We tested bird feeders from Brome, Woodlink, Birds Choice, Perky-Pet, and others to find the best for your feathered friends
By Clark Tate ⋅ Senior Review Editor ⋅ Dec 5, 2022
To find the best bird feeder, we investigated nearly 40 options before buying the top 16 to test side-by-side. Whether you're a fan of finches, a hummingbird enthusiast, or a woodpecker fanatic, we've found a feeder for you. We tracked how quickly seeds disappeared from each feeder and scheduled daily observations to see how bird species interacted with each feeder. There are easy-to-clean and fill options, those that draw in less common species, and those that keep sneaky squirrels and wet weather at bay. Keep reading to find the right feeder for your flock.
The Brome Squirrel Solution200 feeder was a favorite among our neighborhood flocks. Six seed ports serve several birds at once, and the outer metal cage offers others places to perch while they wait for an opening. When a hungry squirrel leaps onto the feeder, its weight drags the metal frame down, blocking the feeding ports. And they can't chew their way in. The system works brilliantly, foiling the squirrels that tried to bedevil our tests. The inner seed-containing tube also allows minimal moisture to sneak in during a rainstorm and promotes airflow thanks to perforations in the base. This helps protect the seeds from dangerous bacteria and fungus growth. It also holds a reasonable amount of seed — enough to last a day or two. During testing, we saw titmice, chickadees, and finches enjoying this feeder.
Despite these attributes, there are some downsides. For starters, the Solution200 is higher maintenance than most models we tested. We had to consult the manual several times during assembly, and it takes time to clean. Experts recommend washing feeders with soap and water every two weeks to avoid breeding bacteria or spreading disease. Scrubbing bird droppings off the metal cage is not our favorite task. That said, if you need a feeder that will appeal to a range of bird species while stumping squirrels, we think the challenges are worth the benefits. If you want a squirrel-proof feeder with more seed capacity, the BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute is another good option.
According to the Cornell Lab, platform feeders appeal to the widest array of seed-eating birds, and the Woodlink Going Green Platform certainly convinced us. It's one of our favorite feeders to watch, attracting swirls of finches and encouraging chickadees, pine siskins, cardinals, and red-winged blackbirds to settle in for a meal. Larger birds like blue jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, and even ground-feeders like doves and pigeons can also access it. Additionally, this feeder is incredibly easy to use. Just pour your seeds in and give it a quick scrub every two weeks. The tray can accommodate any type of seed, nut, or fruit you'd like. Since it's easy for the birds to see what you're offering, they seem to find this feeder and adapt to new foods faster.
While we love this platform feeder, it's not perfect. The platform design exposes seeds to bird droppings more than tube feeders, and the mesh floor can only do so much to separate them from the seeds. It also collects detritus like leaves and sticks, and there is no protection from the elements. Come rain or snow, you'll wind up with wet bird seeds. Although, the metal screen on the platform floor does help the seeds dry after a storm. Despite the large capacity, it's best to add only what you think your flock will eat in a day. Overall, we think the elevated bird-watching experience you will enjoy is worth the extra effort. Plus, for a durable, recycled product made in the USA, the price is hard to beat.
Weight Capacity: 0.7 lbs | Seeds: Thistle and nyjer
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use
Dispenses well-loved nyjer seed
Finches flock to it
REASONS TO AVOID
Hanging ring is tricky
Specific to clinging birds
Not as durable
Built to dispense thistle seeds, the Perky-Pet Shorty Finch is beloved by clinging birds with small beaks, largely finches and sparrows. Since American thistle seeds threaten to invade your yard, most people use sterilized nyjer seeds. They are rich in fats and oils and attract American goldfinches, juncos, siskins, indigo buntings, and redpolls. The birds either cling to the metal mesh tube or perch on the bottom rim to pull the seed through with their beaks, making for a fun and fluttery bird-watching experience. The feeder is also easy to use. The lid and base unscrew from the tube for quick filling and cleaning. A cone in the center of the base makes every seed easy for birds to reach so they don't spoil. And drain holes in the platform keeps them from sitting in water. In our experience, squirrels don't care for nyjer seeds, and they never accosted this feeder during testing.
