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The best bird feeders (2023) - Which bird feeder should you buy?

Our bird feeder guide provides the best insight into the bird feeders for several categories of birds! By the end of this post, you will know exactly which feeders you should buy!

Cassin's Finch with a sunflower seed in its beak while sitting on a recycled plastic platform feeder
Cassin's Finch eating sunflower seed on our favorite feeder type!

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Bird feeders are a billion-dollar industry, and birdseed is a multibillion-dollar industry. Yet, feeding birds became mainstream only 40 years ago! How has this industry grown so large? Bird lovers buy feeder after feeder and pounds upon pounds of worthless seed and unusable feeders. Today, we put a stop to your wasted time and money! Today, we declare our independence... from bad bird feeders! Who's with me??


Oh, and before you ask, recommended birdseed, other bird foods, and birdbaths will be the following posts in this series on bird feeding!


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Not a fan of reading? Here is a quick summary:

Bird Feeder Category

Feeder

Link to Feeder

Best Overall Feeder

Woodlink Platform

Best Finch Feeder

Stokes Mesh Feeder

Best Hummingbird Feeder

Juegoal 12 oz Feeder

Best Suet Feeder

MekkaPro Double Suet

Navigate to learn more:


Why do people feed birds?

This is a tough question to answer, and likely every participant in a survey would offer a different reason. For many, the joy of having birds at arm's reach would lead the list. For others, feeding birds to help mitigate the impact of habitat loss may be important. Whatever the reason, feeding birds is a delight shared by over 50 million North Americans and can provide a connection to nature for those limited by their ability to leave home. Multiple studies show that interacting with nature can lead to increased psychological, physical, and spiritual well-being. Does feeding a bird a day keep the doctor away?


The best bird feeders | Attract more birds to your backyard

The platform feeder is, in our birdy opinion, the optimal bird feeder. Why? Diversity, variety, and flexibility! Platform feeders allow for: a diversity of bird sizes to utilize the feeder, a variety of foods depending on the bird species you want to attract, flexibility for the location of the feeder, and are the easiest feeder to clean with a simple, diluted vinegar soak. Plus, platform feeders do not require birds to put their heads into "feeding ports." Why are feeding ports bad? Tube feeders with ports have been shown to increase the probability of the spread of conjunctivitis. Platform feeders decrease the risk; however, during Salmonella outbreaks, platform feeders should also be temporarily replaced with mesh tube feeders.

With platforms in mind, we offer our recommendation for a platform feeder:


The Birds Choice bottom-mounted platform feeder uses a squirrel-resistant pole and will hold larger birds in a stable manner! These feeders are made from up to 95 percent post-consumer recycled plastic, are easily cleaned, and they allow water to drain through the coated metal mesh bottom. These plastic-framed feeders can often last longer than cheap wooden-framed feeders and are less porous, making them easier to clean. Plus, they are typically dishwasher-safe! Complete this feeder with the great feeder pole and feeder mount.


The Best Overall Bird Feeder: Birds Choice Platform Feeder

Online, the Birds Choice Platform Feeder receives excellent reviews! Getting online consensus on a bird feeder is always tricky, making this feeder even more impressive. It is dishwasher safe, so it is easy and quick to clean! Using a feeder made from recycled plastic also promotes better use of recycled materials.

For a tremendous secondary platform option (one that is more budget-friendly), I love the Birds Choice Color Pop hanging platform. The colors are stunning!


Best Tube Sunflower Feeder: Stokes Mini Seed Mesh Feeder

If you want to offer a sunflower feeder that reduces (even slightly) the risk of certain feeder diseases, a mesh tube feeder is a great option. Finches, chickadees, and nuthatches love this feeder, and the design allows for multiple bird use at once.


Best Large Capacity Sunflower Feeder: Perky-Pet Cardinal Bird Feeder

Our favorite large-capacity (>1 lb) sunflower seed feeder is the Perky-Pet seed feeder. This large feeder holds over 2 lbs of sunflower seed while offering a large perch for a variety of birds. While squirrels will try to use this feeder, it is not as desirable as many options.


