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Over the past few years, as my bird-watching passion has grown, I’ve purchased quite a few feeders. You don’t need a zillion feeders of course. But having a variety can increase the variety and the number of bids visiting. And that makes it fun! Some feeders have been clear winners from the start. Others have needed some tweaking to make them work for the birds in my yard. If you have considered purchasing a hanging platform bird feeder, read on!
Why a Hanging Platform Feeder?
Several years ago, I purchased two Backyard Boys ground platform feeders. These are nice, sturdy feeders that were popular in my yard and many birds liked them. But eventually I decided I also wanted a platform feeder I could hang and fill with sunflower seed. I wanted a hanging feeder out of the reach of squirrels and neighborhood cats.
So I purchased this Birds Choice Hanging Platform Feeder. Like other feeders, I had to move it around find the right location, but it has worked out beautifully.
Birds Choice Hanging Platform Feeder
This feeder is 16” x 13” and has a recycled plastic frame, colored to look like wood. The bottom platform is a perforated sheet of metal that is a permanent part of the feeder, fitted into a groove inside the frame. This keeps the seed in but allows water to drain out. After using the first one for awhile, I also purchased a second smaller version of this feeder. It is 10″ x10″ and works the same way.
These feeders are sturdy and well-built and even have a guarantee “to never crack, split or fade.” I’ve used these feeders for three years and they arre still going strong. I expect that they will last for many more years.
Two black polyester coated steel arms look like upside-down V’s. Their ends fit into holes in the frame sides and meet at the top at an S-shaped metal hook. The hook at the top is small, so you’ll probably need a hook to hang it. It doesn’t require a lot of assembly. Simply slip the arms in the holes, hang and fill with seed. It weighs about four pounds empty.
Where to Put This Feeder
I first hung this feeder from a large tree branch. Oh how naive that was. The squirrels promptly thanked me for providing them with such a nice roomy place to sit off the ground while they gorged on birdseed. Then I purchased a clear plastic dome to go over the feeder, choosing the biggest one available in the local bird store.
Quickly, I discovered that this dome is really a weather guard and doesn’t do much for keeping out squirrels. I don’t regret the purchase however. While the seed will get wet if there is a lot of blowing rain or snow, the dome does keep it mostly dry in lighter precipitation. Often only the seed at the corners gets wet. So for a while I only filled this with safflower, something the local squirrels only eat if they are really hungry and there is no other choice.
I was playing around with this before I started using the flat metal Erva squirrel baffles that have worked so beautifully for me with other feeders, so I haven’t tried it with this feeder. I suspect that the platform on this feeder is probably too wide to be protected by the diameter of those baffles.
Hanging This Feeder on a Pole
What I did eventually purchase instead was an Erva pole and barrel squirrel baffle where I could hang the feeder. This keeps squirrels out as described in another post on Squirrels, Poles and Baffles. The beauty of poles is that you can place them thirty feet or more from a window for bird safety. As long as the pole has the right baffle and is positioned beyond squirrel jumping distance (eight to ten feet), you should be able to keep squirrels off it. It won’t keep a Cooper’s or Sharp-Shined Hawk from grabbing a bird snack in a fly-by however.
Now that I have this feeder in the right location, it is great. I’ve got it filled with sunflower hearts, a popular seed with many birds (but without shell mess you get with black oil sunflower seed.)
Because it is an open style feeder and sunflower hearts turn to mush if they get wet, I try to only put out enough seed to last a little over a day. I top it off every morning as needed. I also sometimes throw in a few peanuts in the shell for the Blue Jays or some extra Nyjer seed for the American Goldfinches when the Nyjer feeders are very busy.
Birds That Use This Feeder
The large size accommodates about a dozen American Goldfinches or eight House Finches or two Mourning Doves. It typically has a variety of bird species eating together at one time.
As well as the Goldfinches and House Finches, it is also popular with Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, Pine Siskins and Carolina Chickadees. I’ve seen a Pine Warbler on it and the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers usually stop by at least once a day to hang off the side of it to eat a few bites.
This type of feeder is open to all of course, so depending on what you fill it with, you might also get Common Grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Brown-Headed Cowbirds. If a bird eats the type of seed you put in this feeder, it’ll probably be happy to eat it here. Even Dark-Eyed Juncos that usually eat on the ground, will hop into this feeder every now and then.
Note: The seed you put in a feeder makes a big difference. Check out my post on Choosing Seed For Backyard Birds.
Cleaning The Feeder
The feeder is very easy maintenance. Not being particularly heavy, it is easy to take down if you need to clean out seed shells or seed that has gotten wet. Like all feeders, it should be cleaned every few weeks, but there really isn’t anything to take apart so it is super easy. In the summer, I clear out any old seed and hose it down. In the winter, I take it inside to clean in the sink.
Use a sponge or a soft brush to clean the perforated bottom. I learned the hard way not to use the really stiff brushes made to clean out cement birdbaths for anything with a powder-coat of paint like this feeder’s bottom metal screen. It can scrub away the paint.
If the seed has gotten moldy or you’ve seen sick birds in the feeder, wipe it down with a diluted nine-parts-water/one-part-bleach solution to kill off germs. Then rinse with water, dry, re-hang and fill.
And that is about it. If you need an easy to use feeder birds are bound to love, this is a good choice. Its open design has the advantage of less obstructions for viewing and taking pictures of birds. Just be aware that you’ll probably also want to purchase a weather guard. And if you’ve got squirrels, hang it on a baffled pole.
More on Putting Up A New Feeder
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