This is a very targeted feeder, and thus, it won't attract a wide range of bird species. In the event of light rain, the seeds soak quickly. As you fill the feeder, the smaller seeds tend to escape and can blow away in a strong wind. The hanging ring isn't rigid, making it a challenge to place on a hook, and the ring on one of the two Shorty Finch feeders we tested broke. On the plus side, you can unscrew the tube from the awning to fill it, leaving the awning and its annoying ring in place. The feeder itself is powder-coated metal and metal mesh, which won't degrade in the sunlight and appears to hold up well. The downside is the mesh tube is lightweight and deforms easily, so treat it with care. The Droll Yankees Onyx Finch Feeder feels far more durable, but the birds didn't like it nearly as much, whereas this model makes watching finches mesmerizing, and it's reasonably priced.
If you have enough bird traffic in your yard to fly through your seed supply and have a strategy to keep the squirrels at bay (like dogs in the yard or a separate protection cone), then the More Birds Giant Combo Feeder could be a great option for you. It's a huge metal mesh tube with a divider down the middle. We used nyjer seeds on one side for the finches and filled the other with black oil sunflower seeds, a favorite of most species. The combination made this feeder a popular one. The mesh sides, perches at each of six ports, and small platform at the bottom provide comfortable feeding opportunities for a range of species. This attractive brown feeder was covered in feathers for much of our testing period.
The unfortunate thing about the massive capacity is that it takes quite some time for the birds to eat it all. While it lasts longer, the small awning does very little to keep the seed dry in the rain, putting the seeds at a higher risk for bacteria and fungus growth. This is less of an issue in dry climates or for those who don't mind frequently clearing and cleaning the feeder. Another drawback is that squirrels love this feeder too. Although they can't chew through the metal-lined ports, you will need to find a way to deter them. If we didn't have to worry about rain or fluffy-tailed tree pirates, the More Birds Giant Combo Feeder would be a clear favorite.
Suet feeders are built to house cakes of rendered beef fat mixed with additions like cracked corn, millet, and black oil sunflower seeds. The Birds Choice Suet Feeder makes it easy to offer this decadent treat to your neighborhood insect eaters, like woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. The housing is made of recycled plastic lumber (think old lawn chairs) and feels durable. The lid glides up and down the wire hanger, making it easy to fill, and the two metal mesh panels slide out for easy cleaning. The extended panel underneath is meant as a perch for woodpeckers, and downy woodpeckers used it often during our tests. Other birds like nuthatches and grackles prefer grasping the mesh.
This high-calorie treat is especially important for birds in the colder months or during migration. But suet, like any fat, melts. In warmer months, this will make a mess of your feeder and could drip into your yard and be a problem for your pets. It can also melt onto birds' feathers, posing a threat to their health and well-being. Audubon recommends substituting one part peanut butter and five parts cornmeal in the summer months and spreading it on a pine cone or tucking it into holes you drill in a small log. Even though you'll have to pack the Birds Choice Suet Feeder away for part of the year, it's an excellent way to keep birds warm in cooler weather.
With eight ports, an ant moat, and a no-leak construction, the Juegoal 12-Ounce Hanging blocks insect freeloaders while making it easy for birds to feed. While the moat is imperfect, and a few ants breached it during testing, it certainly limits their impact. And, since the nectar is stored beneath the feeding ports, there is no positive pressure to push droplets of sugar water out of the feeder, helping to keep wasps away. To fill or clean the feeder, simply unscrew the metal hanger, and the red lid and clear plastic nectar basin detach. It's incredibly easy to use, and the hummingbirds seemed to prefer this feeder to the Perky-Pet Antique glass option.
