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Best bird feeder: Keep your flying friends happy and fed

A great tit eating nuts from the best bird feeder
(Image credit: Getty)

Buying a bird feeder for your garden is a great way of getting feathered friends from far and wide flocking to your yard. Not only do birds add interest and variety to your yard; watching them feed can be a wonderful way to unwind. 

It will probably come as no surprise that with bird-watching becoming more popular, an increasingly huge bird feeder market is coming into existence. There's no reason to feel daunted though. With a little bit of background information, you can rest assured that you're choosing the right feeder for your garden.

The most important thing to know is that each feeder has been designed to attract particular birds. Believe it or not, birds can be surprisingly fussy about where they eat, so if you want certain varieties to visit, having the right kind of feeder can be very important.

Tube-style feeders that are hung from a height tend to be a firm favorite of smaller birds. As a bonus, because they're positioned high up, they're less likely to attract the attention of predators, so birds can eat in peace. The only drawback is that tube feeders are also popular with squirrels, so check out our guide to the best squirrel-proof bird feeders if they are an issue in your area.

Another option for small birds is a hopper-style feeder. Most of these release food when they sense a light bird, but close shut when they sense something larger, like a crow or a squirrel. For larger birds, you will need to find a ground or platform feeder, which are easier for them to feed from. You can also put greater variety of food in them than the more restrictive tubes or hoppers, including food from your own kitchen.

Working out how to attract birds to your garden takes some time, but the right feeder can go a long way in helping you achieve success in this regard. If you don't have a garden or large outdoor space, that's not a problem, as there are some wonderful window-mounted feeders that will let you get up close and personal with your flying visitors.

Whether you're wanting to see cardinals, blue jays, hummingbirds, or Goldfinches, you'll find that our guide to the best bird feeders has something for everyone.

PetsRadar's pick of the best bird feeders

best bird feeders: Squirrel Buster Plus

(Image credit: Amazon)

Squirrel Buster Plus

Best overall bird feeder

Specifications

Type: Tube
Material: Plastic and metal
Squirrel proof: Yes
Mount: Pole and hook

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek and stylish design
+
Includes cardinal ring
+
Suits different size birds
+
Large feed capacity

Reasons to avoid

-
Not machine washable
-
More affordable feeders are available

There are all kinds of bird feeders available, each designed to attract certain types of birds and with additional features depending on your needs. This Squirrel Buster Plus tube bird feeder is a great overall option because it covers so many of the bases if you want more feathered friends accessing your bird feeder with ease.

The headline feature of this bird feeder is that it is squirrel proof, and the way they ensure this is pretty ingenious. The weight of an adult squirrel will cause a shroud to lockdown, preventing the pesky rodent from eating any of your precious birdseed.

Squirrels don’t just try and eat the delicious birdseed inside a bird feeder, they sometimes chomp on the feeder itself. The Squirrel Buster Plus has covered this eventuality too, boasting chew-proof materials made of a special, tooth-proof patented RoxResin, a special compound that is also waterproof and UV balanced so it won’t fade in sunlight.

One downside is that the bird feeder is described on the packaging as dishwasher safe, but users have reported this is not the case and Brome has now removed this statement from their packaging. Fortunately, it offers lifetime support and will usually replace faulty or damaged parts free of charge, where appropriate.

There’s a lot of attention to the design here. Many tube bird feeders have the problem that they fill up with condensation, which can lead to bacteria spoiling seeds and potentially harming the birds. This bird feeder has specially designed vents that keep the seeds properly ventilated.

The Squirrel Buster Plus is weight adjustable, meaning you can decide whether or not to feed larger birds by changing the tension levels. If you find big birds are scaring off smaller birds you can adjust it to deny them access, or alternatively if you want to allow larger birds to join the party, you can adjust it to be less weight sensitive.

This bird feeder has a cardinal ring, a perching platform that is broad enough for this larger, colorful bird to feast on the seeds within. Users report being delighted with the product, with one customer saying this is the only truly squirrel-proof bird feeder they’ve seen in over 30 years.

Another user reports the bird feeder attracting a wide range of birds, from sparrows and finches to chickadees, cardinals and downy woodpeckers.

