The 14 Best Bird Feeders For Your Backyard (2018)
I have found that trying to find the best bird feeders for my backyard is about as challenging as trying to order food at a Mexican restaurant.
There are too many options!
With dozens of companies making thousands of unique bird feeders, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and give up.
But I think this guide to some of the best bird feeders will help.
The list below includes 14 of my favorite bird feeders and is organized into a few different sections, depending on the style of feeder. As a bonus, I have also included 6 questions to ask before buying your next bird feeder.
Note: *The bird feeders that I own have an asterisk next to their name.*
Quick Links: The Best Bird Feeders (14 total)
Hopper Feeders (#1 and #2)
Tube Feeders (#3 and #4)
Nyjer (thistle) Feeders (#5 and #6)
Platform or Tray Feeders (#7 and #8)
Nectar Feeders (#9 and #10)
Suet Bird Feeders (#11)
My Favorite Specialty Bird Feeders
The Best Advice I Can Give
Before choosing the best bird feeder (or feeders) for your backyard, let me ask you the following question:
What species of birds are you trying to feed and attract?
Please give this question some serious thought. Do you want to see the widest variety of species possible? Are you hoping to see lots of colorful goldfinches? Do you love watching woodpeckers?
Once you are clear on your birding goals, it will help narrow down the best bird feeder or combination of feeders for you.
Good luck! If you have additional questions or thoughts, please don’t hesitate to comment at the bottom!
Hopper Bird Feeders (#1 and #2)
Hopper feeders are typically designed to attract as many different species of bird as possible. They are a great place to put a general bird seed mix. When I think of the most common or traditional type of bird feeder, a hopper is what comes to mind.
Here are some comfortably features of hoppers:
- Protects the birdseed from the weather, specifically rain and snow.
- Holds a few days supply of food.
- Food dispenses from the bottom as birds feed.
- Includes a large perching area for birds to eat from.
If you were only going to purchase ONE bird feeder, I think a hopper would be the BEST choice.
- This large hopper bird feeder is the centerpiece of my backyard feeding area and where I put my general bird seed mix (sunflower, peanut pieces, safflower, and white millet) that is designed to attract as many species as possible.
- My Absolute II is hanging from a pole, but it can also be mounted. Make sure to use a heavy-duty and squirrel proof pole. This feeder holds up to 12 pounds and is heavy when it’s full of seed!
- It is easy to refill. The top lid unlatches easily to open.
- The seed is protected from rain. I have had no problems with mold or seed clumping due to moisture or dampness.
- This simple design allows many birds to feed comfortably at once and from both sides.
- Its hinged roof makes it easy to fill, and it holds about 5.5 lbs of seed. It’s made of 90% recycled plastic, so it should never rot or fall apart.
- The feeder has a mesh screen bottom that provides excellent drainage
- It’s not flashy, but it works, which is why it’s one of the best hopper bird feeders available!
Tube Feeders (#3 and #4)
After you have had some success with a hopper feeder (above), getting a tube feeder for your backyard would be a great addition.
These classic bird feeders have a tube shape and feature multiple perches and ports for birds to feed. Tube feeders come in many different sizes. For example, I own tube feeders that are small enough to be hung from a window hook and also a large tube feeder that holds up to 4 lbs of bird seed!
The simple design of tube feeders is what makes them so popular. I appreciate that they are easy to open and fill. Most species of birds have no problem flying up and using the feeder perches.
It’s hard to go wrong with this feeder. It’s made by Droll Yankees, whose products are always high quality, made in the United States, and backed by their Lifetime Warranty.
You are going to pay more money for a Droll Yankees bird feeder, but it’s worth the extra cost. I have talked to many people whose bird feeders are over 20 years old and still work great!
In my opinion, it’s the perfect size for most backyards as it holds about a pound of birdseed. Its large ports work great for many different types of seed, including sunflower, peanut pieces, and every bird seed mix.
For the record, I don’t own this specific tube bird feeder from Droll Yankees. Mine is very similar but much larger. It features 12 ports and can hold up to 4 lbs of birdseed!
This tube feeder was the first bird feeder that I ever purchased! I bought it more than five years ago from Home Depot, mostly because it was super cheap (under $10!).
I’m happy to report that it still hangs in my backyard today. Most days it can be seen hanging from a window hook outside our kitchen and serves as an excellent window bird feeder. As you can see in the picture above, goldfinches love visiting daily to eat sunflower kernels.
I know there are much better overall tube feeders available, but this feeder has too much sentimental value not to be included on my list. Plus it works incredibly well. I have never once dealt with moisture inside. It’s easy to open and clean. My only complaint is that since it’s not transparent, it’s not convenient to check the seed level.
Nyjer/Thistle Seed Feeders (#5 and #6)
Nyjer feeders (or commonly referred to as thistle feeders) are specially made to distribute nyjer seed, which is a tiny and black.
These bird feeders are characterized by small openings that make it hard for birds with larger bills to pull any of the seed out. Many of them also don’t have perches for birds to land upon, electing instead to have a wire mesh that birds must cling to eat (like American Goldfinches!).
