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10 Bird Feeder Types (That Attract Birds To Your Yard)

Bird Feeder Types

There is a wide selection of feeder types to consider in establishing your first feeding station. Different types of feeders require varying levels of care and attract different species. Consider several different types of feeders to maximize the variety of birds you attract.

When purchasing a new feeder, start by selecting one that is easy to fill and easy to clean. Weather-resistant cedar or redwood is a good choice for wooden feeders, but other types of wood are acceptable. Avoid chemically treated lumber. The types of birds that show up at your feeder will also vary by your location and the time of year.

Important: If your feeder will be located near trees or you have seen squirrels in your area be prepared to deal with them at some point. They can be extremely determined and can consume a large amount of your feed. We cover dealing with squirrels in another section but it is a good idea to keep them in mind when planning your feeding station or backyard environment.

The list below provides a quick reference to the basic feeder types.


Ground Feeding

Ground feeding is the easiest and quickest way to get started. Spreading birdseed, cracked corn, bread crumbs, raisins and peanuts can attract a variety of species.

Most common ground-feeding birds include: Sparrows, Mourning Doves, quail, towhees, flickers, thrashers, juncos, cardinals

The area should be dry and the ground feeding area rotated every several days unless it can be washed down. It is best not to add additional feed below hanging feeders.

Do not put out more than one day supply of food. (Time and experience will help you establish the correct amount.)



#1: Platform Feeders

Platform Style bird feeders

Platform feeders, also known as tray feeders are easy to maintain and attract a wide variety of species. Long, narrow platforms encourage birds to feed from the edge, limiting contamination of the station.

Attracted Species: Sparrows, finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, blackbirds, wrens, cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, tanagers, orioles, cardinals

A wide variety of seed, nuts, fruit, and egg shells can be used on a platform feeder. Keep the platform clean and put out only a 1 or 2 day supply of food at a time. Some platform feeders have a second, often wire mesh platform below for catching hulls and uneaten seed.

Related: What kinds of seeds do birds eat?

These feeders can attract smaller birds, as well as larger birds.

What you should know

  • Platform feeders probably attract a greater variety of species than any other design.
  • The open design also makes it easy for flocks of grackles and starlings to consume large amounts of seed in a short time.
  • Some platform feeders can be easily raided by squirrels.


#2: Hopper Feeders

Hopper feeders

Hopper feeders are a popular design. They are usually easy to fill and easy to clean. They also do well in attracting a variety of species. The one shown above is three typical designs but far from the only three.

Attracted Species: Sparrows, finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, blackbirds, cardinals, jays, grosbeaks, buntings.

Watch for mold growing in feed that has been in a hopper feeder for an extended period. Clean hopper feeders on a regular basis.

Hopper feeders can be difficult to protect from squirrel attacks from above. If your feeder will be within 8 feet of a tree or overhanging branch you may wish to consider a squirrel-proof design.

Some of their features include:

  • Different sizes available
  • Large hopper feeders do not need to be refilled as often as many tube feeders
  • Manufactured in a variety of styles and designs
  • Easy to fill
  • Many designs are easy to clean
  • They attract a large variety of birds
Some hopper feeders have a spring-loaded arm that can cover the feeder ports. Birds are too light to move the arm. When squirrels land on the arm, it lowers and covers the feeder ports.

What you should know…

  • Hopper feeders are available in different types of wood. Treated lumbar should not be used in feeders. Cedar or fur are good choices.
  • Several manufacturers are now making hopper feeders out of recycled materials. These feeders look nice and last forever.
  • Check the design carefully. Some hopper feeders are hard to clean.

See Best Feeders For Cardinals


#3: Tube Feeders

Tube Bird Feeders

Tube feeders are popular and widely used. They are available in different materials and in different colors.

Attracted species: Finches, titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, redpolls, and pine siskins

Tube feeders are produced in two different styles.

tube feeder

Some tube feeders are available inside a metal cage. The cage stops squirrels and larger, less desirable bird species from reaching the seed.

  • Finch feeders: Feeding ports are designed for dispensing the small Nyjer® seeds popular with goldfinches and Pine Siskins.
  • Seed feeders: Feeding ports are designed for dispensing sunflower or mixed seed.

Look for these features in selecting a tube feeder:

  • Removable bottom for easy cleaning
  • Locking mechanism for the top to prevent access by squirrels
  • Metal tops and bottoms
  • UV stabilized polycarbonate tube
  • Threaded base for pole mounting or the addition of a seed tray
  • Seed baffle at bottom of tube to keep all seed within reach

What you should know…

  • Tube feeders made of plastic are less expensive than those with metal parts but do not last as long.
  • Squirrels will chew through plastic feeders to reach the seed.
  • Some tube feeders use plastic tubes that are not UV stabilized. They will tend to crack after exposure to sunlight.
  • Seed left for long periods at the bottom of a feeder can become moldy. Be sure to circulate the seeds and keep the feeder clean.

There are different tube feeder designs and materials. If there are squirrels in your area, you will want to purchase a metal feeder with a locking top, or the squirrels will invite themselves to the party.

Best Squirrel Proof Bird Feeders


#4: Dome Feeders

Dome style bird feeder


Dome feeders are large globes that are somewhat selective in the birds they attract. They are often not as attractive to house sparrows and house finches, which can be a plus if these species tend to overrun your other feeders.

Attracted species: Chickadees, titmice, American Goldfinches and nuthatches

As the name suggests, dome feeders have a feeding station covered by a dome (usually plastic). The dome prevents snow and rain from falling on the feeding station. The dome can also be used to help smaller birds feel more protected.


Who Come To Dome Feeders?

