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12 Bird Feeder Styles to Entice Various Bird Species

 Last Reviewed by Jesse Foutch on 04-14-2024

Bird watching is a rewarding hobby, but attracting a variety of birds requires the use of different types of feeders. Different bird species have unique feeding preferences and behaviors, which has led to the development of various bird feeders.

In this article, we’ll explore different types of bird feeders, from hopper to window feeders, and understand how each design caters to specific bird needs, helping you choose the perfect feeder for your feathered visitors.

12 different types and styles of bird feeders

Some of the feeders we look at in this article are:

  • Hopper feeders – known for convenience in holding a large quantity of seed
  • Tube feeders – a great choice for beginners
  • Ground or platform feeders – ideal for attracting a diverse range of birds and other wildlife
  • Caged feeders – designed specifically for smaller birds
  • Suet feeders – a favorite for attracting woodpeckers
  • Nyjer or thistle feeders – best suited for drawing in goldfinches
  • Peanut feeders – popular among woodpeckers, jays, and titmice
  • Window feeders – perfect for those who want to enjoy bird watching without a yard

Each of these feeders offers unique benefits and caters to different types of birds, ensuring that bird enthusiasts can find the perfect match for their feathered friends. Keep reading to learn more about these feeders and what types of birds they can attract to your yard!

1. Hopper feeder

Hopper bird feeders are usually house shaped with a roof and great for feeding a large variety of birds. Most will have a feeding ledge on both sides big enough for multiple birds of multiples sizes.  They can be hung on a hook, from a tree, or mounted on a pole.

Woodlink Going Green Large Premier Bird Feeder Model GGPRO1

They’re called “hoppers” because they function similar to large agricultural hoppers that store and dispense vegetables and grains. You may also hear them referred to as house feeders or ranch feeders. This Woodlink hopper feeder is a well-made product from a trusted brand.  

2. Tube feeder

birds extra large tube feeder

Tube bird feeders are usually clear plastic tubes with 2-6 metal perches staggered along the outside. They can hold quite a bit of seed, it just depends on the size. Anywhere from 1-5 pounds seed capacity is normal for a tube feeder. Here’s an example of a basic tube feeder you can buy online. 

3. Platform feeder

two mourning doves on a platform feeder
Mourning doves eating seeds from my platform feeder (buy here) | image: BFH

Sometimes referred to as tray feeders, these feeders very simple open and usually come with some type of screen bottom for drainage. They’re easy to fill and clean, and will also attract a large variety of birds quickly with the seeds in plain site. A platform feeder is usually hung from a tree or hook but can also be mounted on a pole or double as a ground feeder.

4. Ground feeder

These are simply feeders that sit on the ground either on small legs or just directly on the ground. Like tray feeders they are also open feeders with screen bottoms for drainage.

JCs Wildlife Large Ground Fly Thru Bird Feeders - Holds 8 Cups of Bird Seed - Removable Tray Makes Cleaning Easy - Covered Platform Bird Feeder - Red and Tan
get this one here

Some ground feeders may also have a roof giving birds added security from hawks and other predators. This way it functions as a “fly-through feeder”. Here’s an example of an Amish-made ground feeder constructed from poly lumber. 

5. Caged bird feeder

A caged bird feeder is usually just a tube feeder with a bird cage built around it. They are meant for feeding smaller birds like finches, titmice, or chickadees and will keep out pests like squirrels as well as larger birds like starlings and grackles.

Woodlink WLC6S Caged Mixed Seed Bird Feeder

This are actually great feeder for those reasons so we always have one hanging in the yard somewhere. This caged bird feeder from Woodlink would make a great choice. 

6. Suet feeder

hairy on suet
Hairy woodpecker on my suet feeder | source:

A suet feeder is a bird feeder that is specifically designed for holding blocks of suet. A suet cake is made of animal fats mixed with seeds and grains. It contains important high energy vitamins and nutrients that birds need. The suet feeder itself is just a cage housing for these suet cakes, most will hold 1-2 suet cakes.

Birds of all different types and sizes will enjoy a suet feeder, anything from titmice and wrens to woodpeckers. The Pileated Woodpecker, the largest woodpecker in North America, is attracted to suet feeders and is a cool bird to have visit your yard.

Image: MikeDobe |

The pileated woodpecker has a long tail compared to other woodpeckers that it uses to help hold to trees and feeders. For that reason, we recommend getting a suet feeder with an extra long tail prop. It will allow this large species to more easily clamp on to your suet feeder. 

7. Nyjer/thistle feeder

Flock of Goldfinches enjoying my Nyjer feeder during the winter.

First, nyjer and thistle are the same thing so you may hear this type of feeder referred to as either. Thistle feeders are normally shaped like a tube feeder but are made of screen or mesh designed for holding the nyjer seed.

They can attract a number of different small birds, but this type of feeder is known for mainly attracting finches and is commonly called a “finch feeder”. If you love goldfinches like I do then you should consider one for your yard.

8. Peanut feeder

Droll Yankees New Generation Peanut Feeder, Wild Bird Feeder, 13-Inch, 1 lb Nut Capacity,Green
Buy this one from Droll Yankees here

Peanut feeders, similar to thistle feeders, are tube shaped and made of mesh or screen for holding shelled peanuts. Several types of birds love peanuts and will visit this type of feeder, some of the more common ones are bluejays, woodpeckers, and titmice.  A great addition to any bird feeding station.

9. Window feeder

cardinal window feeder
Male cardinal eating from window feeder

Window feeders are perfect for people who have little or no yard of their own but also great for someone who wants to get started feeding birds as simply as possible. Window feeders stick on the outside of a window with suction cups.

Once birds find it, you’ll get an up close view of them taking snacks throughout the day. They are normally small tray feeders for seed but you can also get window hummingbird feeders.

  • Get a discount on Bird Feeder Hub’s window feeder and support this community

10. Hummingbird feeder

multiple hummingbirds at feeder
Multiple Hummingbirds at feeder, some eating nectar, some hovering waiting their turn

Hummingbird feeders hold hummingbird nectar and come in all shapes and sizes. They are usually red in color with little flowers for feeding ports that are sometimes yellow. I find a simple plastic hanging hummingbird feeder with about 4 feeding ports is the way to go.

11. Oriole feeder

Scott’s Oriole (male) | image by Bettina Arrigoni via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Oriole feeders are a special type of feeder designed specifically for feeding orioles. Some resemble normal house feeders and others may look more like hummingbird feeders. The feeder will have glass or plastic dishes for holding grape jelly, along with spikes in various places for orange halves.

Orioles love oranges and the jelly, you’ll also find many oriole feeders are orange because the birds are very attracted to the color.

12. Squirrel proof feeder

squirrel proof bird feeder
A squirrel unable to get seed from a Squirrel Buster bird feeder – our favorite squirrel-proof feeder

Squirrel proof feeders are usually hopper or tube type with built in mechanics for deterring squirrels. Many times they use a counter-weight system that shuts off access to the food when an animal of a certain weight tries to access it.

I recommend one that allows you to adjust what weight will trigger the mechanism, so you can selectively feed the birds and animals in your yard.

Keep in mind, if your feeder is hung from a hook that isn’t at least 18″ away from the pole then you’re asking for squirrel trouble. They will hang onto the pole by their little legs shifting all of their weight off of the counter weight that’s on the feeder. This allows them to steal seed from a squirrel proof feeder.

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