Here’s why I love nyjer feeders:
They discriminate against the majority of birds. By putting up a nyjer bird feeder, there are only a handful of birds that will ever feed on it. This list includes many different finches, goldfinches, chickadees. And doves even eat the seed that falls to the ground.
For much more information on nyjer seed and finch feeders, read my complete post:
This classic design has my vote for the best bird feeder for nyjer seed. It reminds me of the question “How do you build a better mousetrap?” (You can’t!)
- This bird feeder is made by Droll Yankees who have a fantastic reputation for quality bird products. It’s made in America (as are all their products!) and backed by their Lifetime Warranty, which covers any defective part or any damage caused by squirrels!
- The yellow top and bases are constructed of zinc die-cast metal.
- The transparent tube body is made of a hard and durable plastic, which lets you see when the feeder needs refilled.
- This finch feeder has small slits above each perch that only allows nyjer seed to come out, which is excellent because not much of the seed is wasted.
- This version is 23 inches tall, has eight ports/perches and can hold up to 2 lbs of seed, which is perfect for my backyard. If you have large flocks of finches that you must feed, Droll Yankees also make a 36-inch (with 20 ports!) version. For smaller yards or to serve as a window feeder, you can try their 8-inch finch feeder.
This screen feeder is one of my favorite bird feeders! It’s a lot of fun to watch my goldfinches cling all over the sides to get at the seed. I have counted as many as nine feeding at once!
- It’s made entirely of metal. There is NO plastic and NO wood, hence the name “No/No.” (No/No is a brand of Perky Pet). Since it’s made entirely of metal, it’s pretty resistant to squirrels (and other critters).
- In the pictures above you will notice two internal baffles inside the mesh tube. This helps to distribute seed evenly throughout the feeder. It prevents all the seed accumulating at the bottom and provides a larger surface area for finches to feed.
- It is super easy to clean! The top and base twist right off.
- There are tiny holes drilled into the bottom tray to help with drainage. The seed gets wet when it rains due to the open design, but it dries quickly. Just make sure to replace any uneaten seed after 2-3 weeks (depending on weather).
Platform or Tray Bird Feeders (#7 and #8)
The concept of a platform feeder is simple, which is probably why they work so well. Just put out a tray and fill with food.
A platform feeder caters to the natural instincts of many birds.
For example, certain birds enjoy having lots of space to hop around to eat their food, which a platform feeder provides. They also give lots of visibility for birds to watch for predators, so they feel safer while eating.
A quality platform feeder was one of the last bird feeders that I added to my backyard, and this was a mistake.
My platform and tray feeders are now two of the best bird feeders in my backyard! It’s easy to experiment with different food combinations to see what my local birds are eating. I love putting out a mix of just about every food in my shed (sunflower, corn, suet nuggets, peanuts, safflower, mealworms) to see what are their favorites.
- This is an excellent, multi-purpose platform and one of my favorite bird feeders. Just spread a mixture of foods on top and watch the birds come. My favorite foods to use for this feeder are peanuts (both in the shell and out), suet nuggets, and mealworms.
- The metal screen bottom provides excellent drainage. Your food will never be sitting in standing water. The screen bottom is also removable and slides right out. This makes it easy to clean!
- It’s big and can support multiple birds at one time. (16.4 x 13.2 x 2.4 inches)
- This feeder is versatile and has many purposes in my backyard. For example, when I want to see more cardinals (generally in winter), I put safflower or striped sunflower on the tray. In the summer, I use this feeder mostly for mealworms.
- The tray has small holes that provide excellent drainage to help keep the food dry.
- This bird feeder is constructed of sturdy and durable polycarbonate plastic. It’s tough, sturdy and resistant to cracking or breaking. As with all Droll Yankee products, you can expect a high-quality quality product that is made in the USA
- It’s effortless to clean. Dirt, shells, and waste quickly wash off the smooth plastic.
Nectar Feeders (#9 and #10)
Even though there are quite a few types of birds that sample nectar occasionally, there are only two groups of birds that reliably visit backyard nectar feeders.
Those are hummingbirds and orioles.
And my guess is that 95% of most birders don’t put out a nectar feeder for orioles, only for hummingbirds. So even though there are lots of great nectar feeders designed for orioles, I am going to focus my two recommendations on hummingbird nectar feeders.
Hummingbird feeders are easily the most popular style of bird feeders.
In my opinion, they are the best bird feeders for people that don’t love birds. It’s hard to find someone that doesn’t enjoy having these little avian beauties flying around their yard!
For more information and tips about hummingbird feeders, check out my following post:
- The 8 Best Hummingbird Feeders That Will Crush 2018
- Plus 7 Tips When Choosing a Nectar Feeder
- The Hummzinger has a simple dish design, which is why it works well and is extremely popular.
- It is effortless to clean, and there is no leaking!
- This 12 oz model has four feeding ports. If you want a larger option, the HummZinger also comes in a 16 oz model with six feeding ports.
