Spring is one of the most exciting times for backyard bird feeding! Beginning in March, many of our favorite bird species will be making the long journey back to our yards. As they travel to their destinations, they’ll make stops along the way for food and rest. Having feeders stocked and ready can help make your yard busy with birds and provide you with a fun and rewarding birdwatching experience this spring.
In general, it’s best to look for bird feeders that have these features:
- Easy to clean
- Easy to fill
- Large capacity
- Attracts a wide variety of birds
- Squirrel resistant (if squirrels are an issue in your yard)
- Bee and ant resistant (if feeding nectar)
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Hummingbirds will come eagerly to feeders stocked with sugar water. Once found, they will learn to seek out this rich food even if the location or appearance of the feeder is changed. Although the most traditional color for hummingbird feeders is red, researchers have proven that hummingbirds are attracted to a variety of colors. So don’t let color be a factor in your decision other than your own personal preference!
In the springtime, pests like bees and ants can be a problem at nectar feeders. Choosing a hummingbird feeder with a dome-shaped base can help deter bees while keeping sufficient space for the hummingbird’s tongue to reach the nectar - did you know that a hummingbird’s tongue can stretch twice the length of its beak? Many hummingbird feeders have built-in ant moats, which trap ants in a small cup of water before they have the opportunity to reach the feeder.
One of the most important features to look for in a hummingbird feeder is the ability to clean it thoroughly. It is inevitable that sugar water will eventually break down and cause mold, fungus, or other harmful bacteria to grow inside of a hummingbird feeder. To prevent mold growth, hummingbird feeders need to be cleaned frequently - at least every 4-5 days. Since you’ll be cleaning it often, make sure that your hummingbird feeder has removable parts that are easy to clean. Some feeders are even dishwasher safe.
We recommend having your hummingbird feeders filled with homemade nectar and set up about two weeks prior to the birds’ return. If you’re not sure when they’ll be in your area, you can periodically check the interactive hummingbird migration map for first sightings of hummingbirds in the US and Canada.
Still not sure which hummingbird feeder is best for you? Use our hummingbird feeder selector and answer a few quick questions to get personalized results just for you!
Oriole bird feeders
Orioles begin returning from their migration in late March, making Oriole feeders ideal for the spring! Since their diet is composed mainly of nectar and ripe fruit, Oriole feeders typically have dishes for jelly or nectar and spikes to feed fruit slices. When selecting an Oriole feeder, look for one that has a protective baffle that shields the feeder and its contents from the weather to keep them fresher longer. Since the sweet offerings of an Oriole feeder can attract unwanted pests, some Oriole feeders have bee-resistant and ant-resistant features to keep them at bay. To encourage the Orioles to feed for a longer period of time, use a feeder with built-in perches so they can stop and rest.
Squirrel proof bird feeders
Squirrels are the most active in the spring and fall seasons when they are in search of food. If you know that squirrels are a problem in your yard, choosing a bird feeder with squirrel-resistant features will help keep these common feeder pests at bay. Look for a feeder with a locking roof, collapsible perches, or a seed shield that will make it harder for squirrels to reach the seed inside.
Remember, the most important squirrel proofing step you can take is proper feeder placement. If a squirrel is able to reach over from a nearby foothold and avoid placing any weight on the feeder, it may be able to access the bird seed. To overcome this problem, allow for at least 18 inches/47 cm of clearance around the feeder. This will force the squirrel to climb or jump onto the feeder and cause the perches to collapse under the weight.
Hopper bird feeders
Larger hopper bird feeders are a good choice for the springtime since they can accommodate a variety of small and large birds while giving you the option to feed seed and suet in one feeder. Look for a hopper feeder that has a wide opening for easy filling, a removeable seed tray for thorough cleaning, and a large capacity for less frequent filling. Since the springtime can bring frequent rains, it’s important to make sure your feeder has a seed tray with good drainage to keep your bird seed fresh.
Platform bird feeders
Platform feeders are an excellent choice for any birder who wants to attract the widest variety of birds with virtually any type of seed. The open design of this feeder allows many birds of multiple sizes to feed at once, making for a busy and exciting experience – especially in the springtime when birds are migrating and plentiful! The most important features to look for in a platform feeder are good drainage and quality materials. Choose a platform feeder with hardware that won’t rust and wood or bamboo that is resistant to rot and insects. A removeable tray with perforations for drainage will allow water to drain and air to flow while making it easy to keep clean.
Tube bird feeders
If you’re looking to feed medium and small sized birds, a tube feeder might be the right choice for you. To maximize your bird viewing, look for a tube feeder that has a lot of perches and even-feed baffles that keep a constant seed level at all seed ports. Feeders with a wide funneled opening and a large seed capacity will make for less frequent and easy fillings. For specifically feeding finches, you may choose a mesh feeder or replace the regular seed ports with thistle inserts, which come included with every Nature’s Way tube feeder.