12 Different Types of Bird Feeders and Their Uses (Must-See!)

Hanging a bird feeder in your yard is a great way to see birds up close. Each feeder attracts different kinds of birds.

Here are 12 different types of bird feeders and their uses: 

  1. Platform feeders are used for larger birds.
  2. Cage feeders are used to hold suet.
  3. Tube feeders are used for seed-eating birds.
  4. Hopper feeders are used for seed-eating birds.
  5. Nyjer feeders are used for finches.
  6. Window feeders are used for an up-close view of birds.
  7. Peanut feeders are used for jays and other large birds.
  8. Fruit feeders are used for orioles and other fruit-eaters.
  9. Sugar water feeders are used for hummingbirds.
  10. Log feeders are used for woodpeckers and other suet-eaters.
  11. Mealworm feeders are for bluebirds and other insect-eaters.
  12. Freestanding feeders are used for seed-eaters.

All Kinds of Bird Feeders

There are many kinds of bird feeders on the market, each with its own use. Try combining different kinds of bird feeders in your yard to see a variety of birds.

1. Platform Feeders Are Used for Larger Birds

Platform or tray feeders are great for larger birds like mourning doves and pigeons, ground-feeding birds like the dark-eyed junco, and small seed-eaters like sparrows and starlings.

They hang from a hook or sit directly on a flat surface.

If you use a platform feeder, make sure that it either has holes in the bottom or a mesh layer for drainage. Otherwise, the seeds can either sprout or rot. 

When you fill a tray feeder, you should empty the old seed and replenish the feeder with just enough seed to last a day or two.

2. Cage Feeders Are Used To Hold Suet

Cage feeders are perfect for holding suet, a fatty food for nuthatches, wrens, chickadees, woodpeckers, and jays.

You can find squares of suet at any bird store, or you can make your own at home. 

To use a cage feeder, simply enclose a square of suet inside the cage and allow the birds to access it.

3. Tube Feeders Are Used for Seed-Eating Birds

Tube feeders are vertical cylinders with perches and feeding doors meant for many different kinds of birds: tufted titmice, house finches, chickadees, Northern cardinals, grosbeaks, and more.

The best seed to use is sunflower seed or safflower seed. 

Some tube feeders, like the Perky-Pet 336 Squirrel-Be-Gone Wild Bird Feeder from Amazon.com, come with a weighted feature to keep out bully birds and squirrels. 

4. Hopper Feeders Are Used for Seed-Eating Birds

Hopper feeders are shaped like houses, with four walls and a roof. The seed is accessible to the birds through gaps between the walls and the bottom platform.

They’re great for larger birds like mourning doves, and woodpeckers, and they attract a wide range of small seed eaters, including finches, jays, cardinals, sparrows, chickadees, and buntings.

Hopper feeders protect seeds from the weather, but when bacteria or fungus grows in a hopper feeder, it can spread quickly.

Make sure that the seed in a hopper feeder doesn’t get wet, and always clean the feeder regularly.

5. Nyjer Feeders Are Used for Finches

Nyjer Feeders, usually shaped like tubes, are made from a small metal or plastic mesh.

They come with perches and feeding holes, and they hold black thistle seeds, which attract American goldfinches.

Some Nyjer feeders have a mesh sock rather than a solid mesh cylinder, like the Flying Tiger – Finch Sock Feeder from Amazon.com.

Sock Nyjer feeders typically do not come with perches.

6. Window Feeders Are Used for an Up-Close View of Birds

Window feeders are great for bird watchers because they draw birds right to your window.

They stick to the window using suction cups and have a tray for food, which means that they need regular cleaning to avoid becoming contaminated with droppings. 

Make sure that you choose a window feeder with drainage holes, like the Nature’s Hangout – Window Bird Feeder from Amazon.com.

7. Peanut Feeders Are Used for Jays and Other Large Birds

Peanut feeders are easy to make at home or find at the store.

Some come in a wreath shape, and others are shaped like a cylinder; what they have in common is a large mesh or wire coil big enough to pull a peanut through.

These can be used with shelled or unshelled peanuts.

Peanut feeders attract blue jays, woodpeckers, and nuthatches, as well as squirrels. 

8. Fruit Feeders Are Used for Orioles and Other Fruit-Eaters

Fruit feeders like the ALokik Oriole Bird Feeder from Amazon.com will attract orioles, tanagers, catbirds, and grosbeaks, as well as butterflies.

You can use these feeders to hang oranges, apples, and other fruit, as well as jellies and jams. 

Fruit feeders are great to use in the spring and the fall when migrant birds are passing through.

9. Sugar Water Feeders Are Used for Hummingbirds

Sugar water feeders come in various shapes and forms, including round dishes, tubes, and glass bottles.

These usually come in bright colors, like the red Juegoal Hummingbird Feeder. This attracts hummingbirds, the primary birds who feed on sugar water. 

10. Log Feeders Are Used for Woodpeckers and Other Suet-Eaters

A log feeder is easy to make at home; simply find an old log and drill holes into the side, then fill the holes with suet or peanut butter.

Log feeders are easy for woodpeckers, blue jays, and nuthatches to use because they come with built-in places to perch and can hold their favorite foods.

11. Mealworm Feeders Are for Bluebirds and Other Insect-Eaters

If you want to attract insect-eating birds like bluebirds, thrushes, and wrens, try hanging a small domed feeder or glass dish filled with live mealworms.

These birds will eat mealworms year-round, and they will carry them to the nest to feed their young during the breeding season. 

When the weather is wet and cold, having mealworms available can be the difference between life and death for small birds. 

12. Freestanding Feeders Are Used for Seed-Eaters

Freestanding bird feeders have covered feeding platforms on a pole, like this Westcharm Bird House Feeder from Amazon.com.

These feeders attract many different birds, from small birds like sparrows to larger birds like Blue Jays.

Make sure that you keep these feeders clean, as they can quickly become contaminated with bird droppings. 

Which Ones Should You Choose?

As you’ve seen thus far, different bird feeders are best suited for certain species.

The best options to choose are typically feeders that will attract species popular around your area.

For example, if there are very few hummingbirds in your area, you don’t need sugar water feeders. For the best results, get as many feeders as possible keeping the prevalent species in mind.