- Bird-watching is a fun, rewarding, and beautiful pastime.
- To get those feathered visitors flocking to your yard, you'll need to choose the right bird feeder for the type of bird you want to attract.
- We did the research to gather this selection of the best bird feeders, whether you're hoping to attract hummingbirds, want to see orioles, can't get enough finches, or are just hoping for the widest variety of birds possible.
Taking up bird-watching as a hobby doesn't have to mean a trip to Borneo's mountain forests in hopes of adding the near-threatened Dulit frogmouth to a birding life list. It doesn't even have to mean knowing the difference between a house finch and a purple finch.
Bird-watching can be as simple as setting up a feeder in your backyard. Choosing a bird feeder, however, can be a bit confusing, as different types of feeders appeal to different types of birds. The same goes for birdseed, too. That's why we did the research for you and assembled this guide to the best bird feeders for a variety of common backyard birds. Check out the slides below to learn more about our favorite wild bird feeders and the different types of birds each attracts.
Here are the best bird feeders you can buy:
- Best hummingbird feeder: HummzInger Ultra Hummingbird Feeder
- Best platform bird feeder: Woodlink 3-in-1 Platform Bird Feeder
- Best hopper bird feeder: Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder
- Best window bird feeder: Nature's Hangout Window Bird Feeder
- Best thistle bird feeder: Stokes Select Little-Bit Finch Feeder
- Best oriole bird feeder: Songbird Essentials Ultimate Oriole Feeder
- Best suet feeder: Stokes Select Double Suet Bird Feeder
- Best squirrel-proof bird feeder: Squirrel Buster Standard Bird Feeder
Prices and links are current as of 12/18/20.
The best hummingbird feeder
If you want to attract these flying jewels to your yard, you need a nectar feeder designed specifically for them, and hummingbirds love the Hummzinger Ultra Hummingbird Feeder.
Pros: Doesn't leak, very easy to clean, can be mounted on a pole
Cons: More expensive than some other feeders
Native to the Americas, there are around 300 species of hummingbird, although most reside in the tropical forests of Central and South America. Roughly 20 species make their way to North America on occasion, however, including the ruby-throated hummingbird, Costa's hummingbird, Anna's hummingbird, and black-chinned hummingbird.
These tiny birds are amazing works of nature. On average, their hearts beat 1,200 times per minute, they can fly as fast as 30 miles per hour, some migrate thousands of miles each year, and their wings flap up to 200 times per second, creating the humming or buzzing sound that gives them their name. They are also the only type of bird that can fly backward.
While hummers don't only feast on nectar — they also eat insects, pollen, and sap — sugary plant nectar is their primary source of energy. While they are quite adept at finding enough food in neighborhood flowers, they definitely appreciate a filled feeder, as well. And one of the best hummingbird feeders is the Hummzinger Ultra Hummingbird Feeder.
The great thing about this feeder is that unlike most other hummingbird feeders, it doesn't leak sticky sugar water onto the ground beneath. It's very easy to take apart for cleaning, which is crucial, as your tiny visitors can become sick if you let the feeder become moldy. Bees and wasps don't seem as attracted to it as many other hummingbird feeders. A small ant moat on top helps keep these pesky crawlers away.
Hang the Hummzinger from its included hook, or use a small dowel or pole (you'll have to supply your own) to mount it.
There's no need to purchase hummingbird food for this or any feeder. You make your own by mixing one part sugar with four parts water. No red food coloring is necessary. The Hummzinger holds up to 12 ounces of solution and has four ports where the hummers can perch while they drink.
The best platform bird feeder
Platform or tray bird feeders appeal to a wide range of common backyard birds, can be mounted close to the ground or hung up, and the Woodlink 3-in-1 Platform Bird Feeder is one of the best you'll find.
Pros: Very easy to clean and fill, attracts a wide variety of bird species, sturdy construction, multiple ways to use
Cons: Like all platform feeders, it's easy for squirrels to raid and birds tend to kick seed onto the ground underneath
Use the included hanging wires and hook to suspend the Woodlink 3-in-1 Platform Bird Feeder from a branch, hook, or pole, fill it with a good general mix birdseed blend, and watch finches, redpolls, siskins, chickadees, jays, sparrows, titmice, and nuthatches come calling.
Or use the feeder's built-in "legs" to suspend it right above the ground, and you'll attract cardinals, juncos, doves, robins, and even northern flickers. You can also mount the feeder on a pole, but you will have to buy that separately.
