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Best garden bird feeders: attract birds to your garden

Spot wild birds from the comfort of your home! These bird feeders bring wildlife to you, and help support birds through the winter months. 

Small black, white and pale orange coal tit bird perched on a seed-filled bird feeder
Jellybean49 / Getty Images
Published: January 28, 2022 at 1:30 pm
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Whether you want to help wildlife through the winter months, are an avid bird watcher or just love to watch wildlife, bird feeders are an ideal addition to your garden. The best bird feeder for you will depend on what birds you want to attract, what type of feed you want to serve up, and where you’d like to hang it.

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You’ll want to pair your bird feeder with the right wild bird food, and our garden bird guide will help you identify your feathered visitors. If you want to go even further with helping your garden birds, we’ve got a variety of how-to guides on our website, such as how to make a garden bird nestbox, how to make a bird bath and how to make a nesting bundle.

Even more information on how to help your garden wildlife can be found in our wildlife gardening hub, including details on how to download our free wildlife gardening digital magazine from the BBC Wildlife app.

Don't forget that you’ll also need to clean it regularly, as bacteria and fungus can start to grow in uneaten and rotten bird food.


Best feeders for garden birds

Squirrel Buster Nut Feeder Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder

Squirrel Buster Nut Feeder squirrel-proof bird feeder

This bird feeder is a bit of an investment, but it comes with plenty of handy features, not least the fact that it’s designed to prevent squirrels from stealing all the food!

The mesh cylinder hangs from a tree, and comes with interchangeable grades of mesh which means you can use a variety of different bird feeds, from seeds and nuts to meal worm. It’s designed to provide ventilation through the food, keeping fresh air flowing and reducing the chances of mould, fungus and bacteria growing.

To deter squirrels, the feeder features a mechanism that moves when the heavy weight of a squirrel is on it and closes off the feed supply. It also features a ‘no grip’ coating on the hanging stem so squirrels can’t just dangle off there and pig out.

It’s worth bearing in mind that this is being imported from the US (hence the US birds in the photo above) so there may be additional charges.

Riverside Woodcraft Hanging Bird Table Feeder With Antibacterial Coating

Riverside Woodcraft Hanging Bird Table feeder

Made in the UK and sturdily constructed, this beautiful hanging bird table is ideal for small birds and will take a variety of different types of bird feed. It’s an attractive looking feed, constructed from wood and a recycled ‘slate’ roof which is comprised of clay and recycled plastic.

Hang it from a tree, a stand or a hanging basket bracket then pop in the bird feed of your choice. The openings are small enough to discourage larger birds such as pigeons from using it, but sadly won’t deter a determined squirrel!

There are drainage holes in each corner, and it can be washed. It’s also got an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial coating to help keep it safe and sanitary for birds.

Pidät Bird Silo feeder

Pidät Bird Silo bird feeder

If you want a dash of style with your bird feeder, then this elegant and unusual option has been created by Finnish designers and is made from 100% recycled polypropylene and 100% polyester rope, and stainless steel.

Designed around a silo system - hence the name - feed is added at the top and filters down, with each level providing both a perch and feeding trough. Ideal for seeds and peanuts, this feeder is ideal for attracting birds like finches, nuthatches, woodpeckers.

RSPB Classic easy-clean suet feeder

RSPB Classic easy-clean suet feeder

Good bird feeders don’t have to bust your bank balance. This budget bird feeder from the RSPB holds suet balls, is easy to install and clean, and comes in comfortably under a tenner.

Sturdily constructed from steel with a polypropylene lid and coated steel cage, you can hand this from tree branches, a stand or a line and watch birds come and feast! And what’s more, purchasing it from the RSBP will support the work they do to protect birds in the UK.

Homebird Window Bird Feeder

Homebird Window Bird Feeder

No garden? No problem! There are plenty of bird feeders that attach to the outside of windows using suction cups, and they are ideal for people living in flats, who don’t have access to a garden or just like to bring wildlife even closer. They are great for engaging children with nature.

The Homebird Window Bird Feeder is designed with super-strong suction cups so it won’t fall off, a protective perspex roof to deter larger birds, and a removable seed tray that’s easy to clean and refill without having to take the whole thing down. Small holes in the bottom of the seed tray allow any water that gets in to drain away, and because it’s all completely made of clear perspex you’ll be able to watch birds visit while staying warm and cosy indoors.

Bonus tip: you could also set up a wildlife camera on the inside of the window so you can keep an eye on your feathered visitors even when you aren’t at home!


How to find the best bird feeder for you

There are loads of different bird feeders on the market, and they are distinguished by certain key elements based around the behaviours and diet of different species and types of birds.

Wild bird diet: the different types of food

Different types of birds have different food preferences, and this can also change seasonally, so you’ll need to find a bird feeder that’s suitable for the bird feed you want to put in it, which is in turn dictated by the birds you want to attract and feed.

Some birds such as sparrows and finches prefer a diet of seeds. These are small and fine, so you’ll need to choose a feeder that won’t let the seed spill so will usually have solid sides and a perch with a trough-style feeding system. For bigger feed such as meal worms and peanuts, opt for a feeder with mesh sides and perches so birds can reach through with their beaks. And for suet or fat balls, large openings allow maximum reach to the food for lots of different types of birds.

Read our guide to the best wild bird foods for more information and ideas.

Where to place your bird feeder

Where you locate your bird feeder will depend on a combination of factors; the type of feeder you have, the type of birds you want to attract, and your garden.

Most bird feeders are hung from either a branch or a stand, so you’ll need to make sure there is something available to do that. If you don’t have anything to hang it from, there are also loads available on the market that attach to windows so you don’t even need a garden. Some feeders such as bird tables need to be out in the open.

All feeders should have clear space around them, and ideally not be located next to bushes or undergrowth as domestic cats, which will hunt and kill garden birds, could be lurking there. The clearer the area around the bird feeder, the less chance a cat will have of successfully stalking a bird.

How often should I clean my bird feeder?

Old, uneaten food can build up inside a bird feeder, going rotten and cultivating bacteria and mould which can make birds ill. Ideally, clean your bird feeder every time you refill it by emptying the old food out completely, and washing it in a very mild antiseptic solution, then rinsing it thoroughly, and allow it to dry completely before refilling.


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Main image: Coal tit on a bird feeder. © Getty

Authors

Aoife GlassDigital Strategist, BBC Wildlife Magazine

Aoife is an experienced journalist, editor and podcaster with a background in science communication and a passion for the environment and adventure, particularly when it’s by bike!

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