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Best bird feeder: Squirrel-proof, window-mounted and feeding stations

Included in this guide:

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

Investing in the best bird feeder for your garden is the best way to get wild wanderers into your garden. Watching their feeding antics is a wonderful way to relax and you will be helping them out during times when food is scarce. However, you need to ensure your choice of feeder protects your feathered friends from predators like cats, and protects the feed from animals which would snaffle it before the birds can get to it.

If you are keen to take up birdwatching from the comfort of your own home bird feeders are a great place to start - according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, 98 different bird species visit feeders across North America alone. Different types of bird feeders will attract different kinds of birds to your garden, so depending on the kind you would like to see there are a few things to consider. Birds can be surprisingly fussy about their choice of feeding station and the food within them. For more detailed advice on this see our guide on how to attract birds to your garden, our tips on what to feed birds to keep them coming back, and how to hang a bird feeder.

Smaller birds are attracted to tube-style feeders. These are hung from a height to protect them from foxes and cats, and allow the birds to cling to them to access the feed within. These can be targeted by squirrels however, so if you want to find a way to deter those critters from stealing your birdies' meal, check out our guide to the best squirrel-proof bird feeders.

Another good choice for keeping bigger birdies away is the smaller type of hopper-type feeder. Some of these will only release feed once a light bird perches on it, however it closes again when it senses something larger land on it like a squirrel or a crow. If you aren't worried about the size of the bird you feed, there are hopper feeders available without this mechanism.

For larger birds you will need to find a ground or platform feeder, which are much easier for them to feed from. It also allows you to put a different variety of food in them than the more restrictive tubes or hoppers – including food from your own kitchen.

For those without a garden or large outside space for a traditional bird feeder, window mounted feeders are a great option. These stick to the window with suckers and are a great way of getting up-close and personal with your flying visitors.

Whichever you choose, you want a bird feeder that is easy to clean. This isn't only to make your life easier, but mouldy bird feed is the perfect breeding ground for spreading diseases between birds, so keeping them regularly sanitized is a sensible precaution. Smaller feeders also mean less spoilage when the weather is bad, so will mean less wastage in the long run.

So, without all that in mind, let's find the best bird feeder for you to satiate your bird-watching needs.

PetsRadar's pick of the best bird feeders

  • Best overall bird feeder: Squirrel Buster Plus
  • Best budget bird feeder: Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder
  • Best stylish bird feeder: Perky-Pet 325C 2-Tier Panorama Bird Feeder
  • Best bird feeder for hummingbirds: Ruby Hummingbird Feeder
  • Best bird feeder for winter: Birds Choice 2-Cake Pileated Suet Feeder
  • Best durable bird feeder: Woodlink Going Green Large Premier Bird Feeder
  • Best for small birds: Clear hanging bird feeder 
  • Best window bird feeder: Nature’s Hangout Bird Feeder
  • Best bird feeder station: Best Choice Products 6-Hook Bird Feeding Station

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.

 

Danni Poulton

Danni is a freelance writer who never met a pun she didn't like. She is the proud owner of two Tonkinese kitties, Mr Mittens and Pocket. Pocket sometimes sits on Danni's shoulder while she's writing, Mr Mittens is a bit too big for this so usually settles for her lap. Cuties!