Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes. Depending on which bird species your wanting to attract will solely depend on which bird feeder to use.
Bird Nutrition 101: Bird Feeders for Small Birds
Small birds have varying dietary and energy requirements compared to larger birds. Feeding birds has significant impacts on the environment. By understanding what foods birds love to eat, you can attract more bird species to your garden. Also, if you have a specific bird in mind, finding the best feeder can be relatively simple. Below is everything you need to know about feeding small birds.
Top 5 Types of Bird Feeders For Small Birds Only
- Hopper/ house feeders are basically covered areas that protect the seed from poor weather. House feeders tend to hold more seed than a typical tray/ ground feeder.
- Tray/ platform feeders. This is the simplest feeder type. You simply spread seeds to fill the tray. However, they are open to the elements, drainage is mandatory to prevent soggy seeds. Unfortunately, high winds can empty the tray.
- Window feeders. Window feeders tend to attract various birds, for example, cardinals, finches, chickadees, and other small-seed feeding birds. It’s a great way to watch the birds from a room in your home.
- Tube feeders is an alternative to hoppers, except it excludes larger birds because there is no perch to rest on. They also keep away other feeding animals, such as squirrels.
- Suet feeders. Suet recipes include raisins, seeds, and insects. Suet blocks are welcomed by all birds in with winter months. If you need more information, we have written a guide to feed birds in autumn and winter.
Things to Consider When Purchasing Feeders For Small Birds Only
- Type of feeder. You will need to decide which bird species you want to attract and purchase accordingly
- Seed holding capacity. If you purchase a small feeder, its most likely that it will need refilling more often
- Mounting. These come in a wide variety from pole-mounted, hanging or attached to structures. Ensure you check how and where the best locations are and keep them away from predators.
- The perch type influences which birds can use the feeder. Most birds don’t like feeding upside down, while others do.
- Material. Wood fits in perfectly with most yard décor. However, steel and plastic are easier to clean.
- Cleaning ease. Aside from the material they are made with, some feeders come apart giving easy access for cleaning.
Natural Bird Food
Providing natural food sources is an excellent way to attract birds without constantly needing to refill the feeders. The most natural foods sources for birds are;
- Insects and worms.
Reduce pesticide usage in bird-friendly areas to give birds the chance to feed on gnats, aphids, ants, grubs, and different insect types. Birds are a more effective form of pest control than most chemicals. Insects are the primary foods for the woodpecker.
Other insect-eating birds include the American Dipper, black-backed kingfisher, black drongo, brush cuckoo, and eastern bluebird.
Some birds will eat worms exclusively, while the majority of birds will avoid these altogether. Birds that love worms include American robin, American woodcock, black-bellied plover, clapper, and the European blackbird.
- Nectar and pollen.
Nectar provides a massive source of protein for birds. Dyed nectar is harmful to birds. Birds feeding on nectar must supplement the diet with other foods.
Birds naturally love seeds. Seeds come in a wide variety and each has its favorite feeding bird. Some of these bird-favorite seeds include black oil sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, among others. Birds that naturally love seeds include the titmouse and robins, among others. Safflower seeds are not popular with starlings and blackbirds, making them useful for attracting different birds.
Shelled peanuts can go in any feeder and tend to be used to fill out other seeds. Woodpeckers, jays, and magpies enjoy eating peanuts on a tray feeder. Ensure the nuts are not spoilt since they are most prone to rotting and please avoid using slated peanuts as they can cause serious harm to the birds.
It is mostly congealed beef fat. Purists prefer suet in that form, but some bird-feeding suet comes with other ingredients like berries. Suet attracts woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches. Suet cake has super high calories and offers a common treat in the winter season.
They are often referred to as thistle seeds and are grown for their edible seeds and oil. Nyjer is best suited for goldfinches and is fed in small wire feeders, better know as nyjer feeders.
Foods To Avoid When Feeding Small Birds
Birds also have foods that pose a threat to them if consumed. Though you can share many human foods with birds, some should only be offered in moderation, while others to be avoided altogether for the harmful reaction they solicit. These include;
Feeding chocolate to birds induces diarrhea and vomiting. It also affects the bird’s nervous system and could lead to eventual death. The effects of caffeine and theobromine in chocolate affect the bird’s digestive system. The darker and more bitter your chocolate, the more danger it poses to your pet.
- Fruits in the rose family
Fruits are naturally good for birds to consume in limited quantities. However, the seeds of some fruits can be toxic to birds. The seeds of the rose family members, for example, cherries, peach, apples, plums, pears, nectarines, and apricots, contain trace amounts of a cardio-toxic cyanide compound that can cause extreme reactions in birds.
All avocado plant parts contain persin, a fungicidal toxin known to cause distress, weakness, respiratory difficulty, and heart failure in birds.
- Onions and garlic
Excessive garlic and onion consumption can result in diarrhea, vomiting, and other small birds’ digestive problems. Prolonged exposure can lead to hemolytic anemia followed by respiratory distress and eventual death.
They cause digestive problems in birds, and certain mushroom parts, for example, the caps and stems, can induce liver failure.
- Uncooked beans
Uncooked beans can be a choking hazard for birds since they contain a harmful toxin known as hemagglutinin.
- Salty snacks.
Birds need a regulated amount of sodium in their bodies. However, too much salt can lead to dehydration, liver or kidney dysfunction, and eventual death.
- Coffee, alcohol, and soda
Alcohol tends to depress the bird’s organ systems and lead to death. The caffeine effects can also lead to cardiac distress, such as hyperactivity, arrhythmias, and possible cardiac arrest.
Always be vigilant when feeding your birds. In case they ingest anything potentially toxic, contact your avian vet immediately.
Bird nutrition needs complete care. Once you have your bird feeders for the small birds you want to attract, it is crucial to know what you are putting in the feeders. Some birds don’t eat other foods, and as such, it is advisable always to mix up different bird foods in your garden. Use the above guide to help you maintain a healthy feeding habit for your small birds.