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Birds are fascinating wildlife and endlessly enjoyable to watch. The best bird feeders will not only help support the local bird population, they will bring these delightful animals into your yard and into your trees, making bird watching possible from the comfort of your home. Feeders can be especially useful to birds in the late winter and early spring when their natural food sources are scarce. With so many feeders on the market, we’ll explain the differences and help you find a beautiful, durable feeder sure to bring you hours of viewing enjoyment. 

What to look for when shopping for the best bird feeders

Narrowing down the best bird feeders requires you to consider the types of bird species you want to attract, the frequency of maintenance that is realistic for you, your overall budget, and the best location around your home. Backyard bird enthusiasts know that adding a feeder will not only attract birds, but any other wildlife that thinks they can steal a quick meal. If squirrels are a concern for you, consider a squirrel-proof bird feeder. Nectar-style bird feeders should be drip-proof to prevent unwanted ants and bees. 

Picking the perfect location will also affect how you shop. A bird feeder pole can be installed anywhere, while hanging style feeders require either a tree branch, or another structure to allow for hook installation. Choosing a location that will keep your birds safe is important as well: low feeders near bushes can set birds up to be attacked by cats, while hanging feeders too far away from cover can endanger birds from other predators such as hawks. If you want to try and get the closest view you can for birdwatching, consider a window bird feeder which uses a translucent design suction cupped to your window. We’ve selected some of the best bird feeders on the market for your consideration.

Hoping to attract tiny hummingbirds to your yard? There’s a hummingbird feeder for that

If you want to get the chance to view one of nature’s most amazing small birds zipping around, hovering, or even flying backwards (they are the only birds that can), you can add a hummingbird feeder to your yard. The best hummingbird feeders are brightly colored (evidence suggests bright red, yellow, and orange feeders work best),  easy to fill with nectar, and offer a drip- and leak-proof design that only a hummingbird can reach. 

Hummingbirds spend their lives searching and consuming food. In fact, they need to drink nectar every ten minutes to maintain their fast metabolism. You can make your own nectar at home using granulated sugar and water, or buy a premade nectar. Hummingbirds can visit 1,000 to 2,000 flowers a day in search of their food, which means that regardless of where the nectar comes from, they will be grateful for the easy energy from a well stocked feeder. Known for their amazing memories, hummingbirds are able to remember nectar locations and may pay a visit to your feeder during their migrations. 

To make your yard a hummingbird’s paradise, garden experts advise luring the birds with nectar-producing flowers, either planted in the ground or in pots and planters. Once in your yard, they will discover your feeder and will be sure to remember their new feeding spot. It’s best to keep your feeder in the partial shade to avoid any spoiling of nectar. To keep ants and bees at bay, keep the exterior of the feeder clean and dry, and give it a wash every one to two weeks with warm soap and water.

Best hummingbird feeder: Perky-Pet 8116-2 Red

Vintage Look

Affordable, quaint look with a large 24-ounce capacity. Amazon

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This antique-looking hummingbird feeder comes in several vibrant colors, and holds a sizable 24 ounces of nectar. It’s easy to fill and screw on, although the small opening does require the use of a bottle brush for deep cleaning. Take care when cleaning, as this bottle is actually clear glass that is painted to attract more birds.

Related: 4 cool and unexpected facts about cardinals

Looking for up close and personal bird watching? Peer out at a window bird feeder

Take the squinting and the binoculars out of the equation, and bring the birds to you with the best window bird feeder. Window bird feeders are typically constructed out of clear acrylic and mount directly to your window with suction cups. There really is no closer way to attract birds, other than the birds being inside your home (which we don’t recommend). 

The best window bird feeders are lightweight, just large enough to house your feeding bluebird, and constructed out of good-quality clear acrylic. Look for window feeders that have a pitched roof design to provide shelter from snow and rain. Another important feature is a feeding tray that includes drainage holes. If any water enters the feeder, it will drain away, which will help prevent the seeds from spoiling. 

Most window bird feeders are not designed to be squirrel-proof, so if that’s a concern you may need to experiment with different windows and heights to try and prevent these crafty critters from leaping or dangling onto the window feeder for stolen snacks. Window bird feeders are usually affordable, and a fun way to experiment with bird watching. Reviewers rave about how much children and house cats enjoy these as well. 

Best window bird feeder: Nature Gear Window Bird Feeder

High Quality Acrylic

Smart design, easy to clean, with an unobstructed view of feeding birds. Amazon

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Strong suction cups keep this charming acrylic window bird feeder attached securely to your windows. The feeding tray and house detach for easier cleaning. A circular cutout helps to increase the visibility of birds from inside your home. 

Want to attract colorful birds to your yard? Try a cardinal feeder

If you’re interested in attracting colorful, non-migratory species, consider the best cardinal bird feeders. These colorful birds are some of the most awe-inspiring and beautiful species in nature. Local cardinal populations will benefit from the extra food in a feeder particularly in the fall and winter months when their food sources are scarce. 

