Have you ever gone out to purchase a bird feeder and right away you are met with a various selection of styles and designs? It can seem like a mystery as to which feeder might work best for attracting the birds you desire. But did you know that, with the exception of specialty bird feeders for attracting orioles, hummingbird, or bluebirds, all bird feeders you see fit into one of seven categories. That includes many squirrel proof bird feeders that are available.
It’s important to know this as birds have different feeding habits and different types of bird feeders attract different species of birds. Some bird feeders are considered non-exclusive attracting both large and small birds. Others bird feeders are exclusive meaning – they only attract small birds or certain species of birds. Then there are those feeders that take a specific type of wild bird feed to attract a certain group of birds.
In our series “The Seven Basic Bird Feeders” we will discuss each of the seven wild bird feeder types, what wild bird feed to use in them, and what birds you can expect to attract. Like us on Face Book or follow us on Instagram where every two weeks we will feature a different type of wild bird feeder. We hope you join us and let us help you take the guess work out of buying a bird feeder and explain to you how different types of bird feeders will attract a larger variety of birds to your backyard.
The first feeder we will discuss in our series is a common bird feeder most people start out with. The Hopper style bird feeder
Hopper Bird Feeder - any bird feeder that is filled with wild bird feed from the top into a reservoir that will hold the wild bird feed. The amount of wild bird feed it holds depends on the size of the reservoir. The feed gravity flows out the bottom into a trough or to ports at the bottom of the feeder. It may or may not have a perch. It may just be a ledge the bird stands on to eat. It might have a decorative shape or various other shapes in a vast array of colors. It may look like a barn or a log cabin. If it has a reservoir to hold wild bird feed that gravity flows the seed out the bottom, it’s a hopper bird feeder.
It may be constructed of cedar, metal, plastic or poly-lumber made from recycled plastics. Hopper bird feeders can be hung or post mounted depending on the design.
So what wild bird feed works best? One thing to keep in mind is the birds that come to elevated bird feeders are after one thing - the nut meats. This is why we don’t recommend general white Proso millet based wild bird mixes be used in any hanging or elevated wild bird feeder. The birds will pick and sweep through the general wild bird mix to get at those precious high energy nut meats, and you end up with wild bird seed scattered all over the ground.
So in a hopper style bird feeder you will want to use; black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seed (either NutrSaff safflower or traditional white safflower) or a specialty nut mix blend with a combination of these seeds and will likely included shelled peanuts. Some specialty wild bird mixes even contain various tree nuts.
What birds will be attracted to a hopper wild bird feeder? It varies. Hopper feeders are considered non-exclusive feeders meaning they don’t exclude any bird. Both large birds and small birds can easily access the wild bird feed in them. This may be why these feeders are so popular. They will attract a large number of bird species from Blue Jays to Chickadees, woodpeckers to finches. They easily attract the Northern Cardinal as cardinals prefer to face forward as they forage in the feeder.
I prefer to use hulled sunflower seed in a hopper bird feeder as it seems to attract the largest variety of both large and small birds. Hulled sunflower attracts American Goldfinches as well as Northern Flickers.
If squirrels are a problem getting on the hopper bird feeder consuming all the wild bird feed and keeping the birds away, then consider a squirrel proof hopper bird feeder. Or you can properly locate your bird feeder where squirrel cannot jump to it and install a functional squirrel baffle. If that won’t work for you then use only safflower seed (either NutrSaff safflower or traditional white safflower). Do not mix it with other products. 99% of squirrel will leave safflower seed alone but it will attract a large variety of birds.
So if you were to have only one backyard bird feeder, a hopper bird feeder filled with the right wild bird feed would be my recommendation. You’ll attract a large variety of desirable birds. It works even better if you had two hopper bird feeders so you can offer a variety of wild bird feeds. It also helps the feeders getting over crowded, or a dominant bird claiming a feeder keeping other birds at bay.
Now when you go to look at wild bird feeders you’ll be aware of which ones are considered hopper bird feeders. Then it is just a matter of selecting one that is functional and durable.
Like us on Face Book or follow us on Instagram for the next installment of the “Seven Basic Backyard Bird Feeders” to create a complete backyard bird feeding program that will attract the largest variety of desirable birds (and a few not so desirable) to your backyard.
Wild Bird habitat Store’s HOPPER BIRD FEEDERS
Our BIRDS CHOICE HOPPER BIRD FEEDERS made from post consumer recycled plastics come with a Lifetime Warranty from fading, peeling, cracking, or chipping. They clean up like brand new even after years of use.