You must keep this feeder at least half full for the birds to access the nectar, meaning you have to waste six ounces of every batch of nectar you make. According to the National Audubon Society, you should empty and wash your feeder twice a week in hot weather and once a week when it's cooler. Luckily, if you're making your nectar with granular sugar and water, as Audubon recommends, that won't cost much. Our other concern is that the plastic construction will break down over time, especially if it's constantly exposed to UV rays. Consider setting it up in the shade to save money and keep it out of the landfill longer. This affordable feeder is easy to maintain and keeps our hummingbirds happy.
Why You Should Trust Us
To test these feeders, we set them out for four days, loaded down with black-oil sunflower seed. We weighed them at the start and end of every day to see how much seed disappeared from each one, repeating this process for another five days, this time rotating different types of seeds through the feeders. In addition, we spent time every morning and evening watching and photographing the birds to see how they interacted with each feeder. In a secondary test, squirrels destroyed the seed weighing plans, so we noted which feeder attracted more birds at set intervals throughout each day.
Our bird feeder testing is divided across five different metrics:
Bird Friendliness (25% of overall score weighting)
Seed and Species Variety (20% weighting)
Seed Protection (20% weighting)
Ease of Use (20% weighting)
Durability (15% weighting)
Lead tester Clark Tate hails from a bird-watching family and grew up observing birds playing in her great grandmother's birdbath (until a bear destroyed it several years ago). From bear visitors and aggressive deer to squirrel tuff wars, she and her family have worked to safely support local bird populations without letting the mammals take over. Clark went on to earn a master's degree in environmental science and land-use planning. She worked in restoration ecology for six years, often planning for and planting beneficial species to promote native bird habitats and healthy migratory corridors.
Analysis and Test Results
Our tests and observations are supported by research and reports written by well-respected groups like The Cornell Lab and the National Audubon Society. Keep reading to see how conventional wisdom applies to these feeders.
First, we checked with the birds to find out which feeders they liked best, regardless of cost. Then we looked at the price tags because we know you're the one pulling out your wallet.
The feeders that offer the best value earn above-average performance scores at below-average prices. There are quite a few excellent examples in this review. Our favorite budget pick is the Woodlink Going Green Platform feeder. It's durable, easy to use, recycled, a hit with a wide range of birds, and a great deal. We love it. The Perky-Pet Shorty Finch feeder is another excellent choice, especially if you're fond of finches; they flock to this simple, inexpensive feeder. The Juegoal hummingbird feeder also provides a great price-to-performance ratio for all you hummingbird fans.
The top-rated Brome Squirrel Solution200 costs more but also does more to keep your bird seed dry and mold-free, unlike the budget options listed above. This helps protect bird health and is especially important if you don't clean your feeder often. The BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute bird feeder is far more expensive, but it also helps keep your seed dry. And it, along with the Squirrel Solution200, keeps squirrels out of your birdseed. Those services may be worth the money to you.
According to The Cornell Lab, platform feeders attract the widest variety of birds since more species are able to land on them. Our tests seem to confirm their findings. The Woodlink Going Green Platform attracted both larger birds, like blue jays and red-bellied woodpeckers, and smaller birds, like sapsuckers and finches. At one point, we observed a rose-breasted grosbeak, a house finch, a smattering of goldfinches, and a blue jay in this feeder at one time. That is some gratifying bird watching. The Nature's Way Cedar Platform was less popular in our tests. Due to its smaller size, it doesn't accommodate as many birds at once.
Don't miss these great tips from The National Audubon Society for how to properly feed birds.
The More Birds Giant Combo Feeder is also a joy to observe. It attracts a wider variety of birds with the option of using two seed types (we chose nyjer and black-oil sunflower seeds). It accommodates perching and clinging birds thanks to mesh sides and spacious lower platforms. The More Birds feeder also provides simple perches beneath its six ports.
The Brome Squirrel Solution200 and Brome Squirrel Buster are also great options to attract a broad swath of bird species. Both have outer metal cages that accommodate clinging birds and a perch below each port for perching species. The larger Solution200 consistently attracted more birds than the Squirrel Buster, including downy woodpeckers.
