When a bird’s natural plant food has waned or withered away, consider a few well-placed bird feeders. If you are interested in attracting certain types of birds, the type of feeder and food provided will make a difference.
Any simple construction with a flat surface, possibly lipped at the edges to prevent spillage and allow a suitable perch, will serve as a bird feeder. Add a simple roof to protect it from the weather. If you have cats, place the feeder high enough to be out of reach.
Four Type of Bird Feeders
However, if you do wish to cater to a specific kind of feathered friend in your area, consider four basic types of feeders:
- A platform feeder or a bird feeder with a built-in tray will lure ground–feeding birds like juncos, towhees, and mourning doves. Place one to three feet above the ground.
- Hung from a tree or mounted on a pole, “house”–style feeders with seed hoppers and perches on the side will usually entice grosbeaks, cardinals, and jays.
- Long, cylindrical tube feeders suspended in air will bring in an array of small birds, including grosbeaks, finches, titmice, nuthatches, siskins, and chickadees.
- A fruit feeder stocked with fresh fruit will tempt colorful birds like tanagers, orioles, bluebirds, and waxwings.
Wintertime Bird Boxes
In wintertime, consider providing shelter. Bluebirds—and more than 60 other species in North America—are cavity nesters. For example, bluebirds do not normally make their own nests and look for nooks and crannies in trees. But natural cavities in trees have become less available due to loss in habitat. To help, buy or make a “bird box” with small holes for entry and exist. (These birds don’t use perches so just a simple untreated wood box will do; pine wood is a good choice.) Winter birds enjoy a good suet, too, because their beaks do not naturally break open seeds and nuts found in most birdseed.
When can you feed the birds?
Any time of year. A feeder simply attracts feathered friends your way so that you can watch them. Birds get their food from a variety of sources and migrate on their own schedule so your feeding doesn’t have much impact overall. In the case of a bad winter storm, however, your feed could actually make a difference.
What can you feed the birds?
- We have a chart on what different types of birds like to eat. See Wild Food Bird Preferences.
- See how to make your own suet recipe for the birds!
Take a look at some fun bird feeders in our Almanac.com store.