A tube feeder is constructed with a hollow cylinder which is often made of plastic, with multiple feeding ports and perches. It is a perfect example of form matching function. The tube feeder is basically self-contained. It is able to hold a good quantity of seeds while keeping it dry. It doesn’t need refilling very often and is able to accommodate several birds at one time.
The more expensive tube feeders have sturdier tubes and better designed feeding holes to guarantee less spillage of feeds as birds eat. A heavier metal used on top and bottom makes the bird feeder much more stable. This means that they don’t swing as easily with the wind thus less seed gets scattered on the ground.
Two styles of tube feeders are available. One is designed for small feeding ports while the other has large ports. Not all tubes are cylindrical as there are tubes that have three, four or more sides. It is the idea of feeding ports built into the elongated seed container that makes a bird feeder a tube feeder.
Tube feeders are preferred by Goldfinches, Purple Finches, Pine Siskin, Chickadees and House Finches. These birds are comfortable with the tube feeder as they know that they can eat in peace without being disturbed by the bigger birds. Most tube feeders can be fitted with round trays underneath to catch spillage from birds. The tray also serves as a small platform for birds that benefit from the slung seed.
Some newer models have two or three tubes ganged together. Aside from being able to feed more birds, they also have the option of being filled with a different seed type in each tube. While most tube feeders are made of transparent plastic, other attractive feeders are made of white PVC with ports that are made of hard plastic. Stainless steel ports are squirrel-proof
Hopper feeders are shaped like miniature houses with a platform upon which walls and a roof are built, forming a hopper. These bird feeders are also called house feeders. They are able to provide protection for the seeds against the elements. Most hopper feeders are able to hold a good amount of seed thus eliminating the need to refill them often.
Hopper-style bird feeders have plastic or glass enclosures that dole out seeds as they are needed. It is a good option because seed is used as needed and large amounts are not exposed to wet or snowy weather or get kicked out by scratching birds. However, special care should be given to hopper feeders that are permanently mounted in the garden. The bird feeder will be very difficult to clean if the hopper or frame blocks the tray.
Many birds including Chickadees, Nuthatches, Titmice, Cardinals, Jays and Woodpeckers eat eagerly at hopper feeders. The tray of a hopper-style feeder should have enough room for more than two or three birds to gather and eat. Hopper feeders are not always rectangular. There are designs that have many sides or tubular, resembling a gazebo, lantern or silo and may be called by these names.
A significant innovation in hopper feeders is the squirrel-proof model. For this model, the birds need to step on a rail to reach the seed tray. The rail has a counterweight that can be adjusted such that a weight heavier than expected causes the shield to lower in front of the tray.