A bird feeder is a great way to attract feathered friends to your yard. “When choosing a bird feeder, look for one that is easy to clean and that doesn’t have any places where birds could get themselves stuck,” says Emma Greig, the director of Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. “Cleaning feeders is important to prevent the spread of disease, and you’d be surprised how curious birds hungry for seeds can get themselves into tiny gaps!"
You'll also want to consider where you want to place the feeder, which types of birds you want to feed, and which critters you want to keep out. When researching the best bird feeders, we evaluated products based on their design, material, weight, capacity, and overall performance. We also tested a few in our own backyards across the country.
Brome Squirrel Solution Wild Bird Feeder
Simple to fill
Easy to take apart and clean
Designed for smaller birds
Not a good size for larger birds
Seeds can fall out of the bottom
After testing the Brome Wild Bird Feeder in one of our own backyards, we've found that it makes an attractive addition to any backyard, and really did keep squirrels out, earning our top spot on our list. The tube-style feeder is rectangular in shape and made of UV-resistant plastic for optimal durability. It’s encased in a green metal cage that features decorative leaves on all sides. However, this bird feeder is not just for show! When a squirrel climbs onto it, the weight activated-shroud blocks access to the feeding ports. While testing, we noted that the very active early spring squirrels were occasionally able to climb out onto the feeder, but their body weight would pull the metal frame down, blocking the holes to prevent them from getting to the seeds.
This bird feeder holds up to 3.4 pounds of seed and can be hung on a tree branch (as we did during our testing) or stand, although hanging hardware is not included. It can be used with a variety of mixed seeds, but the manufacturer recommends using safflower or black oil sunflower seeds to attract more birds. The feeder comes with a plastic funnel that we found makes it easy to load seeds into the tube (simply slide the funnel into the top). However, some seeds did spill out, so make sure you fill it somewhere that you are not worried about stray seeds. All of the pieces disassemble easily for thorough cleaning and maintenance. To top it all off, the parts are chew-proof to prevent squirrels from doing damage and forcing their way inside.
We do want to point out a few things to keep in mind. Due to its small perches and feeding ports, this feeder isn't a great option for larger birds. However, while testing, we noted that this birdfeeder did bring in plenty of smaller finches and chickadee-type birds. And while the feeder itself is squirrel-proof, seeds can sometimes spill out the holes and bottom, attracting squirrels to the ground below it.
Price at time of publish: $90
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Plastic, metal | Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 24 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Capacity: 3.4 pounds | Number of Ports: 6
Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder
Works with a variety of seed types
Easy to fill
Comes fully assembled
Clear panels to monitor seed level
Not a good size for larger birds
The Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder is an effective yet affordably-priced option for feeding small birds. The sloping roof helps to shield birds from the rain, and the wrap-a-round perch at the base allows them to feed comfortably. It can hold up to 2.15 pounds of birdseed and can be used for a variety of seed types, allowing you to attract different types of small birds. Since the bird feeder is only 8 inches tall, it won’t be able to accommodate larger birds like blue jays, woodpeckers, and cardinals.
The Twinkle Star Feeder is made from plastic and its clear panels allow you to monitor seed levels. It also has a twist-lock roof, which is easy to refill, and keeps birdseed fresh and dry. One major downside to this feeder is that it won't deter squirrels. In fact, we read some reports of squirrels hanging on it and causing the seeds to spill out. This unit comes fully assembled and ready to hang, which is a nice plus.
Price at time of publish: $30
Feeder Type: Hopper | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 7.9 x 7.9 x 8.6 inches | Weight: 0.6 pound | Capacity: 2.15 pounds | Number of Ports: 6
Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
Small birds can perch easily
Small perching ring may deter larger birds
Battery must be recharged with AC adapter
This bird feeder from Droll Yankees comes with a steep price tag, but it offers heavy-duty construction and an innovative squirrel-proof design that makes it worth the splurge. It’s equipped with a motorized, weight-activated perch ring that will flip off any squirrels that try to access it. Large birds won’t activate it, which is plus, but some say the small perching ring deters them anyway.
There are four feeding ports on this tube feeder, and it can hold up to five pounds of birdseed. The larger capacity means less frequent filling, however, it will need to be charged regularly. To prevent it from fading in the sun, the tube is made of UV-stabilized polycarbonate. It has a metal perching ring at its base, which allows birds to comfortably feed, along with a metal cap to protect the birdseed from rain.
This unit includes a power stick and AC adapter for charging. Although it’s much pricier than other bird feeders in this roundup, its advanced design sets it apart from the competition. The feeder body is covered by a lifetime warranty, and the motor and battery charger are backed by a one-year warranty.