Perching birds regularly visit smooth-sided tube feeders like the Droll Yankees Onyx Clever Clean & Fill Thistle Tube and Birds Choice Bear Proof. But these feeders do not accommodate clinging species. The birds steadily drained the Onyx Clever Clean feeder during testing, though less rapidly than the most popular options. We did notice that more types of birds seemed to enjoy the Onyx than the Birds Choice Bear Proof, which mostly attracted finches and titmice.
We didn't see larger birds like jays or woodpeckers use any of the tube feeders other than the Brome Squirrel Solution200 during the testing period. Finches greatly preferred the Woodlink Platform to any of the tube feeders. We recommend getting a platform alongside a tube feeder if you enjoy finches.
Hopper feeders are another classic. We tested the BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute, which took the birds a while to find it, but once they did, perchers like cardinals, phoebes, and chickadees lined up on the wooden bar. Only about three can fit at one time, which is why it received a lower score. You can set the counterweight to keep out larger, "bully" birds like grackles or aggressive jays if you'd like.
The Birds Choice Suet Feeder offers cakes of beef fat that appeal to insect-eaters like woodpeckers and sap suckers in the cooler months. They aren't the best for attracting a variety of birds, but they will really help some of them make it through migration or the winter months.
It took the birds a week to find the Nature's Hangout Clear Window feeder. Finches and chickadees warred over the relatively small feeding area. Birds waiting for an opening often tried to gain purchase on the slick plastic roof or knocked into the window. None hit hard enough to stun them, but we decided to remove the feeder anyway.
Though we saw ruby-throated hummingbirds enjoying both the Juegoal hummingbird feeder and Perky-Pet 8108-2 Antique option, they found the Juegoal first. They also seemed to enjoy it more often, though our nectar measuring tests were inconclusive.
Seed and Species Variety
The number of birds you're likely to see has a lot to do with how welcoming a feeder is and what kind of food it holds. From chunky seed and nut mixes to dried or fresh fruits, you can offer your flock any number of delicacies with the Woodlink Going Green Platform. That's a big reason why it provides such stellar bird-watching opportunities.
In contrast, the Perky-Pet Copper Panorama, Droll Yankees Onyx Clever Clean & Fill Finch Magnet, Birds Choice Suet Feeder, and the two hummingbird feeders only accommodate one type of feed each: nyjer seeds, cakes of beef fat, and sugar water, respectively. That's fine with us as they all serve an important purpose. It's hard to complain about watching a flock of goldfinches swirl around the thistle feeder, a hungry woodpecker fueling up, or a few hummingbirds hovering to take a sip.
The rest of the feeders work with most of the popular seeds and seed mixes, including black-oil sunflower seeds. More birds prefer these sunflower seeds to any other feed, so they are your best choice to attract a variety of birds without generating waste.
The Woodlink Platform,Squirrel Solution200, BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute, Droll Yankees, Birds Choice Bear Proof, and Nature's Hangout Clear Window can also hold bulkier seed mixes that include peanuts or corn if you prefer. You have to be more careful with the Twinkle Star Wild and Perky-Pet Copper feeders since their openings are so small.
The BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute and Brome Squirrel Solution200 both offer impressive seed protection. The BestNest locks down like Fort Knox when a squirrel tries to gain access. A counterweight holds the seed ports open, but if anything too heavy lands on or grabs the wooden perch, it drops and pulls the doors shut. You can adjust the weight to keep out bully birds as well; the factory setting kept large grackles away but allowed for three smaller birds to feed at once.
The BestNest awning also works to keep rainwater out if there isn't much wind. The feeder comes with a pole mount or tree hanger. There are perforations on each side where you attach the hanger, and water can seep into those. Since there isn't much airflow, you'll need to watch for mold after wet weather. We prefer hanging this feeder since it is hard to keep the pole level, and the seed can slide away from the ports when it is not.