Best Nyjer Feeder | Best Thistle Feeder | Best Finch Feeder

Thistle seed attracts finch species such as American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch, Cassin's Finch, and Common Redpoll. I have also seen Dark-eyed Junco and Green-tailed Towhee feed on thistle feeders. Since the American Goldfinch is widespread, this feeder type is frequently found in backyards. We recommend mesh screen thistle feeders for this category. Why? No feeding ports! Again, keep reading, and you will discover why feeding ports are the scourge of feeding birds. See more finch feeder recommendations here!

Here is our recommendation for a thistle feeder:


The Stokes Select 38194 Bird Feeder is a reasonably-priced thistle feeder and being a slightly smaller feeder (0.5 lbs), you are less likely to waste thistle seed. It is also easy to clean, with few moving parts. The Flocking Around Roost currently hosts three of these feeders!


If you are looking for a larger version, the Stokes Thistle Finch Screen Bird Feeder can hold twice as much seed (1.1 lbs). To shop around for other thistle feeders, you can check more out here!

Best Thistle or Nyjer Bird Feeder: Stokes Select Bird Feeder

For thistle feeders, the Stokes Mesh Nyjer Feeder is hard to beat due to its high online ratings and overall solid build. The wire mesh screen allows finches, chickadees, and sparrows to pull nyjer or thistle seed out of the feeder without pushing their head into a port. It allows air movement, preventing the nyjer seed from becoming too moist. This is the feeder that we use here at the Flocking Around roost. It is easy to clean, and a large variety of birds appreciate it!


The Best Hummingbird Feeder

Hummingbirds are the pinnacle of backyard bird feeding. These lustrous flying paragons (say that 3 times, fast) are fierce yet delicate, and they require a more constant effort from bird feeders. Check out a full article on the best hummingbird feeders!

Most bird lovers in the US and Canada do not see the hordes of hummingbirds that visit key migration sites. However, no matter your location, everyone has the opportunity to attract a hummingbird. Since you are unlikely to have your feeders mobbed by hundreds of hummingbirds, you do not need a 20+ oz hummingbird feeder. Why? The birds simply cannot eat the "nectar" before you need to replace it and clean the feeder. Our solution? The Juegoal 12 oz Hanging Feeder! This feeder is a small, easy-to-clean hummingbird feeder! Also, this feeder lacks yellow flowers, which some studies show can attract bees, wasps, etc. We have five of these feeders at the Flocking Around roost.


Our two favorite hummingbird feeders are:


Best Hummingbird Feeder: Juegoal 12 oz Hanging Feeder

The Juegoal 12 oz Hummingbird Feeder prevents the waste of food and the buildup of mold and bacteria. The feeder is simple to use and clean. This feeder does not screw together; it only pulls apart, making for easy cleaning. This feeder may be dishwasher safe; however, the instructions provided with the feeder do not specify how safe it would be to clean it in the dishwasher.


If you are someone who needs large-capacity hummingbird feeders, we present to you the 72 oz hummingbird feeder.


The Best Suet Feeders

Let's cut straight to the fat here... pause for laughter... If you spend more than $5 on a suet feeder, you have been had. This section is easy because there is nothing complicated about a cage that holds a chunk of fat. For a more in-depth breakdown of suet and suet feeders, check out the article on selecting a suet feeder!


We have two recommendations for suet feeders:


Best Suet Feeder: MekkaPro Suet Cage

The MekkaPro Suet Feeder is budget-friendly and STRONG. Do not be had. Be simple. Do you need more description? It is a cage that opens simply and closes simply. It doesn't prevent bears, squirrels, or raccoons, but not much does. Previously we had suggested a C&S suet cage; however, the clips and chain of the MekkaPro are far superior and longer lasting.


Best Squirrel-proof Suet Feeder: MekkaPro Double Suet Bird Feeder

We have had success using a larger cage to deter raccoons and bears, but this small cage should work fine against squirrels. Check out the MekkaPro Double Suet Bird Feeder!


Cleaning Feeders, and Avoiding Feeder Ports

We have written about cleaning bird feeders extensively. We will not copy and paste all that information here, but let us reiterate, CLEAN YOUR FEEDERS!


Now, I promised to tell you why to avoid feeders with ports. One of the most common bird diseases is conjunctivitis. The bacteria infect the bird's eyes and cause the eye to swell shut. However, before the bird's certain death, they can spread the bacteria. Feeders using ports require the bird to do what? Put their head into the port to collect food. The result is whole flocks becoming infected.