Price at time of publish: $168
Feeder Type: Tube | Materials: Metal, polycarbonate | Dimensions: 8.5 x 8.5 x 28.5 inches | Weight: 5 pounds | Capacity: 5 pounds | Number of Ports: 4
Nature's Way Bird Products Cedar Platform Tray Bird Feeder
Works for most birds
Simple to fill and clean
Hanging hardware not included
Small seed could slip through cracks
The Nature’s Way Tray Bird Feeder offers a platform design that’s ideal for attracting all sizes of birds to your yard. The cedar platform is coated with a water-based protective stain, which provides resistance to rot and insects. A vinyl-coated steel hanging wire and rust-free hardware help to ensure its durability. In fact, while testing, we found that the feeder stood up to rain and snow in our Colorado backyard without any issues. No hanging hardware is included, which could be tricky if you don’t have an existing hook or tree branch to support it. To solve this issue, we bought and installed a planter-style hook so we could attach it to our house (which added to the set up time and cost).
The perforated mesh tray at the center of the platform can be filled with a variety of birdseed, including sunflowers, peanuts, and specialty mixes. However, while testing, we found that small seeds, such as millet, can fall right through the cracks. The open design makes this bird feeder incredibly easy to fill—which is helpful because it should be filled when hung—and provides plenty of space for multiple birds to perch. Plus, the tray can be lifted out for easy cleaning and maintenance. Overall we think this is a great platform-style feeder, but just keep in mind a few drawbacks.
Price at time of publish: $33
Feeder Type: Platform | Material: Cedarwood | Dimensions: 12 x 12 x 2.25 inches | Weight: 1.3 pounds | Capacity: 3 quarts | Number of Ports: Not applicable
Best for Thistle
Stokes Select 38194 Bird Feeder
Designed to prevent spilling
Easy to fill and clean
Not a good size for larger birds
The Stokes Select Bird Feeder is specifically designed for thistle, also known as nyjer seed, the best type of birdseed for attracting finches. Since this thistle is so small, it tends to fall out of regular bird feeders. In lieu of feeding ports, this tube feeder allows birds to grab thistle directly through the mesh sides. The bottom tray provides a comfortable perch and reduces waste by preventing seeds from spilling. It’s made of high-density plastic to withstand inclement weather, and we only found a few reports of rust and defects.
This bird feeder holds just over 0.5 pounds of thistle, and drainage holes at the bottom help to keep the seed dry. The twist-lock top makes it easy to fill and clean. Measuring nine inches tall, this unit is quite small compared to other options. It won’t likely bring in larger birds, but it’s a great choice for attracting finches. Another incentive for bird lovers? The manufacturer donates a portion of all proceeds to bird habitat and conservation efforts.
Price at time of publish: $17
Feeder Type: Thistle | Material: Plastic, metal | Dimensions: 4.7 x 4.7 x 9 inches | Weight: 6.4 ounces | Capacity: 0.6 pounds | Number of Ports: Not applicable
Best for Songbirds
Droll Yankees Ring Pull Silver Sunflower Feeder
Designed for sunflower seeds
Available in two sizes
Easy to clean
Chew-proof feeding ports
Smaller than other designs
The Droll Yankees Ring Pull Silver Sunflower Feeder is specifically designed to be used with sunflower seeds, which attract songbirds such as finches, chickadees, and nuthatches to your yard. It holds up to 1 pound of birdseed and offers six feeding ports, allowing multiple birds to feed at once. Note that this unit has a smaller capacity than other options, which means it will likely need to be filled more frequently. However, it is available in two larger sizes–a 20-inch version that holds 2.5 pounds of birdseed, or a 30-inch option with a 4-pound capacity. Thanks to a ring pull design, this feeder disassembles in seconds, making it extremely easy to clean.
The tube is constructed from UV-stabilized polycarbonate, which resists discoloration over time. Since the lid, base, perches, and feeding ports are made of metal, squirrels will not be able to chew through them. What’s more, this product is backed by a lifetime warranty against squirrel damage. The feeder can be hung from a stainless steel bail wire or pole-mounted, depending on your preference.
Price at time of publish: $53
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Plastic, metal | Dimensions: 5.5 x 5.5 x 20 inches | Weight: 1 pounds | Capacity: 1 pounds |.Number of Ports: 6
Best for Cardinals
Brome Squirrel Buster Classic Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder
Perching ring attracts cardinals
Extremely durable and chew-proof
Small ports don’t appeal to some birds
This tube-style bird feeder from Brome is specifically designed to attract cardinals to your yard. It has six feeding ports and can hold up to 2.4 pounds of seeds. The multiple perching rings are ideal for cardinals, as they prefer to perch on feeders rather than cling to them. The perch ring is adjustable, so you can tailor it to attract small- or medium-sized birds. Thanks to a weight-activated spring, the ports automatically close when squirrels and other large birds climb onto the feeder. Some birds seem to be deterred by the small ports, however.
