The most common types of bird feeders include the platform (tray) feeder, the window feeder, the tube feeder, the hopper feeder, the suet feeder and the nectar feeder. There are a lot of variations that have come out in the market today that are derived from these styles. Some are relatively elaborate structures while others are simple that can readily be made from materials found in one’s home.

The wire-mesh feeder is perfect for holding shelled peanuts. Birds that are considered as wire-mesh feeders such as Blue Jays, Woodpeckers and Chickadees can be very fun to watch as they pick the food out one at a time. It works equally well in dispensing black oil sunflower seeds and most of the larger seeds. Most wire-mesh feeders are tubular although some are shaped like hoppers that may be attached to a platform. In this case, birds can perch to feed rather than having to cling to the mesh. Small, round millet grains are not a good choice for these bird feeders as they pour through the opening.

Mesh bags, also called thistle socks are widely available for use in dispensing niger seeds. Refillable sacks made of fabric and disposable ones made of plastic are likewise available. These sacks should be hung in a protected place as squirrels and rain can quickly ruin them.

The easiest home-made suet feeder is the bag that onions come in from the store. The mesh bag is perfect from dropping in suet to be tied or banded at the top and hung outside. A half yard of nylon netting with the largest holes sold at fabric stores is an alternative material. Many people use clean and empty cans as suet feeders by punching near the top edge on either side of the can. A sturdy wire, ribbon or twine is used for a hanger.

Caged bird feeders keep squirrels and other undesired animals out of the seed. It uses a cage surrounding the seed reservoir to keep larger birds at bay. The cage is weight sensitive thus a wire shroud drops down over the seed port when animals that weigh beyond the expected weight rest on the perches. The shroud has a variety of surfaces for small clinging birds. Perches can be removed for an even more selective feeding.

Thistle feeders have very small slits made especially for the beaks of finches. These are usually hung 4 to 6 feet off the ground and hung near a safe haven. A great place to hang this bird feeder is around coniferous tress which is a place of safety for birds to hide between bites. Another variation is the weathercock feeder which is mounted on a pivot. This feeder swings away from the wind when it blows against the projecting vanes.

A simple bird feeder can be made by suspending half of a coconut shell from a tree branch. Children would have hours and hours of fun making bird feeders from soda bottles, milk cartons and coffee cans. The possibilities of creating unique but low-cost bird feeders are endless. It is as unlimited as the imagination of children.

Saucers from old clay pots become instant bird feeders when filled with seeds. An old garden glove, boot or sneaker nailed to one of the bird feeder platforms can contain some branches to provide a perching place for birds while waiting for their turn at the feeder. A bouquet of sunflowers or other flowers with seeds can be placed at the side of the bird feeder for birds to enjoy. Evidently, cost should not prevent anyone from putting up bird feeders. No one should be deprived of the simple joys derived from feeding birds.