Best bird feeders for a small budget

These are some cheaper alternatives to our suggested platform and finch feeders. These are great start options if you do not wish to invest a large sum of money into watching birds at your feeders. However, please note that the Nyjer sacks will not last nearly as long as a metal Nyjer feeder. The smaller Woodlink platform feeder is a quality feeder. Still, it is lower in price due to size.


Our top two feeders for those birders shopping on a budget are:


Best Cheap Platform Bird Feeder: Woodlink LG GoGreen Platform

This is the smaller version of our favorite feeder listed above, hence the lower price point. When we initially ordered it, we did not know it was smaller (Zach skims too much), but we are happy it is smaller! It is our kitchen feeder!


Best Cheap Finch Feeder: C&S Products 3 Pack of Nyjer Sacks

The C&S 3 Pack of Nyjer Socks has a small sample size for their reviews. However, the cost is worth the risk! If you are going to use a sock feeder instead of a metal finch feeder, make sure to wash it and throw it away when it is in rough shape. The fibers from the sock can be detrimental to birds.


How to Mount Bird Feeders

We prefer to hang our feeders from existing structures/features. However, if you do not have a tree, bush, deck, or other structure, you need a shepherd's hook. These are easy to press into the ground, and they come in a variety of styles. If you live in a windy area, you may want to consider further anchoring the hook to a structure or the ground.


Best Bird Feeder Hook: Ashman Shepherd Hook 65 inch

The BirdsChoice Bird Feeder Pole with Squirrel Baffle is a pricier feeder hook option, but we here at Flocking Around tried the cheaper poles, and they were destroyed by raccoons. We now have BirdsChoice feeder poles, and not only do they deter squirrels and raccoons, but they also withstood a bear attack. BOOM! New favorite! It will likely outlive any bird feeder that you hang on it! We here at Flocking Around build suspension systems to hold our feeders, so we do not use feeder hooks; however, if you are less than handy, these work in a pinch.


Need to stop a squirrel?

If the photo below gives you nightmares, you know the scourge that is squirrels. You could buy the awful plastic shields that cannot completely stop a crafty squirrel, or you could use a cheap, natural, and tasty solution.

red squirrel on a bird feeder
A red squirrel sits on a feeder during a blizzard.

That solution is CAYENNE PEPPER. Want to know more? Check out our article on "How to Defeat a Squirrel."


Best Squirrel Deterrent: Happy Belly Cayenne Red Pepper

The capsaicin in cayenne pepper is a useful tool to keep unwanted mammals off of bird feeders.


Alternatives to Buying Bird Feeders

Not everyone wants to spend money on the limited options and versatility of bird feeders. I understand these concerns and offer two potential solutions below!


Build Your Own Bird Feeder (BYOB... F)

Platform feeders are quite easy to build. Like the one below, you simply need wood and fasteners (screws, nails, etc).

Suet feeders can also be fairly easy to build! With a few simple steps, you build something like what is pictured below.

  1. Find a downed tree or branch that is small to medium in diameter

  2. Cut the log to a length of 12" or less

  3. Drill 3-6 1 to 2" diameter holes in various places on the log

  4. Hang your new log feeder

  5. OR - try a premade suet log


Attract Birds with a Native Plant Garden!

A growing trend in North America is to take the 40+ million acres of turfgrass and turn it back into native plants and habitats. There are a number of organizations involved in this, but the National Audubon Society is at the forefront of the movement. Native plants provide natural food sources that cannot be matched by bird feeders, especially in the breeding season. Why? Insects. Nestlings need insects for healthy growth, and insects (like caterpillars) need native plants.


How to select a bird feeder

So, what is the best way to attract and support birds in your yard? Combine many of the bird feeders and techniques provided above, like implementing bird feeders and establishing native plants! A combination of bird feeders and proper habitat creates the optimal opportunity for attracting a wide variety of birds.


I hope that this post provided you with some solid starting points in your search for finding the perfect bird feeders. Every bird-lover has a unique situation, so some of these suggestions may not fit your needs! Luckily, there will be more extensive posts on each subject in the coming to the Flocking Around Feeding Birds section, soon! Or, read our next post in this series on selecting birdseed!


 

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