The compact feeding ports on the Squirrel Solution200 are flush with the feeder itself, keeping the seeds out of the elements. Since birds perch beside the ports to sort through and crack their seeds, it also keeps their droppings out of their food. Brome also claims that warm, humid air can flow out of the top of the feeder, pulling cooler, drier air in through the perforated bottom to keep seeds fresh. We didn't see any evidence to the contrary.
The Brome Squirrel Buster claims to employ a similar ventilation system. Unfortunately, the platform opening is large enough to collect rain and hold snow, more so than the other options we tested. Both Brome feeders are squirrel-proof — unless the squirrels knock them over — so be sure to secure their attachment point.
Not to be outdone, the Birds Choice Bear Proof feeder protects seeds from bears, as the name implies. It certainly won't be damaged by squirrels or raccoons either. The broad lid also keeps rain at bay, though it doesn't help much when it's raining and windy.
The Perky-Pet Shorty Finch feeder has a similar roof and drainage holes in its platform to let any rainwater out. A heavy or sideways rain soaks through the light mesh quickly, though, and its seeds are so small and light that they can blow away in a storm. The Droll Yankees Thistle Tube has similar issues with the rain, and no awning at all. The Droll Yankees Finch Magnet has a metal lid and metal ports that will slow squirrels down but no awning to protect the seeds from rain. Its platform does have drain holes, though.
In contrast, the Woodlink Platform isn't the runaway winner of this review because it does very little to protect birdseed from the elements or the birds themselves. Seeds are exposed to rain, snow, and bird droppings, increasing the potential for dangerous molds, fungi, and bacteria to pile up or for diseases to transfer through the flock. Squirrels also love them. If you want a platform feeder, you'll have to be more careful about how much seed you set out and how often you clean it. You'll also have to invest in squirrel mitigation strategies. The same is true of the Nature's Way Cedar Platform.
The More Birds Giant Combo Feeder doesn't allow as much contact between the seeds and bird droppings, but it is vulnerable to rain and hungry squirrels. You'll need to stay on top of it to make sure your seed is dry and squirrel-free.
The Twinkle Star Wild Feeder does not have drain holes in the base, leaving the seeds to sit in a moat after it rains. The Copper Panorama feeder's large lid helps keep seeds dry, but its locking mechanism didn't work for us, leaving it vulnerable to squirrel attacks. The Juegoal hummingbird feeder sets a water trap for ants and avoids attracting wasps with its no-leak design. The Perky-Pet Antique option offers neither of these protections.
Ease of Use
Birds eat a lot, and you'll find yourself filling these feeders often. You want it to be an easy process. The Woodlink platform feeder is as uncomplicated as it gets; just pour food on the platform. The Nature's Way platform is similar, but the mesh floor is not attached to the wooden sides. Squirrels and large birds can knock it out of place, and it is difficult to reposition.
The two Droll Yankees Onyx options aren't much more complicated than the Woodlink platform. A push of one button opens the tube. The narrow opening makes it easy to spill seeds, but it's not overly challenging. Simply press a latch in the back of the BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute to swing the entire roof open. The large capacity and enormous opening mean it's a cinch to fill.
The Perky-Pet Shorty Finch, More Birds Giant Combo, Birds Choice Suet Feeder, Birds Choice Bear Proof, Twinkle Star Wild Feeder, Perky-Pet Panorama, and even the Juegoal hummingbird feeder are also fairly simple to use. Just unscrew or unlock the lid first. They are about as simple to fill as you'd expect a bird feeder to be.
The Brome Squirrel Buster and Brome Squirrel Solution200 require more steps. You have to unhook the top wire and remove the outer mesh to fill the Squirrel Buster. The Solution200 comes with a funnel to help you get the seed into the relatively narrow inner tube. They require more patience, but with practice, we didn't notice the hassle.