Best bird feeders Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)

Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder

Best budget bird feeder

Specifications

Type: Panorama
Material: Plastic
Squirrel proof: No
Mount: Hook

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive design
+
Beginner friendly
+
Affordable
+
Easy to fill and clean

Reasons to avoid

-
Not suitable for larger birds
-
Not squirrel-proof

The Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder is a great bird feeder for those on a budget. Although it’s made of plastic, users report it is sturdy and keeps the bird feed dry even during storms. It’s quick and easy to fill and has a large grain capacity of over 2lbs, and a durable hanging wire so it’s easy to fill and hang.

The designers have done a strong job on making this a lovely budget bird feeder to look at, with its fetching hexagonal design and charming green base and tile-effect roof, which is sloped to give your little birdies shelter from both sun and rain.

It can be easily taken apart and cleaned with mild soap and water, which is good because it’s important for the health of your local birds that you regularly wash your bird feeder. This is only suitable for smaller birds like finches, robins and chickadees, so if you want to attract large birds, it won’t do.

The feeder section can be filled with a range of mixed seeds, such as safflower seeds, which are nutritious and great for birds. The six-sided design is a good way to encourage a range of birds to feed from it without any fights in the dinner line.

best bird feeders Perky-Pet 325C 2-Tier Panorama Bird Feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)

Perky-Pet 325C 2-Tier Panorama Bird Feeder

Best stylish bird feeder

Specifications

Type: Panorama
Material: Plastic and metal
Squirrel proof: Yes
Mount: Hook

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning design
+
Large feed capacity
+
Keeps squirrels out

Reasons to avoid

-
May rust if left out in rain

A panorama bird feeder means birds can approach the feeder from all directions and you will be able to view them from wherever you are in your garden or yard thanks to the 360-degree feeding tray and perch. It also means you can get the most amount of birds around the bird feeder at any one time. 

This panorama bird feeder goes even further by offering two tiers of perches to cater for twice as many birds as conventional feeders.

It has a lockable cap to stop squirrels feasting on the grain stash, and a sloped, bell-shaped lid to provide a bit of extra cover for birds, as well as being attractive overall. The gently curved, copper finished design will make this a beautiful addition to your garden, even before any birds settle on it.

It has a sizeable seed capacity too, taking up to 4.5lb of bird feed. It features drain holes to stop water pooling in the reservoir, and the unit can be completely taken apart for ease of cleaning. Most users report it keeping the bird feed dry during rainfall, though one user reports water getting in after dripping down the running wire. 

This bird feeder is a great option for attracting a wide range of birds of different sizes, although it can get a bit messy as feed easily spills onto the ground below due to the large feeding trough.

Ruby Hummingbird Feeder - best hummingbird feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)

Ruby Hummingbird Feeder

Best bird feeder for hummingbirds

Specifications

Type: Tube
Material: Plastic and glass
Squirrel proof: No
Mount: Hook

Reasons to buy

+
Red color attracts hummingbirds
+
Plastic won’t get too hot in the sun
+
Easy to fill and clean
+
Ant moat keeps insects out

Reasons to avoid

-
Needs refilling after 2-3 days
-
Not dishwasher safe

If you are fortunate enough to live in an area where hummingbirds roam and you'd like them to visit your garden, you can't go wrong with the Ruby Hummingbird Feeder. Hummingbirds don't eat seed, but sip nectar (well, 1 part sugar to 4 parts water to you and me) and this means a good feeder needs to be easy to clean, has to be leak-proof and has to deter insect pests like ants from getting to the sugary goodness inside.

Made from a glass tube and a red, BPA-free, non-toxic, plastic base for them to perch on when they want a rest from hovering, this simple design has attracted many positive comments from hummingbird lovers. The red colour and 4 cute flower-styled soft feeding ports dotted around the base help to attract hummingbirds, while the wide-mouthed glass tube holds a good 10 ounces of nectar.

To fill the tube, you just turn it upside down and unscrew the base. This also makes it very easy to clean, which is important as you need to replace the nectar every few days to prevent it going mouldy or let bacteria build up. This plastic bottom is great at preventing leaks and won't rust over time. It also won't heat up too much in direct sunlight, which can be a problem for metal bases.

