Fourth installment in a series

Last month, we discussed the first of the 12 Elements of a Thoughtful Bird Feeding Station—Foundational Feeders, designed to hold 3-4 days of food without refilling. This month, we move on to the second element: TRAY FEEDERS.

Simply put, a tray feeder is any mounted, hanging or standing (on legs) platform that is open to the birds. They can be simple small boxes or dishes, or very large trays (there is one available that is 22” x 22”!). Tray feeders are wonderful, because over time, they will draw in the largest variety of birds. They can be set up with protective covers to protect from the rain. They can be adjustable to keep out larger birds, letting in only the smaller songbirds. Mounted on a pole or hanging, they can be baffled to keep out squirrels and other critters. Most importantly, any kind of food except a liquid or jelly can be put into a tray to attract that wide variety of birds. Trays really can be fun!

At home, I load my tray feeder with loose seed (No Mess blend, oil and striped sunflower), peanuts, bark butter chunks, bark butter bits and miscellaneous seed I have in the garage. This tray has attracted Scrub jay, House finch, various warblers, curious hummers, House sparrow, mockingbirds, crows, White-crowned sparrows, Black-headed grosbeaks and more.

Most trays are made with a wood or recycled plastic (plastic wood) frame with a screen bottom for drainage and drying. The benefits of the plastic wood frame are that it is easy to clean, and it won’t rot with time. Most of these trays are square or rectangular, and the most popular sizes are in the range from 9” x 9” up to about 16” x 20.”

The smaller trays are typically hanging and stand-alone. Larger trays, like our 15” hexagonal or the 16” x 20” can be hung alone or attached to a feeder. One model of the hex tray can be screwed onto the bottom of our tube feeders. The 16” x 20” becomes a seed catcher when hung under a foundational hopper feeder. The 16” x 20” can also be mounted on a pole, either under a hopper or as a stand-alone feeder. There are several configurations for putting a cover/rain guard over this feeder.

Our DINNER BELL FEEDER is a circular, polycarbonate plastic feeder that includes an adjustable rain guard with a lifetime warranty. A wide variety of foods can be used in this feeder, including loose seed, bark butter chunks, bark butter bits, seed and suet cylinders and stackables, and mealworms. Most of the birds listed above have visited this feeder.

No feeder station is complete without at least one tray feeder. Come in and get yours today!

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.