Third installment in a series

In steps 1 and 2 of mastering back yard bird feeding, you have found the foods your birds like. Now it’s time to evaluate how to build your own bird feeding station. Last month, we outlined how the 12 elements of a thoughtful bird feeding station can be divided into five groups. The first group is feeders, and Element 1 is what we call Foundational Feeders (look for the blue diamond 1 in the store).

FOUNDATIONAL FEEDERS: Simply defined, a foundational feeder is any feeder/seed combination that can provide food for your birds for at least 3-4 days. Feeders that fall into this category include fancy gazebos, hoppers (houses) in many forms, the larger tube feeders, and seed cylinders (large densely-packed seed “cakes” in a cylinder form). As with any feeder, look for models that are going to give you good viewing of the birds, are easy to refill, are easy to clean, and can be made critter-resistant.

Price-wise, gazebos are the most expensive, are very decorative, and can be a focal point in your yard. Large seed tube feeders and hoppers overlap in price, but provide the opportunity to offer different feeding venues for your birds. Both can be weather resistant. Most of these feeders (depending on the size and landscaping in your yard) can be installed to be pest-resistant. The least expensive feeders are those that will hold the seed cylinders.

Foundational TUBE FEEDERS should have 6 to 8 feeding ports, and should hold about 1-1/2 to 4 pounds of seed or seed blend. Installing the feeders with a rain guard is always recommended. They provide good protection in light to moderate rain, but not in a windy, driving rainstorm (birds need to eat during the rain, so leave the feeders out in bad weather). At Wild Birds Unlimited, our large, extra-large and super tubes meet the size requirements, as do our Fundamentals and Eliminator squirrel-resistant feeders. The design of the Eliminator and the placement of its rain guard provide the best protection in the rain. Many of our feeders also have a lifetime warranty.

Medium to large HOPPER FEEDERS, often referred to as houses, serve well as Foundational Feeders. Typically, they will hold 2 to 5 pounds of seed that will flow from the hopper into a tray-like area for the birds to feed from. Well-built hoppers will have a hinged roof, with the hinge running the full length of the roof to keep water out. They will also have a roof overhang to protect the feeding area from rain (to some degree). The floor should be a powder-coated or stainless-steel mesh to allow for drainage, and for drying of the seed on the floor should it get wet. If the floor is not mesh, make sure it has drainage holes. At Wild Birds Unlimited in Torrance, most of the house-style hopper feeders we offer are made from recycled plastic. The initial price on these feeders is more than their wood “twins,” but they last a lifetime, and are very easy to fill and clean. Periodically, we will carry “decorative” hoppers that meet these last two criteria.

Last in this group are the SEED CYLINDERS. At WBU, we offer a variety of seed blends in the form of cylinders. These densely-pack seeds are “glued” together with food-grade gelatin. The cylinders can be offered to the birds on simple pin feeders to more elaborate cylinder holders or even cages. These feeders should always be hung under a rain guard if not protected by the feeder. The cylinders come in 2-pound and 4.5 pound sizes. They can last from several days to several weeks, once the birds discover them. They are the perfect way for you to feed your birds when you go on a weekend trip or a longer vacation.

EnJOY your birds. And remember, THE JOY OF BIRD FEEDING is available in the store at $21.99. It’s a great “how to” with over 500 photographs, along with a field guide to 180 backyard birds from across the country.