This sturdy bird feeder is made of cedar, so it will last for years, even through rough weather. The bottom is a powder-coated metal screen that's fine enough to contain even very small seeds, but open enough to let dew or rain drain through.
Still, you'll need to clean the feeder regularly to remove spoiled seeds and bird droppings. Luckily, this feeder is a breeze to clean, and it holds up to three pounds of birdseed.
The best hopper bird feeder
Our favorite hopper bird feeder is the Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder.
Pros: Appeals to many types of birds, easy for birds to perch and eat, attractive appearance
Cons: Birds will spill seed underneath, can be a little difficult to clean
Hoppers are a classic style of bird feeder that attracts a large variety of backyard birds, including finches, titmice, jays, grosbeaks, chickadees, buntings, blackbirds, cardinals, and sparrows.
Hopper bird feeders have an enclosed space for the seed, but are open near the bottom so seed can spill out into some sort of tray. Hoppers come in a lot of different shapes, but our favorite, the Perky-Pet Copper Panorama Bird Feeder, is round with a very attractive copper-finish metal top and bottom that won't rust or weather.
Fill the hopper with up to two pounds of birdseed, and watch the fun begin. Birds can easily perch on the thick wire ring while accessing their meal. Gravity dispenses seed into the tray, so your feathered friends can continue to eat until the food runs out; there's no waste, as there can be with some other types of bird feeders. The top locks into place to keep out moisture, but there are drainage holes in case of rain.
You'll need to take the feeder apart to clean it once a week or so. A few buyers complain that it's not the easiest bird feeder to clean, but that's typical of most hoppers. The feeder comes with a sturdy wire cable for hanging, so you can suspend it from a branch, a hanging hook, or a shepherd's hook pole.
The best window bird feeder
The Nature's Hangout Window Bird Feeder will provide hours of entertainment for you, your kids, and your indoor cats.
Pros: Suction cups have a lifetime guarantee — if the feeder falls down due to suction cup failure, the manufacturer will refund your money
Cons: Only good for easily accessible windows or glass doors not covered by a screen
A window feeder lets you see small birds, including finches, sparrows, and chickadees, up close and personal. You don't actually need to have a backyard to enjoy backyard birding; as long as you have a window not covered by a screen, you can attach the Nature's Hangout Window Bird Feeder to the glass using its six powerful suction cups, add up to four cups of your favorite wild birdseed, and then sit back and wait for the show to begin.
You'll enjoy watching a wide variety of birds flock to your window feeder, and best of all, you'll be able to see them from just inches away. There's no need for binoculars to identify your feathered visitors!
The Nature's Hangout feeder is made of thick acrylic that won't yellow, weather, or crack, even in bad weather. There are drainage holes to keep seed from spoiling, although, of course, you'll need to take the feeder down every week or two for a thorough cleaning. But in between, the bottom tray slides out for easy disposal of leftover seed, shells, and bird droppings.
The best thistle bird feeder
The Stokes Select Little-Bit Finch Feeder makes it easy for finches to enjoy a meal while discouraging larger birds from crowing them out.
Pros: Easily dispenses seeds to goldfinches and other small birds, durable, easy to fill
Cons: This type of feeder attracts a smaller variety of birds than many other styles, so is best used in areas with plenty of goldfinches and related species
One of the most glorious sights in the spring is a male American goldfinch decked out in his bright yellow, black, and white breeding plumage. These small songbirds are a common sight across most of the country and are always a treat to watch. As with other finches, they can't resist the tiny black nyjer seed. Nyjer is best fed out of a feeder specifically designed to dispense the small seeds, such as the excellent Stokes Select Little-Bit Finch Feeder.
With a powder-coated-metal top and bottom, and heavy plastic mesh in the middle, the feeder will last for years. The mesh sides make it easy for the birds to cling to the feeder while pecking out their food. The top unscrews for easy refilling and cleaning.
This isn't a very large bird feeder, which is actually a plus, as nyjer is expensive. Unless you routinely have large flocks of goldfinches visiting your yard, a small thistle feeder provides enough nourishment for a few birds a time without creating much waste. Moisture drains out of the sides and bottom, but you'll probably want to take the feeder down when heavy rains are in the forecast, as nyjer spoils fairly easily.