There are many bird species that are commonly seen at dome feeders. One of the most popular is the Black-Capped Chickadee, a small bird with a distinctive black cap and bib. Chickadees are a year-round resident in much of North America and can often be seen flitting back and forth from the feeder to nearby trees. They are known for their friendly, curious behavior and are a favorite among bird enthusiasts.

Another common bird at dome feeders is the house finch. These small birds have brown and red plumage and are known for their melodious song. They are also a year-round resident in much of North America and can often be seen perched on the feeder or nearby branches, singing their hearts out.

Other popular birds at dome feeders include

  • American Goldfinches are easily recognizable by their bright yellow plumage and are often seen hanging upside down from the feeder.
  • Downy woodpeckers are black and white with a distinctive red patch on the back of their head and are often seen pecking at the feeder for insects.
  • Tufted titmice are gray with a distinctive tufted crest on their head and are known for their acrobatic behavior around feeders.
  • White-breasted nuthatches are gray with a white belly and are often seen climbing up and down tree trunks and branches in search of food.

What you need to know…

  • Dome feeders are usually hung, not pole mounted.
  • If you have bluebirds in your area, a small dome feeder is one our favorite feeder choices.
  • Larger dome feeders, such as the Droll Yankees unit above, provides some protection from squirrels.

See Best Feeders for Bluebirds


#5: Suet Feeders

Suet Feeders

Suet can be fed in several ways but a simple wire cage is easy to use and inexpensive to purchase. Suet cakes are readily available and fit into what has become almost a standard sized holder.

Attracted species: Woodpeckers, chickadees, creepers, jays, nuthatches, wrens, bluebirds, mockingbirds

Some suet feeders have a “tail prop” extension to accommodate woodpeckers. Other feeders are designed to force the bird to feed upside down, a snap for chickadees and nuthatches but an effective approach to elimination house sparrows and starlings.

Best Suet Bird Feeders


#6: Window-Mounted Bird Feeders

window mounted bird feeder

Window-mounted bird feeders bring the birds up close for easy viewing. Most designs use suction cups to attach the feeder to the window, so you will have to remove any screens if you’re are going to use one. Here are the 5 best choices you can make!

Attracted species: Black-capped chickadees, Northern Cardinals, House Finches and American Goldfinches.

What you should know…

  • Window mounted feeders are smaller than most feeders and require re-filling more often.
  • It may take birds several days or even longer to find and become comfortable with window mounted feeders. If the birds are accustomed to using nearby feeders, they will find the window feeder more quickly.
  • Clean the window before mounting the feeder.

Best Window-Mounted Bird Feeders

#7: Peanut Feeders

Peanut bird feeders

Peanut feeders are usually nothing more than a simple tube feeder.  Instead of a solid tube, however, a stiff wire mesh forms the tube, with the holes in the mesh just small enough to keep the peanuts from falling through. Shelled peanuts are offered in the peanut feeders.

Attracted species: Woodpeckers, Bushtits, Nuthatches, Chickadees, Jays

Jays will also take peanuts in the shell. Its quite a site to see a Steller’s Jay swallow a peanut whole.

There are several bird species that like to indulge on peanuts – for example, woodpeckers and nuthatches love peanuts, and the list goes on. Just be sure to offer whole peanuts and make sure they’re unsalted.


#8: Nectar Feeders (Hummingbird Feeders)

hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird feeder

Hummingbird feeders are available in many different styles. Select one that is easy to clean and fill. A simple mixture of sugar and water is all that is required; red food coloring is not recommended. You only need one part sugar and four parts water.

Attracted species: Hummingbirds, orioles, tanagers, sometimes woodpeckers

Nectar feeders are popular in areas with orioles and tanagers and these colorful species can brighten any backyard. Nectar mixes for orioles are commercially available or you can use a standard hummingbird mixture of sugar and water. Regular hummingbird feeders are also sometimes visited by orioles and tanagers if they have a place to land.



#9: Fruit Feeders

Oranges, grapefruit, apples and raisins are all popular with the fruit eaters. Split oranges and grapefruit in half and hang on the side of a tree or mount with one of the commercial feeders. Apples can be chopped up or placed in specially designed holders.

Raisins can be chopped up and softened in water before feeding. Some find that a serving of grape jelly is welcomed by certain species.

Attracted species: Orioles, tanagers, woodpeckers, thrashers, bluebirds, mockingbirds


#10: Bird Feeders With Cameras

Best bird feeder cameras

If you connect innovative technologies with the urge to birdwatch, you end up with a bird feeder that has a camera mounted to it. Modern-day technology is truly amazing – sometimes, the apps connected to the feeders can even identify your little guests.

Bird feeder cameras have revolutionized the way we connect with our feathery friends right in our backyard.

With live streaming capabilities and mobile apps, these devices make bird-watching accessible anytime, anaywhere. Many of them employ advanced AI algorithms that can identify numerous bird species.

They are designed for anyone with an interest in birds and a desire to observe and learn about them up close.

See the best bird feeders with cameras


To Sum It Up

#1: Platform Feeders
#2: Hopper Feeders
#3: Tube Feeders
#4: Dome Feeders
#5: Suet Feeders
#6: Window-Mounted Bird Feeders
#7: Peanut Feeders
#8: Nectar Feeders (Hummingbird Feeders)
#9: Fruit Feeders
#10: Bird Feeders With Cameras

About the Author

Sam Crowe

Sam is the founder of He has been birding for over 30 years and has a world list of over 2000 species. He has served as treasurer of the Texas Ornithological Society, Sanctuary Chair of Dallas Audubon, Editor of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology's "All About Birds" web site and as a contributing editor for Birding Business magazine. Many of his photographs and videos can be found on the site.

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