom. This bird feeder setup prevents squirrels and birds with thick beaks from reaching the food.

Species that frequent tube feeders include sparrows, finches, and chickadees. 

Use a large tube feeder to feed the larger birds like blue jays. You can offer peanut hearts, safflower, millet, or milo. 

A tube is the most popular decorative feeder design as it's easy to mount on a shepherd's hook or a patio. 

One concern with this feeding platform is the seeds that collect below the feeding port as they may attract bacteria and mold.


8. Suet FeedersOne Downy Woodpecker at a Suet Feeder

Suet feeders hold food in a wire mesh cage or a mesh bag that you nail to a trunk or suspend on a shepherd's hook.

A suet feeder will keep away bullies like starlings and grackles and draw woodpeckers, jays, and chickadees, among others. If it opens at the bottom, you'll see more species that hang upside down, such as woodpeckers and nuthatches.


9. Thistle Feeders Two female finches feeding on Thistle Feeders

Another name for these designs is finch feeders, and they offer nyjer seed. 

A thistle feeder resembles a tube feeder but without feeding ports. Instead, birds pull nyjer seed through the mesh.

Species you'll see at a thistle feeder include the American goldfinch, pine siskin, and lesser goldfinch.

Now you have a variety of designs to install in your backyard.

Let's answer some questions about different types of bird feeders.


Frequently Asked Questions

What birdseed attracts the most birds?

The Cornell Lab notes that sunflower seed is the most popular treat in backyards across the states. Seed-eating birds can crack the thin shell of black-oil sunflower seeds to enjoy the nutritious kernels. 

Striped sunflower seed isn't as easy. It makes an excellent deterrent for house sparrows if this wild bird is becoming a nuisance on your property.

Choose shelled sunflower seeds when you want a cleaner backyard or patio. But, they spoil faster and are more expensive.

As we mentioned above, always match the food to the wild bird you're hosting. The National Wildlife Federation says birds ignore blends with filler seeds like milo, millet, and sorghum.

Which bird feeder attracts most birds?

Platform feeders attract more backyard birds as they are easy to access. But, their open design also attracts squirrels and other predators.

Coupled with heated bird baths or a birdhouse, platform feeders make your backyard an avian paradise.

This video shows how birds are more attracted to platform feeders:

What is the easiest bird feeder to clean?

The platform feeder is a tray you clean fast, but it may take more time to clear fallen seed and droppings underneath unless there's mulch. Window and hopper feeders may take more time cleaning inside.

Some feeder types, such as nectar feeders, have liquid food that may leak when left in direct sunlight, so you may clean them more often when that happens.

To minimize seed wastage and cleaning time, use no-mess blends from Wild Birds Unlimited.

Final Thoughts

Feeding birds in your backyard is enjoyable, but there's a lot of work to prep your property for these visitors.

You have to learn about all species in your state, backyard birds and their predators, and the types of feeders to use. Some birds go to specific feeders. For instance, a Baltimore oriole uses a platform or nectar feeder. 

Always match the visitor to the feeder, or you'll incur more costs due to seed wastage or feeder damage.

Scroll to Top