Working for the Weekend: Create a Bird Buffet

Jill Staake

With migration season in full swing, it’s time to make sure your feeders are full and that you’re offering a wide variety of food to attract the most birds. While sunflower seeds are an obvious choice, some birds prefer fruit, suet, insects, or nectar. A hopper feeder may help deter squirrels, but some birds prefer to perch or cling when they feed.

This weekend, why not try a new kind of feeder and a new kind of food? Here are the feeders I’m including in my yard this migration season:

Platform Feeder: A platform feeder attracts birds that prefer more room to feed, or those that generally feed on the ground. Mine is covered to keep off pesky Muscovy ducks, but an open feeder will attract even more birds.
**Foods I Offer: Safflower seed (squirrels in my neighborhood don’t like it), Seed and Fruit Mixes
**Frequent Visitors: Northern Cardinal, Tufted Titmouse, Yellow-Rumped Warbler

Fly-Through Platform Feeder

Suet Feeder: Most folks know that suet feeders are the best way to attract woodpeckers. Consider buying or building one that includes a tail prop, which is especially popular with larger woodpeckers.
**Foods I Offer: I use no-melt suet year-round in Central Florida. Visit BirdsandBlooms.com for easy suet recipes you can make yourself.
**Frequent Visitors: Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker

Ball Cling Feeder

Ball Cling Feeder: This style of feeder seems to have become more popular recently. They are fairly small, so perfect for smaller clinging birds.
**Foods I Offer: This works best with black oil sunflower seed.
**Frequent Visitors: This is a new feeder for me, so I’m waiting to see who visits. Further north, chickadees and nuthatches love these feeders.

Block Seed Feeder: A block feeder allows you to offer seed cakes for larger birds that like to cling. They’re easy to fill and keep clean.
**Food I Offer: I like to use blocks that include fruit, nuts, and corn.
**Frequent Visitors: Northern Mockingbirds, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers

Mealworm Feeder: Insect-loving birds rarely visit seed feeders, but you can bring them to your yard by offering mealworms. My feeder is designed as an open tray covered by a dome to keep out rain and bigger birds.
**Food I Offer: Live or dried mealworms
**Frequent Visitors: Northern Mockingbirds, Eastern Bluebirds

Mealworm Feeder

Nectar Feeder: Both hummingbirds and Baltimore Orioles love to visit nectar feeders, and both of these are more common in the deep South in the fall and winter.
**Food I Offer: Sugar water made from 4 parts water, one part sugar
**Frequent Visitors: Ruby-Throated Hummingbird

There are plenty of other feeder types you can use, and migration season is the time to try them out. If you’re feeling handy, visit BirdsandBlooms.com for a list of great DIY birdfeeder projects. What new feeder(s) are you adding to your yard this year? Tell us in the comments!
  1. cecilia says

    i have never heard that hummingbirds like suet. i have never seen them at my suet feeder. maybe someone made a mistake because they then said how they make the nectar for a humm. feeder

    • Jill StaakeJill (Southeast) says

      Thanks for catching my error, Cecilia. I wrote “nectar feeder” as the header and then “suet feeder” in the next sentence. I’ve corrected the error. You are right… hummers aren’t going to visit suet feeders! As for woodpeckers, some will eat dry seeds very happily, if offered from a feeder where they can perch. Red-bellied woodpeckers visit my platform feeder for safflower seed all year long!

  2. cecilia says

    i had always heard that woodpeckers would not eat dry birdseed that is in feeders. i have always put out suet for them. starting this year i have seen them ignore the suet feeder and hang comically on my regular birdfeeder eating there.

  3. ALISON says

    I KEEP MY RED HUMMINGBIRD FEEDERS UP TILL OCT 15, HERE IN RHODE ISLAND ZONE 6, THERE ARE 2 FEMALE HUMMINGBIRDS HANGING AROUND MY BACK YARD , DRINKING FROM THE FEEDERS. WHEN DO THEY KNOW TO FLY SOUTH !! ??

    • Jill StaakeJill (Southeast) says

      Alison – The “whys” and “hows” of migration are still a mystery in many ways. It’s generally believed that the shorter days of late summer trigger the beginning of migration. We do know that male hummers leave first, followed by females, with juveniles of both sexes being the last to head south. They seem to follow similar paths each year, according to banding studies. Much more information is available here at JourneyNorth’s website: http://www.learner.org/jnorth/humm/index.html

  4. Rose Rothermel says

    I have found that the woddpeckers prefer my homemaid suet to store bought! And some days they just want to eat out of the suet log and don’t touch the block! I’m thinking that they like homemade better because I put lots of peanut butter in, but make sure that I also put alot of corn meal in also for easy swallowing!

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