You should clean your feeder at least once every two weeks to limit disease or dangerous mold from spreading. If it's a hummingbird feeder, you'll need to scrub it (with soap and water) at least once a week, twice if it's hot out. For frequent tasks like this, the easier the process is, the better.
Wear gloves when washing or handling your bird feeder to avoid contacting bird droppings or saliva directly and protect yourself from disease. Contracting an avian flu is rare, according to the Center for Disease Control, but could result in serious consequences. You can find more information about maintaining your feeder online.
The Woodlink Platform takes the cake here. Just dump out any extra seeds or debris, scrub it down, and rinse. The Nature's Way option is nearly as simple, though two crossbars on the bottom require more work. The BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute and Birds Choice Suet Feeder are also easy, just pull up the lids (and pull out the mesh panels in the case of the suet feeder) and scrub.
The Droll Yankees Thistle Tube and Finch Magnet aren't far behind, though you will need a bottle brush or a long wooden spoon, a scrubber, and some skill. Just remove the bottom platforms, wash them, and then tackle the tubes. The Perky-Pet Shorty Finch thistle feeder is similar. Unscrew the top and bottom to access the mesh tube. It's shorter than the Droll and easier to access without special brushes. The More Birds Giant Combo is easy to disassemble and wide enough that you can scrub it out quickly without special tools.
The Birds Choice Bear Proof is tall enough that most bottle brushes won't reach the center. Luckily, that's the portion of the feeder that should stay the cleanest. To scrub it, you need to remove the lid and unscrew the lower bolt. The lower section is somewhat blocked by the feeding ports that stretch across it. It's more involved but doable.
The Perky-Pet Copper Panorama and Twinkle Star feeders are shorter, with wider openings than the rest, making them easier to access with a sponge. The trick is getting enough leverage to clean the narrow openings where the seed emerges from the tube into the tray.
The Juegoal hummingbird feeder is painless to sanitize; just unscrew the lid from the lower bowl to access every nook. The Perky-Pet Antique option is similar, except that you'll need a good bottle brush to clean the glass properly.
Both the Brome options require more disassembly before you clean them, particularly the larger Solution200. The smaller Squirrel Buster has mesh that is tightly and evenly spaced, making it easy to run over with a sponge. In contrast, the Solution200's widely spaced mesh and decorative leaves take longer to sanitize. We don't love cleaning these feeders, but it helps to know that the birds love them.
The Birds Choice Bear Proof feeder is the runaway durability winner. We can't find a weak point in this 9+ pound steel fortress. That obviously works well for bears, but it's a good investment in general. With no outer plastic parts to crack in the sun, this model is built for longevity. We feel the same about the hearty BestNest Heritage Farms Absolute and the More Birds Giant Combo Feeder.
The Woodlink Going Green Platform is another highly durable option. The platform edges are made of thick, recycled plastic that seems unlikely to crack anytime soon. The bottom mesh is a powder-coated metal that will resist rusting. What seems most durable about it, though, is its simplicity — there just isn't much there to break. That's also true of the Nature's Way Cedar Platform.
The Squirrel Solution200 and Squirrel Buster should both resist squirrel attacks. Brome claims that the plastic elements are UV stabilized, and the metal is chew and rustproof. The two Droll Yankees have metal lids to prevent squirrels from damaging them. The Finch Magnet model has metal-lined ports for the same reason.
The Perky-Pet Shorty Finch is made of powder-treated metal as well. Though the tube dents easily, it should hold up for a while. Of the two we tested, one of the top rings rusted and snapped during our testing period. It's still functional a year later, but it's far from robust.
The Perky-Pet Copper Panorama has metal elements that should help it last longer than the all-plastic Twinkle Star option since a metal roof shades its plastic tube. We also expect the glass and metal Perky-Pet 8108-2 Antique hummingbird feeder to outlast the Juegoal plastic option.
Have your binoculars at the ready? With any luck, we've helped you discover the best bird feeder for your favorite avian guests. Now all you need to do is kick back with a good bird ID book and get to know your neighbors.
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