The best oriole feeder
If you want to attract beautiful, sweetly singing orioles to your backyard, you'll need the Songbird Essentials Ultimate Oriole Feeder, as they don't eat birdseed.
Pros: Nicely designed to attract orioles to your yard
Cons: Only suited to one type of bird, which might not be in your area
There are several different species of orioles found in North America. Two of the most common are the Baltimore oriole in the East and the Bullock's oriole in the West. What all share in common, besides beautiful orange, yellow, black, and white coloring, is a love of fruit — particularly oranges.
That's why the Songbird Essentials Ultimate Oriole Feeder has prongs to hold four orange slices at a time, along with small wells to fill with grape jelly, which is another oriole favorite. Plus, the feeder contains a small reservoir you can fill with nectar. You can use the same one part sugar/four parts water mixture you'd feed to hummingbirds.
The feeder is made of durable orange plastic to attract the birds. It's very easy to clean. Just wash it in hot, soapy water after your visitors finish their fruit.
The best suet feeder
Hang the Stokes Select Double Suet Bird Feeder, and you'll attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, and jays.
Pros: Holds two cakes of suet, durable design makes it easy for birds to cling while dining
Cons: None to speak of, but suet quickly becomes rancid if fed during high summer temperatures
Suet, a high-calorie mix of rendered fat, nuts, and other bird-appealing foods, is appreciated by many birds all year round, but particularly in the winter.
Some birders only put out their suet feeders in the winter, when migrating birds appreciate the extra calories, and birds that remain in the area year-round need a reliable food source. But as long as the temperatures aren't too high, you can set out suet cakes all year long in the Stokes Select Double Suet Bird Feeder.
The cage-like feeder holds two cakes of suet, doubling the number of birds that can feast on this nutty, tasty treat. The powder-coated metal won't rust or weather and the roof helps keep sun and moisture off the suet. The double-locking closure prevents the cakes from dropping out of the feeder and helps to keep out squirrels. It's easy to wash the feeder clean, which you'll need to do between refills of suet.
The best squirrel-proof bird feeder
While no bird feeder can 100% guarantee that squirrels won't break in and steal all the seed, the Squirrel Buster Standard Bird Feeder comes pretty darn close.
Pros: As close to squirrel-proof as you can get.
Cons: Must be hung in a spot where squirrels can't simply reach over to grab the feeder while keeping their weight on a fence, tree, or other support. That means there must be at least 18 inches of clearance above, below, and to the sides of the product, forcing the squirrel to jump onto the feeder and trigger the baffle
It's a fact of life: Squirrels love birdseed just as much as birds do, and they are willing to pull acrobatic feats worthy of a Cirque du Soleil performer to get to it. Just about every backyard birder has experienced the frustration of finding an empty bird feeder swinging in the breeze as the bushy-tailed thief beats a hasty retreat.
There are plenty of tricks you can try to keep the varmints out of the seed: Smear Vaseline on the pole, put baffles over the feeder, or string a Slinkee around the pole. Unfortunately, most don't work. And while many bird feeders claim to be squirrel-proof, few live up to their promises.
The Squirrel Buster Standard Bird Feeder, however, really does beat all but the brainiest or most persistent squirrels. It's basically a regular tube feeder with four ports near the bottom, but wow, squirrels will find this to be a tough nut to crack.
The Squirrel Buster is made from chew-proof metal and resin, but the real solution is the baffle that drops down and seals off the seed ports as soon as the squirrel's weight hits the feeder. It will also prevent large bully birds from scaring away smaller songbirds. Once the squirrel gives up and leaves, the feeder springs back open so your feathered friends can continue to dine.
The Squirrel Buster's design keeps seed fresh and lets moisture drain away, so you won't have too much trouble with spoiled food. It holds up to 1.3 pounds of seed.
Check out our other great guides for bird-watching
The best wild birdseed
Bird feeders let you enjoy birding without having to leave your home, but to really bring in a wide variety of feathered visitors, you need to offer the right birdseed. We did the research for you and rounded up the favorite foods of several popular backyard birds.
The best birdbath
Most species of birds enjoy a good bath and take them fairly frequently. Perhaps more importantly, a birdbath not only provides a convenient spot for cleaning feathers, it also provides an easy drink of water.
The best binoculars for birding
Birding is an activity that requires the use of binoculars. But for a great birdwatching experience, not any pair of binoculars would do. We've rounded up five great options for birders of all experience levels and budgets.
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