As opposed to plant-stick based feeders, this hangs from above and features an 'ant moat' you can fill with water to deter the critters from getting at your hummingbird's nectar. Overall, this feeder is a stylish and hassle-free way to attract hummingbirds to your home turf.

best bird feeders Birds Choice 2-Cake Pileated Suet Feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)

Birds Choice 2-Cake Pileated Suet Feeder

Best bird feeder for winter

Specifications

Type: Suet
Material: Plastic and wire mesh
Squirrel proof: No
Mount: Hook

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy design
+
Crack resistant
+
Fade-proof
+
Holds two suet cakes

Reasons to avoid

-
Can’t be mounted on a pole

Birds don’t spend all their time pecking at seeds, they also like to get their beaks stuck into some delicious fatty suet, which provides much-needed nutrition for extra energy reserves, which will come in extra handy in fall and winter.

A suet bird feeder is a fantastic addition to your garden or back yard, and this is one of the best suet bird feeders out there. It features a wire mesh cage that has space for two different suet cakes which means you can add different types of cake that will appeal to different birds, and it also means you won't have to refill the feeder so often.

This suet bird feeder is made from recycled poly lumber which is a durable, crack-proof plastic often used for exterior decking. This material is durable, fade-proof and will last you and your hungry birds for years.

This suet feeder has a long tail prop that birds such as pileated woodpeckers can use to support their tails whilst chowing down on some tasty suet goodness. The body of the feeder is a simple beige color with a leaf green top. There may be more flashy designs on the market but the design is tasteful and the birds it attracts will provide all the visual interest you need.

Users are keen to recommend this sturdy suet bird feeder, praising its longevity, excellent build and ease of use.

best bird feeders Woodlink Going Green Large Premier Bird Feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)
Best durable bird feeder

Specifications

Type: Hopper
Material: Plastic and metal
Squirrel proof: No
Mount: Hook

Reasons to buy

+
High feed capacity
+
Water resistant
+
Durable build
+
Easy to fill

Reasons to avoid

-
Not the most attractive design
-
Can’t be pole mounted
-
Not squirrel proof

If you want that classic bird feeder look, this hopper feeder from Woodlink is a great way to go. Hopper bird feeders are ideal for offering your birds a large amount of feed and ensure it stays secure and dry over long periods. This bird feeder can take up to 5.5lbs of feed.

The main body of the feeder is made of recycled plastic with a powder-coated metal screen bottom for draining off water. It has a large roof that covers the feed tray beneath, which is great for withstanding rain showers. Users report the bird feeder has a durable, thick-plastic build quality, which is easy to clean and keeps the seed dry. The plastic construction means this unit won’t rust or rot like some other wood or metal bird feeders.

The unit can be hung or pole-mounted, though users report it’s a little on the heavy side, so you’ll need to ensure you have a strong pole or hook to support it. The weight is likely an acceptable compromise for how sturdy this hopper bird feeder is, with one reviewer stating it was able to survive cold winter mornings and 65mph winds.

Some bird feeders can be tricky to fill but this one has a simple flip-up lid for loading feed into the glass-windowed hopper. The plastic material also makes this bird feeder easy to clean, which is important because it contains so much feed you don’t want it going moldy.

This is a really strong and sturdy bird feeder that birds will love and will last you for years. It doesn't feature any anti-squirrel measures, so it might be worth looking into squirrel baffles that can be bought separately to keep those resourceful rodents away.

Hanging dome bird feeder

(Image credit: Amazon)

Clear hanging bird feeder

Best for small birds

Specifications

Type:: Dome
Material:: Polycarbonate
Squirrel Proof?: Yes

Reasons to buy

+
Attracts robins and small birds
+
Deters larger birds like pigeons
+
Dome shelters the food

Reasons to avoid

-
A little small
-
Reflects light in very sunny conditions

This clear hanging bird feeder is ideal for attracting small birds into your garden, particularly robins! If you have tried other bird feeders and the big birds seem to dominate your garden, then you may find that this one attracts some of the smaller species of birds to your home. You can adjust and lower the dome so that only birds of a certain size can feed from, simply slide to top dome up or down to adjust accordingly.

