More than 45 million people across the United States watch birds both away from and around their homes. One popular way for these wildlife enthusiasts to see more is by installing bird feeders around their homes.
Not just any bird feeder will do, however. To be effective, bird feeders need to be safe and designed to attract local species.
How can you choose the best backyard bird feeders for your home? Continue reading to learn seven essential tips for doing so.
1. Research Your Area’s Native Species
The United States is home to twenty common bird species. Before buying the best backyard bird feeder, you need to research which species call your locality home. If you aren’t familiar with this nature niche, there are two ways you can go about figuring it out.
One thing to do is watch your backyard for a few days to see which birds are frequenting it already. You can also research online what birds are frequently found in your town, state, or geographic region.
A few birds are found throughout the lower 48 states and are likely a great place to start with your feeders. These include:
- American Robin
- Mourning Dove
- European Starling
- Northern Mockingbird
- Dark-eyed Junco
- White-breasted Nuthatch
- House Sparrow
- House Wren
- House Finch
Other birds are common in specific areas of the U.S. The Northern Cardinal, Blue Jay, and Tufted Titmouse are common in the East. The Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, and American Crow are found everywhere except the arid Southwest.
You can find Stellar’s Jays in the Rocky Mountains. The Black-caped Chickadee is common throughout the North and parts of the Appalachian Mountains. The American Goldfinch is located in the North, while the Red-bellied Woodpecker primarily lives in the South.
These are only the most common types of birds found in America. Other species, like hummingbirds, can be found in specific areas but are significantly less common.
2. Make Sure It’s Safe From Predators
No matter the species of bird you hope to attract, you want to ensure the backyard feeder is safe from predators. Birds have many natural predators, including cats. Backyard bird species can be preyed on by larger birds of prey, like owls, hawks, and eagles.
Avoid placing bird feeders on the ground or in areas frequented by predators. Also, be sure to avoid areas with many ants, bees, or wasps because certain feeders will also attract these.
3. Is It Sturdy?
You don’t want a flimsy bird feeder. Fragile feeders may break when landed on and could potentially harm the bird or ground wildlife. The feeder should also withstand most natural weather events, including winter or heavy thunderstorms.
4. How Easy Is It for Birds To Use?
Some bird feeders may look pretty, but really they’re just unnecessarily complicated. Feeders need to more or less mimic how birds would feed naturally.
Birds may adapt to some minor alterations, but they’ll avoid anything too complicated. A feeder that doesn’t attract birds will simply be a waste.
5. How Much Does It Cost?
You can find quality feeders at a price point affordable for most. Like with any purchase, however, you need to figure out how much you can reasonably spend on your feeder ahead of time.
6. What Type of Feed Does It Use?
Different types of feeders (see below) will hold different types of feed. The feed you need depends on what kind of birds you’re hoping to attract.
Hummingbirds and orioles prefer nectar feeders. These feeders use nectar, which is a type of liquid food. Contrary to popular belief, you should not add red dye to these feeders because they can harm birds.
Orioles don’t only eat nectar, but also fruit, as do tanagers. Varying types of jays and sparrows prefer seeds, whereas magpies and nuthatches prefer nuts. Each bird species has a preferred food source, so feeders will use different types of feed.
7. What Type of Feeder Do You Need?
Here is where it may sound complicated. Each bird species doesn’t only have a specific type of food they prefer, but also a preferred way to eat it. But never fear because a quick search online can help you determine the best combination for your local bird species.
There are many types of bird feeders, but four are the most common. These include:
- Tray feeder – an open tray that usually holds seeds but can also hold nuts or fruit
- Window feeder – a see-through feeder that suctions to your windows, generally in house-form (but sometimes tray form)
- Nectar feeder – a glass or plastic container with feeding areas on the bottom resembling flowers
- House feeder – a birdhouse that can hang or be attached to a tree or pole with an enclosed feeding area
Other types of feeders exist, and this list isn’t all-inclusive. The best backyard bird feeders for your home will depend on what your local wildlife most prefers.
Additional Tips on Attracting Birds to Your Yard
Creating an attractive backyard environment for birds can help bring more to your feeders. Here are a few additional tips on attracting birds to your yard:
- Install a birdbath (or two)
- Use bright colors around your feeder and yard
- Install a traditional birdhouse (which is different from a house feeder)
- Offer nesting materials in your yard (like string, pet fur, and hair)
- Install a perching stick (or several)
- Plant bushes, so birds have a place to hide or rest
- Plant brightly colored native flower species
More Questions About Choosing the Best Backyard Bird Feeders?
Choosing the best feeders for your home means researching your local species so you can attract them effectively. Feeders also need to be safe and sturdy.
Do you have more questions about choosing the best backyard bird feeders?
Browse our other posts. You’ll find blogs on bird feeders, backyard wildlife, and other related topics to help you learn more on the subject.