Bird watching is a worldwide pastime. Attracting birds to bird feeders can allow birders to observe different varieties of birds up close. Providing different types of bird feeders and seeds for the variety of winter birds in your area provides them needed nutrition. Feeders should be strong enough to withstand harsh weather, deter pests and other animals and keep seeds dry. Teach children to build simple bird feeders to encourage them to interact with nature.
Platform, or tray, feeders attract a large variety of birds. The feeder is a tray with a roof over it and holes in the bottom or sides for drainage. Hang them from trees or place them on a pole at least 12 inches above the ground. Platform feeders attract sparrows, doves, jays, cardinals and other ground-feeding and large birds.
Tube feeders allow smaller birds to feed from short perches without being intimidated by larger birds. Tube feeders can be cylindrical or square in shape and have holes large enough for easy access to sunflower or other bigger seeds. A nyjer tube feeder is designed with much holes and filled with thistle seed, which is attractive to finches and chickadees. Hang them from trees, porch eaves, or set them on high, flat, steady surfaces.
Nectar bird feeders are tubular and designed to hold liquid or nectar for hummingbirds. They have small holes so the liquid dispenses slowly. Choose one that is easy to take apart and clean, and clean them frequently to avoid fermentation of liquid, which can be fatal to hummingbirds.
Suet feeders look like square, flat wire cages with a pastry cake smashed inside. Multiple birds can cling to the wire mesh holder and feed on the high-protein and -fat snack inside. Hang a couple of these in your yard to accommodate both large and small birds.
Hopper feeders often look like little houses and hold a quantity of different bird seeds. They have bins under the trays to catch seeds that fall while birds eat. Fill the box with sunflower seeds or wild bird seed and attach suet feeders to the outsides of the house. The hopper can have perches for birds of all sizes. This type of feeder, more than most, needs a squirrel deterrent cage or barrier.
Designs of most commercial bird feeders are simple to recreate with common household items. Cut large holes in a gallon-size milk jug and hang by a wire to simulate a primitive platform feeder. A thrift-store tray or plastic plate can be drilled with four holes and wire ran through the holes to hang feeder from branches. Homemade suet cake can be applied to almost any surface, such as a paper towel roll or piece of wood. Design any type of bird feeder to attract and nourish the birds in your backyard.
- Photo Credit bird feeder image by Miroslav Beneda from Fotolia.com peanut bird feeder image by Alison Bowden from Fotolia.com 5 hummingbirds at a feeder image by Clarence Alford from Fotolia.com Bird feeder image by lefebvre_jonathan from Fotolia.com Bird House image by sival from Fotolia.com