When most people start feeding birds in their backyard, they envision lots of beautiful species quietly sharing the food you have provided. They think somehow the birds will realize that there is plenty to go around and everyone will take turns getting their fill.

 

Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long to realize that not only do the small songbirds appreciate your free food, but so do the large, aggressive bully birds that don’t like to leave anything left over for all the birds we actually want to see!

 

For example, has your backyard ever looked like mine below?

(Make sure to watch for at least 10 seconds!)

 

I can’t tell you how many times I have gotten angry at blackbirds, such as starlings and grackles, for eating all the food and keeping away the little birds, such as goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, native sparrows, and woodpeckers. I know many other people have severe problems with pigeons.

 

Instead of getting mad at the bully birds for doing what they have to do to survive, I have tried to develop strategies at my bird feeding station to prevent them. One way to accomplish this is by providing specialized feeders that only allow small birds to eat. 

 

Today, I recommend 7 different bird feeders for small birds!

 

In general, you can cater to small birds by choosing a feeder that does one of the following:

  • Uses cages, adjustable domes, or weighted perches to prevent larger birds from accessing the food.  (#1, #3, & #5)
  • Uses a specific food that bully birds don’t enjoy eating. (#2 & #6)
  • Makes the larger birds feed in uncomfortable and unnatural positions. (#4 & #7)

 

I own and have tested all of the below bird feeders and can tell you personally what I like best. Each bird feeder is an entirely different style and provides its own unique benefits for small birds. You will need to figure out which type of bird feeder best solves your specific problem.

 


1. Woodlink Caged Tube Feeder

starling proof bird feeder

View Price - Amazon

Buying a caged bird feeder is the BEST way to make sure the small birds have a private place to eat. These feeders work by wrapping a metal cage around a classic tube feeder, which prevents larger birds from fitting inside. Seriously, looking at the picture above it’s easy to confuse this feeder with a prison cell!

 

As hard as they may try, grackles and starlings can only look at the delicious food inside!

 

Woodlink makes this specific feeder for smalls birds:

  • Features 6 feeding ports.
  • It holds about 1.25 lbs of seed.
  • The feeder is about 17 inches long from top to bottom.
  • It is made of durable powder-coated metal.

 

So what’s not to like?

 

The metal cage works incredibly well at keeping birds out except the very smallest. Don’t think that medium-size birds such as cardinals are going to like using this feeder. I have not had much luck with the birds adapting to the cage quickly either. The only species that I have observed so far include goldfinches, chickadees, and House Sparrow.

 


2. No/No Yellow Finch Feeder

bird feeder for small birds

No/No Yellow Finch Feeder   View Price - Amazon

 

The reason that this feeder is great for small birds is not in the design but in the type of food that it feeds!

 

This metal finch feeder only uses nyjer seed!

different types of bird seed guide

Nyjer seed, which is commonly called thistle, is a tiny black seed that is a popular type of bird food. The great thing about nyjer is not many bird species eat the stuff, and the ones that do are mostly small!

 

The list of species in my backyard that have been seen eating nyjer include goldfinches, chickadees, finches, and House Sparrows. The only large bird that eats nyjer is the Mourning Dove, which is a very peaceful bird that is welcome at my feeders.

 

I use this specific metal finch feeder for small birds at my feeding station, but almost any nyjer feeder will work. One common feature is small ports to access the seed, so only the birds with the tiniest bills can obtain the food.

 

Here is what I like about this specific nyjer feeder:

  • Made of durable metal. I bang the mesh tube against things quite a bit to help empty old food.
  • Both the top and bottom easily screw off which makes the feeder easy to clean.
  • The internal baffles create different feeding levels and make sure all the seed doesn’t fall to the bottom, which provides more surface area for birds like goldfinches.

 

Watch my bird feeding station LIVE right now!

Most of the time I have the No/No finch feeder displayed filled with nyjer!

*View all of my LIVE cams 24/7 HERE*

 


3. Droll Yankees Adjustable Dome Feeder   View Price - Amazon

 

This platform feeder has been nicknamed the “UFO” by the some of the nature enthusiasts that enjoy watching my live cameras! I think it’s easy to see why?tray feeder for small birds

 

The reason that I like this feeder for small birds is the ability of the 15″ top dome to adjust. It easily slides up and down the metal rod. By sliding the dome down, you can create a tiny space that only small birds can utilize.

 

I think this feeder is best for slowing down larger birds, not completely stopping them. Typically, I try to leave enough space that Northern Cardinals can still access the food inside the tray. And if cardinals can fit, then starlings can usually squeeze through too. But at least only a few starlings can fit at one time, AND the opening is still small enough to prevent grackles, pigeons, and doves!

 

I also like that the top dome helps protect the food a bit from rain and snow. Overall, trays and platforms are some of the most popular bird feeders, including mine!

 


4. Aspects Window Bird Feeder    View Price - Amazon

 

There is almost nothing as fun as putting up a window feeder. Being able to watch a steady stream of beautiful birds eating from your kitchen window while drinking your morning coffee is a delightful and enjoyable way to start the day!

 

If I were going to pick a window bird feeder that is best for small birds, I would select the Aspects Window Cafe.

 

The roof of the feeder attaches via suction cups to the window. Then the seed reservoir slides easily in and out from the attached roof. There is only a small tray, so larger birds are not very comfortable if they try to land and eat.

 

Usually, I fill my window feeders with delicious sunflower kernels to help draw the birds close to my home. I have had great luck attracting American Goldfinches, Black-capped Chickadees, and House Finches to this specific window feeder.

 

I have also had a positive experience working with Aspects. When the plastic hopper decided to snap and break, I contacted Aspects, and within a few days, they had a replacement part mailed to me!