- This is far and away my favorite hummingbird feeder that I have ever owned. It’s inexpensive with no hassle or frustration AND attracts hummingbirds! It just works!
When considering a bottle style hummingbird feeder (like this one from First Nature), make sure that it doesn’t leak. A nectar bird feeder that leaks is almost worthless because of the constant mess it makes!
I’m happy to report that I have not had any leaking issues with this feeder, which is one big reason (among others) I am recommending it.
I also like that the bottle that holds the nectar is relatively wide, which makes cleaning and filling pretty easy. And the 10 feeding ports provide lots of room for multiple hummingbirds to feed comfortably.
Suet Bird Feeders (#11)
Having a feeder dedicated to offering suet is an excellent addition to any backyard. Suet provides birds with a huge energy boost and is especially important in the cold winter months.
To see a more comprehensive list of suet feeders and to learn more about different types of suet, please read my following post:
The above suet feeder made by Birds Choice is my favorite choice for woodpeckers in my backyard.
- I like that it holds two suet cakes instead of one. This is because I don’t have to refill the feeder as often and I can also test different suet cakes against each other to find the birds favorites.
- It features an EXTRA LONG tail prop*. In my opinion, woodpeckers prefer using bird feeders that include a tail prop. It is relatively long, which means that even large woodpeckers (e.g., Pileated Woodpeckers) may use it.
- *Tail props are a place where woodpeckers can support their tail while feeding. Read more here.
Specialty Bird Feeders (#12-14)
Here are a few of the other best bird feeders in my backyard that didn’t fit in any of the previous sections.
Putting up a few window bird feeders outside our kitchen was one of the best decisions I have made. My kids love watching the birds up close, and anyone that visits is immediately attracted to the back windows to see the action. If I am quiet, I can easily get next to the window to observe each birds beautiful plumage or feeding habits.
Check out the above window bird feeder from Nature’s Hangout. It consistently has birds feeding on it and works as advertised. There is a removable tray that sits inside the plastic housing that suctions to your window, which makes it easy to refill the seed and clean.
It’s big enough to fit 4 or 5 birds at once easily. Most of the birds use the perch, but a few species (House Finches for example) tend to sit right on top of all the seed to eat and relax.
Whenever I want to experiment and try a different type of food, this is the bird feeder that I use. Since it’s small, it’s easy to isolate a specific food in the feeder and then watch what birds feed on it.
The simple design is just a small (10 oz) dish with small slits on the sides (to allow water to drain out).
This peanut feeder from Songbird Essentials is one of the few bird feeders on this list that I don’t own…yet.
But it’s next on my list of feeders to buy and here’s why:
One of my favorite birds to watch in my backyard are Blue Jay’s as they swoop down to grab a whole peanut and fly off to open in a nearby tree. It’s fun, entertaining, and interesting to watch them bang and peck the shell until they get to the peanut meat inside.
I enjoy it so much that I want a separate bird feeder just for whole peanuts!
From my research, a peanut wreath feeder is excellent at attracting and feeding Blue Jay’s. And this specific feeder from Songbird Essentials get’s excellent reviews. Once I purchase and use for a bit, I will give an update!
Here’s 3 Other Articles You May Enjoy:
6 Questions to Ask Before Buying a New Bird Feeder
It’s worth considering the following questions before purchasing a new bird feeder. These are the features that I have found valuable in the feeders I own. This list is not all-inclusive, so please give me some more ideas in the comments section below.
1. Is it easy to clean?
Trust me; you will appreciate an easy to clean bird feeder!
2. Can water drain?
It rains. It snows. Nothing ruins bird seed faster than sitting in water.
3. Can I see the food from a distance?
I like to check food levels from the comfort of my own home, especially during the cold winter months. I don’t want my feeders sitting empty for long!
4. How easy is it to fill?
This doesn’t seem relevant until it’s incredibly cold and you just want to get back inside. My preference is that I can easily unhinge a lid WITH my gloves on.
5. Is the feeder well constructed?
No one likes cheap stuff. Spend a few more dollars and get a sturdy bird feeder.
6. Which company manufactures the feeder?
Many companies have been in business a very long time and have excellent reputations for making high-quality bird feeders. These companies are my preference! Also, check out any warranties that are offered.
Thanks for making it this far! But now I have a favor to ask; if you found this article valuable, please consider doing one of the following three things:
1. If you purchase any of the best bird feeders listed above, please use the links found in the article. At no cost to you, I would receive a small percentage of the sale. This lets me know that you found this content helpful and covers the costs to run Bird Watching HQ. I would be forever grateful. 🙂
2. Share this article! I don’t care what social network you prefer, pass it around! (Check out the share buttons on the left-hand side of the screen.)
3. Use the comments below to keep the conversation going. I would love to hear your thoughts and responses:
- What is the best bird feeder in your backyard? Or put another way, if you could only keep one feeder, which one would it be and why?
- How many bird feeders do you have outside right now? Please share the types and styles you prefer and use!
Thanks again for reading. Happy birding!