Made of polycarbonate, this feeder is extremely durable, UV-resistant, and chew-proof against squirrels and chipmunks. All parts detach easily without any tools required, making it easy to clean and fill. The only caveat is the price tag, which is on the steep side. However, the superior construction and squirrel-proof design is worth the splurge in our opinion. Plus, it comes with a lifetime warranty for added peace of mind.
Price at time of publish: $75
Feeder Type: Tube | Material: Polycarbonate | Dimensions: 5.3 x 5.3 x 21 inches | Weight: 2.7 pounds | Capacity: 2.4 pounds | Number of ports: 6
Best for Balconies
WOSIBO Deck Hook Bird Feeder
Attaches to a balcony
Adjustable tray and bowl
Can be used as a bird bath
Easy to fill and clean
The WOSIBO Deck Hook Bird Feeder easily attaches to a railing, making it an ideal choice for balconies. This bird feeder comes with water and birdseed trays that can be clamped onto rails up to 2 inches thick. The plastic, transparent water bowl and the metal mesh bird feeder tray extend from the clamp. Both the bowl and the tray can be turned into any direction for optimal placement. The manufacturer claims birds will be drawn to the clear water and use it as a bird bath.
To prevent rust and ensure all-season durability, the central support is made of heavy-duty, powder-coated steel. The bowl and the feeder tray are detachable for easy filling and cleaning. Perhaps the only downside to this feeder is that the open design doesn’t deter squirrels or other pesky critters.
Price at time of publish: $19
Feeder Type: Platform | Material: Plastic, metal | Dimensions: 16.5 x 9.5 inches | Weight: 1.8 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Number of Ports: Not applicable
Best for Windows
Nature Anywhere Window Feeder For Birds
Attaches to a window
Clear glass for bird viewing
Easy to fill and clean
Attracts a good variety of birds
Not entirely squirrel-proof
Suctions cups may loosen over time
This attractive bird feeder from Nature Anywhere provides an up-close view of your feather friends. It attaches to any glass window with heavy-duty suction cups that keep it securely in place. The unit is made of thick clear plastic, giving you an unobstructed view of feeding birds. Whenever you need to refill or clean it, you can easily remove the sliding feed tray without dismantling the whole feeder. The tray has two compartments, which can be filled with two types of bird seed to attract different varieties of birds.
Measuring 9.84 inches tall, this feeder is high enough that slighter larger birds like cardinals, blue jays, and grosbeaks can access it. A patented air circulation system helps keep the seed dry and fresh. According to the manufacturer, this bird feeder is squirrel-proof–as long as you keep it at least 10 feet away from ledges, branches, and gables. However, we found a few reports of determined squirrels still getting in. We also read a few reports of the suction cups losing their grip over time, causing the feeder to fall down.
Price at time of publish: $45
Feeder Type: Window | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 9.84 x 4.33 x 9.84 inches | Weight: 1.47 pounds | Capacity: Not listed | Number of ports: Not applicable
Best for Winter
Birds Choice SNTP Recycled Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder
Resistant to fading, cracking, and splitting
Can accommodate birds of all sizes
Gives larger birds a stable perch
Pricier than similar options
Suet is limited to cold weather use
The Birds Choice Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder is specifically designed to dispense suet, a high-energy food that’s very beneficial to birds in cold weather. It holds one suet cake and is equipped with an extra-long tail prop, which allows larger birds to remain stable while feeding. Made in the United States from recycled poly-lumber, this sustainable bird feeder is built to withstand inclement weather without cracking, splitting, or fading. It also features aluminum rust-resistant hinges and stainless steel screws for optimal durability. This unit is strong enough to support birds of all sizes thanks to the reinforced hanging cable wire.
Suet feeders are ideal for chickadees, nuthatches, jays, bluebirds, woodpeckers, and more. Birds can easily access the food through the mesh openings. To deter squirrels, the manufacturer suggests using a hot pepper suet cake. The only potential downside is the price, which is significantly higher than other suet cages. However, we think the long-lasting construction is worth the investment.
Price at time of publish: $25
Feeder Type: Suet | Material: Plastic | Dimensions: 8 x 3 x 12 inches | Weight: 1.5 pound | Capacity: 1 suet cake | Number of ports: Not applicable
Tested in one of our own backyards, the Brome Squirrel Solution Wild Bird Feeder is our top pick because it offers a durable and attractive design and manages to outsmart most squirrels. The Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder is a more cost-effective way to feed smaller birds. Although it has plenty of convenient features, it won’t deter squirrels.
