Last Updated on
If you are just starting to feed backyard birds, you might wonder how many feeders you need. There isn’t one right answer. And really, it is largely up to you. You could choose a single feeder or a dozen. My advice is to start with one feeder and see how it goes. Add more if you find you enjoy feeding birds and if you want to feed more birds or more types of birds. Here are some feeder suggestions to get you started.
Most people probably start with a general type of feeder that appeals to a variety of birds. But if you know that a specific type of bird is around that uses a specialty feeder, you could instead start with that.
Keep in mind that what you put into a feeder matters as much as the feeder itself. See my post on How to Choose Birdseed For Backyard Birds to decide what seed you’d like to use in your chosen feeder(s).
If you’d like more information on the feeders below, the links go to my reviews or posts about that feeder. I’ve also included Amazon links if you want to go that way.
Baffles & Poles
If you have squirrels in your area, put you feeder on a pole and/or baffle it. Otherwise, squirrels will probably eat a lot of your seed. (Also see my post about Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders.) If you have raccoons, you probably need a pole and a raccoon baffle. Whenever you buy a feeder, buy a baffle.
A feeder hung from a tree branch needs a very wide disk baffle over it. If you hang or mount the feeder on a pole instead, you need a barrel baffle. Erva makes the baffles and poles I use and they are excellent.
General Use Feeders
Some types of feeders accommodate a variety of birds. Most common are tube feeders, hopper feeders and platform feeders. I’ve had mixed luck with hoppers, so I would personally start with a tube feeder or a platform feeder.
Here are four general use feeders that I use in my yard. I think any one of them would be a great choice for a first feeder.
Feeders For Small Birds Only
If your general use feeder is dominated by bigger birds and you’d like smaller birds to eat without competition, consider a cage feeder. These are usually tube feeders deep inside a wire mesh cage. The mesh openings allow small birds in but bigger birds won’t fit. This is my favorite cage tube feeder in the yard.
Some feeders are designed to offer a specific type of food, often to a narrower group of bird species. If you want to offer suet, nyjer seed, sugar-water or mealworms, look for the appropriate specialty feeder.
Suet is popular with quite a lot of birds. Woodpeckers and wrens tend to be year-round uses. But some birds will also eat suet in late winter when high energy food sources are difficult to find. Other birds welcome suet in the spring to feed to their young.
Many birdwatchers have problems with Common Grackles and European Starlings dominating suet feeders in late winter and early spring. This upside-down suet feeder doesn’t block these birds completely, but does limit them to short bursts. This leaves more time for the other birds. I have five of these feeders and like them a lot.
Nyjer Goldfinch Feeder
If you’ve seen American Goldfinches in your area and want to attract them, consider a nyjer feeder. These tube feeders have tiny sliver holes that goldfinches and other finches can easily access. This is the nyjer tube feeder I use in my yard. (I have four.)
If your area gets hummingbirds, you might enjoy feeding them. Hummingbird feeders are filled with a sugar-water mix that you can easily mix yourself. This is my favorite hummingbird feeder in my yard. I have a large one and a smaller version.
Bluebird Mealworm Feeder
If you want to offer mealworms (either live or dried) to bluebirds or wrens, consider a mealworm feeder. You can offer them in other feeders of course. But that can draw hordes of European Starlings who eat mealworms obsessively, especially in late winter and early spring. A mealworm feeder designed to keep starlings out, takes care of that problem.
This is the mealworm feeder I use. Because I offer dried mealworms rather than live ones, I did need to tweak this feeder, but it was easy.
Start With One Feeder and Enjoy!
Start with one feeder and a good baffle and maybe a pole. Fill the feeder with food for the birds you want to attract. Then settle in and enjoy watching the birds!
Posts on Feeder Placement
Want to read more about birds? Subscribe at the bottom of the page. You’ll get an email whenever a new post goes up (and only then. Promise!) Or Find Birdseed & Binoculars on Pinterest!