Red-headed woodpecker on a bird feeder.A hummingbird feeder with red nectar.Bushtits on a suet feederAn empty bird-seed dispenser
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Seed Feeders

A birdfeeder, bird feeder, or bird table is a device placed out-of-doors to supply bird food to birds. The success of a bird feeder in attracting birds depends upon its placement and the kinds of seeds offered, as different species have different preferences. more...

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The most familiar feeders supply seeds such as millet, sunflower, safflower, thistle (niger or nyjer), and rapeseed or canola seed to seed-eating birds.

Bird feeders often are used for home birdwatching and many people keep webcams trained on feeders where birds often congregate.

Types of feeders

Seed Feeders are the most common type. These can vary in design from tubes to hoppers and trays. Sunflower seed or mixed seed are popular for use in these feeders and will attract many songbirds such as cardinals, finches, and chickadees. Black-Oil Sunflower seed is especially popular with bird enthusiasts. The outer shell of Black Oil Sunflower seeds are thin and easy to crack. In addition, the kernel is larger than striped or white sunflower seeds. Most bird feeders are designed to dispense sunflower-sized foods, but there are specialty "Finch Feeders" with smaller openings to dispense the tiny Guizotia abyssinica (Niger or nyjer) type of thistle seed, which is a favorite of smaller finches. Goldfinches are especially attracted to nyjer seed.

Hummingbird feeders, rather than dispensing seed, supply liquid nourishment to hummingbirds in the form of a sugar solution. This mixture often is colored red to attract birds. Some Hummingbird feeders have red accents or red glass to help attract hummingbirds. Mold tends to grow in hummingbird feeders, so they must be refreshed frequently and kept very clean to avoid harm to the birds, see the article on hummingbirds for more details. Ants and other insects are also attracted to hummingbird nectar. Smearing petroleum jelly on the feeder's hangar will prevent the ants from crawling down to the feeder below.

Oriole feeders, which are traditionally colored orange, also supply such artificial nectar and are designed to serve New World orioles, which have an unusually shaped beak and tongue. These orioles and some other birds also will come to fruit foods, such as grape jelly, or half an orange on a peg.

A suet feeder is typically a metal cage-like construction with a plastic coating that contains a cake or block of suet to feed woodpeckers, flickers, nuthatches, and many other species of insect eaters. Suet logs are also very common. These wooden logs have holes drilled out for suet to be inserted. Suet is high in fat which helps to keep birds warm and nourished during the cold winter.

Providing a varied array of tastes and feeding venues will result in less competition for food and dining spots, just as a well planned garden will provide many plants that supply different types of seeds and nectar. A very shallow, gradually deepening birdbath that is safe from cats, kept clean, and refreshed frequently with clean water to avoid mosquitoes can attract as many birds as a feeder. Although a clear area around it that is free of hiding locations for cats should be provided, the birdbath should be placed where a frightened bird can fly up easily to an overhanging limb or resting place if disturbed or attacked.


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See also...
Bird Feeder, Seed Feeders, Bird & Wildlife Accessories

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