During the cold season, birds need a helping hand to feed themselves. Long-billed, perching, climbing, acrobatic, large or small specimens… depending on the species, the feeding mode differs. Among the many types of feeders available on the market, we help you choose the right model.
Feeder: knowing birds to attract them
Some bird species have specific feeding habits. By understanding them better, you can offer them a feeder adapted to their feeding habits. Some examples:
Chickadees (great tits, blue tits, black tits, crested tits, long-tailed tits…), nuthatches, woodpeckers and sparrows are not very demanding. They eat in any type of feeder and in various positions. A wire mesh will not bother them: head up or down, they quickly peck and fly away;
Buntings, goldfinches, robins, serins, tarins and greenfinches are looking for more stability: a ledge and a small perch will be necessary;
Magpies and pigeons, like most large birds, will not come to feeders with narrow edges. They will need to find equipment that fits their size;
Wren, warblers and blackbirds prefer to feed on the ground. They will rarely approach a feeder unless it is perfectly suited to their needs.
What are the different types of bird feeders?
Below are the main types of bird feeders you’ll find on the market:
The tray (or platform) feeder sits on four supports and are wide open to accommodate all kinds of birds, including larger ones like doves, pigeons and blackbirds. While this model allows for food diversification (pieces of fruit, seeds, blocks of fat…), it does not protect the food from bad weather, rodents and predators, hence the need to choose the right location;
The hopper feeder, to be hung, has a reservoir that lets the food run out progressively and regularly onto the tray, thus limiting waste, the risks of soiling and alteration of the food by rain. This type of feeder is particularly suitable for small birds: chickadees, greenfinches, grosbeaks, goldfinches;
The silo feeder offers the advantage of protecting the food from bad weather and dirt. The perch system under the openings allows the birds to feed in a natural position. Offering a mixture of seeds of all kinds, this model attracts chickadees, European greenfinches and goldfinches;
The selective feeder, of reduced size, consists of a metal structure with openings allowing access to a seed silo. It is suitable for certain types of birds such as blue tits, warblers and sparrows;
The tubular feeder often has a screened sleeve containing large seeds (peanuts, sunflowers). The long, thin tube helps keep food dry and provides plenty of space through its many openings. An ideal system for climbing species: goldfinches, chickadees, nuthatches, alder tarins, greenfinches, sparrows, serins… ;
The fat block feeder (without a net) is a wire suspension with large holes for easy access to the food. This model is very popular with acrobatic birds such as chickadees (blue, great tits, black and long-tailed);
The wide-open feeder is reassuring for birds that feed mainly on the ground, such as robins, house sparrows, greenfinches, chaffinches, blackbirds, thrushes, starlings, pigeons and magpies;
The controlled-flow feeder – which usually takes the form of a house – allows you to feed the birds as they come, thus avoiding waste. This type of product is suitable for acrobats as well as the less adept.
Bird Feeding: Precautions to Take
Installing a bird feeder in your garden is more than just pouring seeds from time to time and in all seasons. Our advice on :
The period. It is recommended to feed the birds mainly during the bad season and in case of prolonged cold (from mid-November to the end of March). In spring and summer, many species become insectivorous and young birds must learn to feed themselves to increase their chances of survival in the wild;
Consistency. If you start feeding, the birds will become accustomed to coming at specific times of the day. For this reason, it is important to remain constant and regular in the filling of the feeder because the search for food takes a lot of energy to the most frail species;
Place your feeder sheltered from wind and weather, in open areas to be able to observe the birds but not too close to the house because some species are shy (at least 10 m). Choose a quiet place where there is little traffic, keeping in mind that you will need to access it often. Install the feeder near a tree where the bird can fly away in case of danger and out of reach of cats;
Hygiene. When many birds are in the same area, there is a risk of disease transmission. Viruses and bacteria are transmitted through droppings or direct contact between animals. It is therefore important to clean the feeder regularly (especially if it is a tray model) with warm water, soap (or household vinegar) and a brush. Also remember to pick up any seeds that have fallen to the ground, which can be nibbled on by rodents carrying salmonella;
The watering hole. In winter, in some regions, frost or snow make it difficult to access water. Consider providing a watering hole for the birds, preferably on the ground to restrict access to predators.