Staples Vs. Screws- Some inexpensive feeders use staples to adjoin wood. Other companies use screws to adjoin wood which results in a stronger product.
Hinges- Some feeders use a hinge along the roof line for easy opening to fill with seed. One long hinge, as opposed to two small hinges, would be better able to withstand the rigors of snow and ice build-up in winter.
Perches- Perches are made of wood, plastic, or metal. Standard length is about 2-inches long. Droll Yankee makes "Golden Rods" which are perches that have been shortened so that only 1/4" sticks out from the tube. (this prevents non-clinging birds from using the feeder....Usually used to keep goldfinches and deter house and purple finches.) Some feeders have a "U" shaped perch so that birds can choose to eat "head on" or turn their heads. (Cardinals like to eat without turning their head.)
Plastic- Good quality plastic feeders put a UV inhibitor in the plastic to prevent yellowing, cracking and early break down in the sun. Easy for squirrels to chew through.
Wood- Cedar has natural properties that delay rotting. Long-lasting. Check thickness of wood, some feeders are 3/4" thick or more. The thicker the wood the sturdier the feeder.
"Poly-Lumber"- Made of recycled plastic. Long-Lasting. Easy to clean.
Metal- Durable, difficult (but not impossible) for a squirrel to chew through.
Bird Feeder Construction
Enclosed seed area funnels the seed down onto a tray. Seed stays fresh because it is almost completely protected from rain and snow. Large opening on top of feeder provides easy access for filling. Attracts all birds.
Tube with large seed ports-Good for use with sunflower, mixed or safflower seed.
Tube with small "slit" seed port-Good for feeding nyjer thistle, goldfinch mix, wildfinch plus and fine sunflower meats. These seeds attract finches along with other smaller song birds.
Tube with 1/4" mesh-Good for peanut halves and black oil sunflower seed. 'Clingers' love to hang on the mesh and feed.
Tube with very fine mesh- Good for nyjer thistle, goldfinch mix, wildfinch plus and fine sunflower meats.
Trays are the part of the feeder where the bird stands to eat. They can be attached to tube feeders and come in varying sizes.
Tube feeders consist of a long cylindrical "tube" with varying size seed ports and perches for the birds to sit on while they feed. Generally attracts smaller songbirds. Cardinals and other bigger birds would prefer a tray attached to the bottom of the tube for a larger, more comfortable feeding area.
Feeder is open on all four sides and seed sits on the bottom tray of feeder. Seed is exposed to rain and snow, with some protection from the roof. Birds feel safe with an unobstructed view of their surroundings. Favorite of the shy Cardinal.
Upside Down Finch Tube Feeder
These consist of a small cup with smooth sides. Generally made of glass or plastic. This prevents the meal worms from being able to climb up the sides.
This feeder places the small seed port slit BELOW the perch. This allows only the goldfinches to feed, because house finches and other birds can not cling and "hang upside down" to feed.
Quality suctions cups are necessary for the feeders to adhere to the window. Start with a clean window and use a small drop of oil on the suction cup. (waster on the suction cup will freeze and thaw in winter causing the feeder to detach from the window.)
These feeders offer sugar water. Hummingbird and Oriole feeders fall in this category. The main difference between the two feeders is that hummingbirds have a smaller beak than orioles so the feed port is smaller. Sometimes orioles will be seen at hummingbird feeders, but they have a harder time extracting the nectar because of their larger beak. Orioles also are attracted to orange flavored nectar. Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red, but it is not necessary to add food coloring to the nectar, most hummingbird feeders have red incorporated into the design.
These cages hold blocks of suet which is a high energy food source for birds. Some have a long piece extruding from the bottom of the cage for woodpeckers to "prop" their tails on.
This consists of an open tray on short legs. These attract ground feeding birds such as sparrows and mourning doves. Also wonderful for "yard critters" such as pheasant, raccoon, deer and rabbits & squirrels. Keeps food off the ground and fresh.
Rock Valley Garden Center, Inc.
These are mesh sacks and filled with finch feed. The finches are able to cling to the sides of the sack and extract the seeds. The seed is exposed to rain and snow so it degrades faster. Nyjer thistle seed needs to be kept fresh so replace it often. If mold grows finches will know and stop feeding.
Droll Yankee - (Whipper, Tipper, Flipper and Dipper)
Heritage Farms- (Absolute feeders)
Caged Feeders- Small 2" diameter wire caging which surrounds the bird feeder, most often used on tube feeders. This allows smaller song birds access to seed and keeps squirrels out. Cardinals and larger birds generally do not use this type of feeder.