What are Bird Feeders?

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Bird feeders are containers resembling lanterns into which solicitous humans place seeds or other types of bird feed, to attract and feed the birds in the surrounding area. If placed in a spot easily viewed from inside the home, bird feeders can provide hours of entertainment for both children and adults. Family members can watch as birds flutter at the feeder to inspect it, then ultimately enjoy a bird-sized feast. Many birds will come back again and again, using the bird feeder as their main food source. It can even become a territorial object. Sometimes birds will become possessive, trying to frighten away interlopers that come to partake.

Two birds in a backyard.
Two birds in a backyard.

There are many different types of bird feeders available. Hanging bird feeders are usually hung in trees or below the eaves of a porch or patio. Hanging bird feeders are convenient because they are easy to place almost anywhere. Stationary bird feeders are available in two types: those that can be attached to a tree, and those that are perched atop a pole. If a yard, park or nature area has plenty of trees, a stationary bird feeder can easily be nailed to a trunk. If few or only small trees are available, the pole style is handy.

Squirrels often feed from bird feeders.
Squirrels often feed from bird feeders.

Of the three types of bird feeders, there are many varieties; wooden, plastic, glass, metal, and stone. Wooden bird feeders are by far the most popular, as they blend in with a woodland scenery. Many bird feeders claim to be protected from squirrels. Squirrels may visit the bird feeder and hoard all the seeds, not to mention, scare away all the birds; but very few bird feeders are truly squirrel proof.

When a bird feeder begins to attract many birds--especially the same birds over and over--you can assume they are using it as their primary feed source. In this situation, it is imperative that the bird feeder be kept full of feed at all times. This might mean replenishing the feeder more than once a day, depending on how many birds are using it. Note that the ground beneath the feeder will become littered with seeds and droppings, so choose the spot for your bird feeder wisely.

For safety precautions, make sure your bird feeders are secure. Hanging bird feeders may swing on windy days and should be checked regularly for integrity. If a hanging bird feeder were to fall, birds could be injured or killed, and anyone standing beneath the feeder could also be injured. Stationary bird feeders should be checked, as well. A safe, sturdy, well-filled bird feeder can be a joy for years to come.

Paulla Estes
Paulla Estes

Paulla is a freelance writer and website editor who currently lives in Maine. Paulla has a B.A. in English Literature from George Mason University and over 15 years of experience as a freelancer. She relishes the flexibility and consistency of working on wiseGEEK articles, as well as the opportunity to constantly learn something new.

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Discussion Comments


My neighbor has a flower garden with bird feeders galore. She uses a special pole that curves outward at the top in four directions, so she can hang four different bird feeders at various levels.

On top of that, she has feeders that each have four feeding stations. So, at any one time, she could potentially have forty-eight birds in the feeder area!

She uses decorative feeders that have been painted with various colorful flowers. I actually prefer the transparent kind, because you can tell when you need to refill them without having to look inside. However, I know that she is going for an artistic effect, since the feeding area is in the center of her flower garden.


@Oceana – My grandparents have a bird seed feeder that lets them put in three different types of food. This would be ideal for you.

The feeder has three separate plastic tubes, so the seeds won't mix together. Each tube has three perches on it, so you could get quite a few birds there at the same time.

It is the most complex bird feeder I have ever seen. I'm used to the kind designed for one bird at a time and filled with one kind of seed, so this is very advanced to me.


I'm looking for a really good pole bird feeder. I have so many different birds that visit my yard, though, and I'm not sure if they all like to eat the same thing!

Is there a kind of feeder that lets you put more than one type of food inside it? I would like to attract as many different birds as possible, because I plan to photograph them from a distance while they are perched there.

I am making a birdwatching website, and I need to get some good photos of as many birds as possible. I can hang out pretty far away and zoom in on them, because my digital camera is high quality.


My mother loves hummingbirds, so I got her a backyard bird feeder designed to attract them. She hung it from the porch so that she could see them out the window, rather than having to walk all the way to the garden, where the flowers attract them naturally.

This bird feeder came with a special liquid food that hummingbirds love. I know it contains sugar, and I've heard it is easy to make at home.

Before long, the hummingbirds that came to visit the garden figured out that the feeder was there, and they started making it part of their regular rounds. My mother got to see the little birds without ever having to leave her chair.

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