In addition, this style of bird feeder protects and shelters the food so that it doesn’t get wet, go stale or soggy in poor weather conditions, allowing birds to feed from fresh seeds, nuts and mealworms whenever they visit. The feeder is on the smaller side, presumably because it’s designed for small birds, but this does mean it can only hold about half a cup of feed, and requires refilling daily should you get a lot of interest.

Bird lovers have been extremely pleased with this style of bird feeder, confirming it is great at keeping out other foragers and providing a safe and calm space for small birds to feast until their heart’s content.

You can hang this bird feeder anywhere – off of a tree or another high place in your garden, you can even place it close to your home so that you can watch the bird’s as they come to feed. Sometimes on a sunny day the reflective glare may mean the feeder is not seen by birds, but for the most part, this feeder does a great job at accommodating Robins, Sparrows, and other beautiful little birds.

Birds eating from a bird feeder

(Image credit: Getty)

Nature’s Hangout Bird Feeder

Best window bird feeder

Specifications

Type: Tray
Material: Acrylic
Squirrel proof: Yes
Mount: Suction cups

Reasons to buy

+
Durable rain-proof design
+
Offers close up view of birds

Reasons to avoid

-
None

Enjoy the beauty of your favorite birds close-up with this transparent window bird feeder that can be easily mounted to the outside of any window. Measuring 11.8 x 5 x 4 inches, this large feeder has strong suction cups to ensure it stays in place, and the durable all-weather design makes it perfect for every season.

With drainage holes to prevent mold from growing on the seeds and in the tray, it also has a lightweight design that makes it easy to take down and clean. The bird feeder can hold 4-cups of seeds, twice as many as most feeders, and includes a removable tray for easy refilling. 

The comfortable perch design features a padded grip on the seed tray, encouraging birds to stay for longer, and the top cover keeps them protected from rain and snow. You can also make this feeder squirrel proof by ensuring it’s mounted to a window that is away from any jump-off points.

If you’re after a feeder that allows you to view birds close up and keeps them coming back time and time again, this model from Nature’s Hangout is an absolute winner. 

best bird feeder station

(Image credit: Best Choice Products)

Best Choice Products 6-Hook Bird Feeding Station

Best bird feeder station

Specifications

Type: Pole feeder
Material: Steel
Squirrel proof: No

Reasons to buy

+
Sturdy
+
Easy to assemble
+
Great for attracting multiple birds
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Not squirrel-proof

With its attractive design and 6-way multi hooks, the Best Choice Products Bird Feeding Station is ideal for feeding a whole flock of birds at once. 

Although it looks like it may be complicated to set up, this handy feeder station is actually easy to assemble. Featuring adjustable hooks and snap and lock poles,  it won't be too long until nearby feathered friends start to drop by, and perhaps a few uninvited guests too. 

The Best Choice Products Bird Feeding Station doesn't come with a specific squirrel-proof solution so you may need to get inventive and move the feeding station well away from building structures or use a spray of olive oil spray daily to keep them from climbing the pole. 

However, it's a great starter feeding station that includes everything you need as a bird-watching novice. The pole also includes feeders, but you can also opt to add your own and get versatile if you have a surprise guest to the table. 

How to choose the best bird feeder for your feathered friends

There is a wide range of bird feeders out there, and each one serves a different purpose. One of the beauties of bird watching is that no two birds are exactly the same, each species has its own characteristics and preferences.

If you are just getting started, then a tube feeder such as the Squirrel Buster Plus is a great way to start. If you want to attract certain birds to your bird feeder look for models that suit those birds. It’s worth noting that birds can take time to notice your bird feeder, no matter how good it is. 

Some may be used to finding enough food in the local environment and take a while to make your bird feeder their diner of choice. So don’t get disheartened if birds don’t instantly start flocking to your brand new bird feeder, give it some time and experiment with different foods and setting up your bird feeder in different places to see what works best.

It’s a good idea to have different types of bird feeders in different places so that you can attract a wide range of birds to your garden. Look out for feeders that are waterproof and durable, have easy to maintain designs, and work for the birds that are local to your area. Now we’ve taken you under our wing, we’re sure you’ll be able to find a bird feeder that’s hard to beat.