Cardinals are most attracted to food sources that are easy and safe for them to access. A cardinal feeder is typically a cylindrical tube (which is either hung up, or supported from below), or a rectangular style, which includes a wide trough at the base filled with seeds. Platform bird feeders are another option, but these can become overwhelmed with other types of birds as well. Stock your cardinal bird feeder with fresh sunflower seeds to make your red beauties happy and healthy.

Best cardinal bird feeder: Perky-Pet Red Cardinal Bird Feeder

Camouflaged Red Perch

Large circular feeding area with perch as well as shade and shelter. Amazon

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This feeder holds up to 2.5 pounds of black-oil sunflower seeds, a favorite snack for cardinals. The circular perch design lets cardinals sit and rest while they snack, and the red-on-red color protects, by helping them blend in. A special zinc-plated finish makes this metal design more durable and resistant to rust.

Tired of squirrels stealing your bird seeds? Time for a squirrel-proof bird feeder

There’s a reason why there are so many cartoon scenes about this— it can be downright comical to watch how many inventive ways squirrels come up with to steal food from bird feeders. While amusing, depending on your level of seriousness at attracting birds, it’s important to consider how to find the best squirrel-proof bird feeder.

Squirrel-proof bird feeders use a few methods to deter squirrels. Some utilize a simple, metal-made tube feeder with chew-resistant enclosures. Another solution can be pole-mounted feeders, which should be a minimum of six feet off the ground, and far enough away from jumpoff points that squirrels can use to leap onto the feeder. Finally, some squirrel-proof bird feeders have an engineered design which uses weight detection, so if a squirrel stands on the feeder the seed port immediately closes. All of these options should help keep your bird feeder safe for only birds.

Best squirrel proof bird feeder: Droll Yankees YF-M Yankee Flipper

Clever Spinning Design

Large capacity tube feeder with a unique spinning design that flips a squirrel right off the bird feeder. Amazon

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Easy to assemble, this squirrel-proof bird feeder uses weight detection to start spinning the feeder sending any squirrels that make it on, right off again. This squirrel-spinning bird feeder can hold up to five pounds of birdseed and offers four feeding ports.

Looking to attract birds without spending a lot of money? Here’s how to find the best bird feeders on a budget

Luckily, it doesn’t have to cost a lot of money to feed your neighborhood birds. There are many budget priced bird feeders on the market that are well-rated and attractive. When it comes to features, you can expect more cost-conscious feeders to be constructed out of less expensive materials like plastic. Also expect the size and capacity to be smaller for budget feeders.

The majority of the best bird feeders for hummingbirds (outside of handmade fancy specialty items) are very reasonable in price, as are the majority of small window feeders. Hanging feeders range from very inexpensive to high priced. The good news is there are a lot of options and especially if this is a new hobby, it can make sense to start off small and see if you enjoy owning, viewing, and maintaining bird feeders in your garden before you invest in the more expensive models.

Best budget bird feeder: First Nature 3055 32-ounce Hummingbird Feeder

Attract for Less

This bright red, lightweight hummingbird feeder can feed multiple birds at a time. Amazon

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This is a simple, well-reviewed, and affordable hummingbird feeder. This feeder features an extra-wide mouth which makes the reservoir easy to fill and clean, and it can hold up to 32 ounces of nectar.

FAQ: people also ask

How do I choose a bird feeder?

When choosing a birdfeeder, you should consider the type of local birds you are trying to attract to your yard. Certain species prefer specific types of feeders, and will be most likely to visit your yard if you accommodate their preference. For example, sparrows and cardinals are likely to visit ground feeders, while suet feeders are popular with chickadees and woodpeckers. If you are trying to attract hummingbirds, they require a special feeder which dispenses their favorite energy source—nectar. If you want a variety, you can always consider adding a couple of different types of bird feeders.

Are bird feeders good for birds?

Bird feeders are good for birds, as long as you install the feeder in a safe location and offer a fresh, healthy blend of seeds. Bird feeders are especially useful during the times of the year that birds’ natural seed sources are limited like late winter/early spring. It isn’t necessary to feed birds in the summer, although you still can if you enjoy their twittering company year round.  Safe locations for bird feeders are far enough away from predators, but close enough to another natural shelter that they can take cover if needed. 

What food do birds like the most?

Birds love seeds, grains, and nuts such as black-oil sunflower seeds, white proso millet, peanuts, suet cakes (a mixture which includes beef fat), nyjer seed and cracked corn. While it’s common to see bread crumbs thrown for birds this is not a good food source for birds as it doesn’t provide adequate nutrients. The humane society advises to avoid chocolate (it is toxic for birds) as well as table scraps which can attract rats.

Our final thoughts on the best bird feeders

The best bird feeders will attract fascinating birds into your yard, while helping your local bird populations thrive. Whether you wish to bring hummingbirds, cardinals, or a variety of local birds to your home, the best feeders will allow for safe, comfortable feeding and keep bird seed fresh. With options in size, color, style, and price, there’s no reason not to start birding right from your own window.

Keep reading: Bird feeders attract non-native species

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