 

If you have never tried a window feeder before, my biggest advice is to be PATIENT. It may take the birds a while to find the new food source and feel comfortable coming that close to your home.

 


5. Woodlink Absolute II Hopper

hopper feeder for small birds

View Price - Amazon

This hopper feeder made by Woodlink is made of durable steel. It has a huge reservoir for bird food, holding up to about 12 pounds (depending on food type)!

 

Even though this feeder is large, it can be adjusted only to allow small birds to eat. If too much weight is put on the spring-activated perches, then access to the food is immediately cut off! Check out this video below:

The feeder has three sensitivity settings depending on the size and amount of birds you want to allow to feed at once. So if a flock of starlings moves into your area, you can make the perches ultra sensitive to weight until they get the hint and move on!

 

I also like that the food stays completely dry thanks to the roof. I have NEVER had a problem with moisture after heavy rain or snow. The design of the feeder also prevents birds from shoveling food out of hopper as they look for their favorite seed.

 

You are not alone if you thought that this bird feeder is also great at preventing squirrels! The weight of these mammals closes access to the food no matter which setting you choose!

 


6. Aspects Hummingbird Feeder

small hummingbird feeder

Hanging a nectar feeder is 100% guaranteed to attract only the smallest types of birds to your yard. That’s because tiny hummingbirds are one of only a few species that eat nectar!

 

I like this hummingbird feeder made by Aspects because it’s a dish style feeder. That means the nectar sits in the plastic dish with a lid that fastens tightly on top. Dish feeders are my favorite types for hummingbirds because of their simplicity and easiness to clean!

 

Because of a hummingbird’s high energy requirements, during the summer months, your nectar feeders may be one of the busiest in your backyard. Just make sure to keep them full of fresh food as nectar can spoil quickly in the heat.

 

If you have never tried to attract hummingbirds to your backyard, you are missing one of the most rewarding and fun activities you can do during the summer. It doesn’t matter how many times I see hummingbirds zipping and zagging around; it makes me stop to watch them and see what they are up too.

 


7. Birds Choice Upside Down Suet Feeder

suet feeder that prevents large birds

View Price - Amazon

 

Standard suet feeders can be a magnet for larger bully birds, especially starlings. They go crazy over most types of suet!

 

And when these annoying flocks of starlings appear, the woodpeckers tend to stay away. This is unacceptable to me because woodpeckers are some of my favorite birds to attract and observe at my feeding station.

 

Luckily, there is a solution:

 

To avoid bully birds but still feed woodpeckers, try using an upside-down suet feeder!

 

The reason it works is that the only way to eat the suet is to hang upside down. Woodpeckers can accomplish this feat with little problems, but starlings and grackles not so much!

 

The biggest problem I have had with this feeder is helping the woodpeckers to discover it! But I came up with a strategy which you can see demonstrated in the video below:

My woodpeckers are used to eating from the cage suet feeder holding the white suet. So I hung this feeder from the bottom of the upside down suet feeder hoping they would look up and see the delicious fat above them (the suet in the upside-down feeder includes peanuts and sunflower). The good news is that this strategy worked within hours, where before I hadn’t seen any birds on the upside down suet feeder in several days.

 

On a side note, starlings don’t enjoy eating plain suet that does not include added peanuts or corn. This is why I chose the plain white suet for the hanging cage feeder, but the upside down feeder has suet with added peanuts and sunflower which is what the larger, aggressive birds desire most.

 


Final Thoughts – The Best Bird Feeders For Small Birds

 

The above list should provide you with some fantastic bird feeders for small birds. At the end of the day, it comes down to what problems you are trying to solve in your backyard.

 

In general, you can cater to small birds by choosing a feeder that does one of the following:

  • Uses cages, adjustable domes, or weighted perches to prevent larger birds from accessing the food.  (#1, #3, & #5)
  • Uses a specific food that bully birds don’t enjoy eating. (#2 & #6)
  • Makes the larger birds feed in uncomfortable and unnatural positions. (#4 & #7)

 

Now if we could just come up with a bird feeder that prevented House Sparrows! They are small enough that they can use almost any feeder mentioned in this article!

7 responses to “Best Bird Feeders For Small Birds (7 PROVEN Choices!)”

  1. Jana Hepburn says:

    Hello! I am doing some reading to get ready to purchase my first proper feeder. We have cardinals and a few other lovely birds in the area that I am hoping to attract. I have done a lot of reading and will be going with the Droll Yankee Dorthy Feeder, but am trying to determine the best place to hang it. Is a 5′ shepherd hook tall enough, or is that too short? Can I set it into a shrub slightly, or do the birds prefer to have the feeders set farther out / more open space? Thank you so much for your help! This blog is so informative!

    • Scott says:

      Hey Jana! Congratulations on your first feeder. Before I got my current set up I was using a shepherds hook and it was about 5′, so I think that should be fine and the Dorothy Feeder is not too heavy. As for the correct location, my advice is to try both out and see what the birds prefer!

  2. Diane Dilworth says:

    What are your thoughts on sock feeders for
    Finch?

  3. Diane Dilworth says:

    What are your thoughts on dock grrfrrd

  4. Scott says:

    Hey Todd. That is good advice. If it’s within that zone of 3-10 feet they could smash into your window if they are scared suddenly. My feeders are at the back of my yard and I would estimate about 100 feet. Hope that helps!

  5. Todd says:

    Hi Scott, how far from the house are your bird feeders from your house on your live feed on YouTube? I just got started with a few feeders about a month ago. I am mainly getting Tit Mice so far and an occasional Cardinal. The proprietor at Wild Birds Unlimited said that the feeder could either be 10 feet from the house or within 3 feet. What are your thoughts?

Leave a Reply