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How to Choose a Bird Feeder

In the cold weather, birds need extra help finding the seeds they crave. Here’s everything you need to know to put up a snack bar for your feathered friends.


  • Step 1: Choose a location Choose the best location for your bird feeder. If you’re an eager bird watcher, put it near a window or deck—there’s always a lot going on at a feeder.
  • TIP: Placing a bird feeder near bushes gives birds a place to hide if they are startled.
  • Step 2: Choose a feeder that’s easy to clean and fill Whatever bird feeder you decide to buy, choose one that’s easy to clean and easy to fill.
  • Step 3: Consider “hopper” feeders To attract a variety of birds, including woodpeckers and blue jays, choose a 'hopper' feeder, which has a slanted roof. Hang the hopper feeder from a tree or mount it on a pole.
  • Step 4: Consider “tube” feeders To attract smaller birds, including chickadees and finches, choose a 'tube' feeder. Hang the tube feeder from a tree branch, a hook mounted into a roof overhang, or a pole in the ground.
  • Step 5: Consider “platform” feeders To attract ground-feeding birds, including doves, choose a ground or 'platform' feeder. Platform feeders can hold a variety of treats, including bits of fruit.
  • TIP: To attract an even wider range of birds, hang a suet cake—made of raw mutton or beef fat—from a special suet-cake feeder near your bird feeder.
  • Step 6: Fill feeder Fill your bird feeder with the seed you’ve chosen. Sunflower seeds appeal to the widest variety of birds. If you want to avoid messy seed shells in your yard, buy shelled sunflower hearts.
  • TIP: Keeping squirrels from raiding bird feeders is an uphill battle. You can try using a special squirrel-proof feeder, but it’s likely easier to distract them by sprinkling extra bird food on the ground.
  • Step 7: Bird watch Now that you’ve set up a birdie buffet, get out your binoculars—watching birds is great entertainment!
  • FACT: A woodpecker can peck twenty times per second.

You Will Need

  • Location
  • Knowledge of birds
  • Birdseed
  • Fruit (optional) (optional) (optional)
  • Cake of suet (optional) (optional) (optional)
  • Suet-cake feeder (optional) (optional) (optional)

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