What to Look for in a Bird Feeder
There are five main types of bird feeders: ground or platform, hopper, hummingbird, tube, and suet. Ground feeders have screened bottoms to prevent seeds from spilling and attract the largest variety of birds but should not be used if you (or your neighbors) have cats. Hopper feeders are sturdy, bird-friendly, and hold a lot of seeds. Hummingbird feeders should be filled with sugar water and placed in the shade near a window. Tube feeders, like our Best Overall, the Brome Squirrel Solution Wild Bird Feeder, are the most common type and attract small birds. Suet feeders, like our Best for Winter pick, the Birds Choice Single Cake Tail Prop Suet Feeder can be hung from poles in the winter and attract less common birds like woodpeckers and wrens.
Plastic bird feeders should have metal reinforcements and metal perches to keep squirrels away, like the Droll Yankees Yankee Flipper Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder, our Best Splurge pick. If you’re choosing a wooden bird feeder, make sure it’s made of weather-resistant cedar or is stained or painted, like our Best Platform pick, the Nature's Way Bird Products Cedar Platform Tray Bird Feeder.
The type of food you select will affect what kinds of birds frequent your feeder. Ground-feeding birds like medium cracked corn, but this type of feed tends to rot. Millet is popular for small-beaked, ground-feeding birds. Milo, wheat, and oats are inexpensive but tend to attract rodents. Insect-eating birds, like woodpeckers and wrens, like suet (a mix of beef fat and seed). If you want to attract a wide variety of birds, sunflower seeds are a great choice.
Where’s the best place to put a bird feeder?
There are several factors to consider when choosing a spot for a bird feeder. In general, it’s best to choose a quiet area that’s readily visible to birds, and your feeder should be within at least 10 feet of suitable shelter, such as brush or trees, where birds can quickly retreat if they sense danger. According to Emma Greig, the director of Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “The closer they are to windows the safer it is for birds, because they can’t get up so much speed if they are spooked and hit the window.”
If you have a problem with squirrels on your feeders, place them several feet away from surfaces like tree branches and fences to prevent the critters from jumping onto the feeder.
“If you decide to put up feeders, keep your cats indoors,” Greig advises. “That will help make sure you aren’t attracting birds to a dangerous situation.”
Of course, you’ll also want to select a location where you can easily view the birds—after all, that’s likely why you’re putting up a feeder in the first place!
How often should you clean a bird feeder?
It’s important to keep bird feeders clean to prevent diseases among your feathered friends. Greig, recommends “cleaning feeders every couple of weeks, but more often if you notice sick birds.” Because they have sugary foods, hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders can get moldy faster and should be cleaned more frequently—typically every time you refill them. You’ll also want to regularly remove old or damp seed and seed hulls from beneath your feeders to prevent them from getting moldy and attracting pests. If you happen to see sick birds, Greig suggests taking down the feeders for a while.
How can you deter squirrels from bird feeders?
Squirrels are just as fond of birdseed as birds are, and you’ll often find them attempting to climb on and eat from your feeders. There are several steps you can take to keep squirrels off bird feeders, but keep in mind that these little critters are quite crafty and can often get around basic obstacles.
To start, you’ll want to place bird feeders at least 10 feet away from surfaces that squirrels can jump off. Other tactics to help deter squirrels from pole-mounted feeders include putting cages around feeders, as this will prevent them from reaching the seed, or installing a dome or baffle above and below the feeder. For maximum effectiveness, these should be at least 18 inches wide. You can also buy specific squirrel-proof bird feeders, which have pest-deterring features built-in.
Can bird feeders attract rats, mice, and other pests?
Mice, rats, and other seed-eating pests are often attracted to bird feeders, especially if your birds are messy and leave seeds scattered around on the ground below. To keep pests away from bird feeders, it’s best to remove any ground-feeding areas or open platform feeders, which mice can easily use. You can also try hanging feeders from metal poles several feet off the ground and regularly cleaning underneath the feeding area. Since spilled seed from feeders can attract rodents, Greig says “you can try using suet blocks in winter and hummingbird feeders in summer to attract birds without any spilled seed.” Finally, store your extra birdseed in an airtight metal or durable plastic container.
Why Trust The Spruce?
Sage McHugh is a freelance writer who specializes in the home and garden sector. She makes sure to recommend products that are stylish, functional, and well-reviewed by consumers. For this roundup, McHugh considered dozens of bird feeders, carefully evaluating each product’s design, material, weight, capacity, and overall performance. For expert insight on bird feeders, she interviewed Emma Greig, the director of Project FeederWatch at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.