How to Choose the Right Bird Feeder for Your Garden (Expert Guide)

Scott TaylorDecember 16, 2021
How to Choose the Right Bird Feeder for Your Garden (Expert Guide) This is the expert guide to choosing the right bird feeder for your garden. It covers:

  • The best bird feeder for different bird feeds
  • The best bird feeder for different bird species
  • Important advice before buying a feeder
So, if you’re looking to attract some chirping company, this is the guide to help you figure out the best way to do it. Let’s get started.

The Best Bird Feeder for Different Bird Feeds

Due to the differing size and shape of seeds, pellets and insects, you will most likely require different types of bird feeders when feeding different types of bird feed. For example, Nyger/Niger Seed will require a feeder with much smaller mesh holes to ensure waste is minimised. Here’s what we recommend for different bird feeds:

Mealworms

The best bird feeder for mealworms is a large dome feeder. Dome feeders have high walls and smooth sides which will prevent mealworms from escaping while also offering an ideal spot for birds to perch while feeding.

Niger Seeds

The best bird feeder for Niger Seeds is a thistle feeder. A thistle feeder has tiny mesh holes which ensure the Niger Seed is still accessible to birds without creating waste on the ground below. Thistle feeders are also ideal for attracting small birds such as finches as the holes are often too small for larger birds such as Pigeons and Doves to feed.

Fat Balls or Suet Blocks

The best bird feeder for Fat Balls is a suet block feeder. Block feeders come in a variety of shapes and sizes and will generally look like a small cage with large open holes. Birds will land on the cage, perch on a metal wire and then feed on the fat balls through the holes.

Sunflower Hearts

The best bird feeder for Sunflower Hearts is a PestOff Feeder. Sunflower Hearts are adored by a wide variety of wild animals, so it's best to keep them securely locked down. PestOff Feeders are designed with spring-loaded ports to ensure only birds can perch to receive the fatty goodness inside. They’re also made from heavy-duty metal which will stop other pests from chewing their way to your sunflower hearts.

Peanuts

The best bird feeder for Peanuts is a mesh feeder. Squirrels love nuts and will do an array of gravity-defying acrobatics to steal them. With peanuts, it’s always best to purchase a high-end feeder. What you’re looking for specifically is a feeder with spring-loaded ports and a heavy-duty metal construction. The ports will ensure only your birds can activate the seed draw on the front of the feeder, while the heavy-duty metal will stop squirrels chewing through the wire to get to juicy fatty goodness on the inside.

Suet Pellets

The best bird feeder for Suet Pellets is a mesh feeder. The mesh is ideal for containing the suet pellets as the birds peck away for their daily feed. Try to find one made of a good quality metal so you can clean it easily if the suet melts during the summer.

The Best Bird Feeder for Different Bird Species

Every bird is different, not only in size and appearance but also in how they prefer to feed. Some birds like to forage on the ground searching for worms, while others prefer stalking the trees for nuts or berries. You'll also find that some birds are happier to feed out in the open, while others prefer to stay hidden away undercover.

So, when it comes to feeding birds, it’s important to understand that the type of feeder you use will help you attract different types of birds. Here’s what we recommend.

Seed feeders

If you want an all-round feeder that attracts a wide variety of birds, we recommend going for a standard seed feeder. A seed feeder can attract many different species to your garden, including sparrows, tits, finches and siskins. To reduce waste, we’d recommend purchasing a seed feeder with a bottom tray. This will help catch dropped feeds and also offer a place to perch for larger birds.

Seed feeders are best for sparrows, tits, finches and siskins.

Ground Feeders

Many birds are evolutionarily designed to forage for food on the ground. These are usually insectivorous birds such as Blackbirds, Robins and Wrens, which enjoy a healthy diet of worms and other insects. If you’re desperate to attract these birds, we’d recommend feeding via a Ground Feeder. One thing to keep in mind is the risk to birds from cats while feeding on the ground. Ensure your ground feeder is kept away from bushes or trees where cats can stalk and potentially harm the birds.

Ground feeders are best for blackbirds, thrushes, robins and wrens

Mesh Feeder

Mesh feeders should be used when feeding peanuts or suet pellets. The mesh requires the bird to peck at the feed, breaking it down into smaller chunks and reducing the chance that the bird will choke. For birds that love nuts, such as Woodpeckers, Nuthatches and Tits, we’d recommend feeding via a Mesh Feeder instead of a Seed Feeder.

Mesh Feeders are best for Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Tits

Thistle Feeders

Smaller birds often have a hard time competing for seed feeders. To cater exclusively to smaller birds such as the Goldfinch, Siskin or Greenfinch, we’d recommend using a Thistle Feeder. These feeders have tiny holes which make it harder for larger birds to peck through. This offers the advantage to smaller birds with soft beaks to peck through the holes and grab their feed.
Thistle feeders are best for goldfinches, siskins and greenfinches.

Important Advice Before Buying a Bird Feeder

Feeding your wild garden birds is great fun for all the family, but you must be feeding as safely as possible. In some cases, feeding birds in the wrong manner can lead to poor health and deteriorating numbers in your local bird populations. Here are some important considerations to keep in mind before buying a bird feeder.

1. Consider the location of the feeder carefully

The location of your feeder is vital to not only attracting birds, but also keeping them safe from predators. Exposed areas that receive lots of wind will deter birds, while areas near bushes will leave your birds exposed to cats.
Consider purchasing a purpose-built seed feeder platform to offer you more variety in where you place your feeder.

2. Clean the feeder regularly

Good hygiene around feeders and bird baths is so important. Birds are notorious for carrying germs and bugs, which can be harmful to other birds. The heat of the summer months will also spoil food quickly, which can poison your local bird population.

For these reasons, we’d recommend giving your feeder a good clean between each feed. Try to rinse it off with a good quality washing up liquid and clean water before replacing the food.

3. Be aware of predators

Both squirrels and cats can be a real problem when feeding garden birds. Squirrels are voracious eaters and will destroy your feeders to fill their appetite. Cats are also a notorious problem for birds and will decimate local bird populations.

To tackle squirrels, we’d advise buying a good quality ‘squirrel-proof’ feeder. You should also try to keep your feeder away from low lying branches.

To help protect your birds from cats, we’d recommend keeping feeders 6 feet above the ground and away from any obvious launching points such as bushes, which a cat can use as cover.