Hopper bird feeders are very popular, and a good choice for your backyard. They attract a wide variety of birds, and don't have to be refilled as often as other types of feeders. Read on for the pros and cons, and our tips, to help you get the most out of a hopper bird feeder.
Hopper feeders have an enclosed chamber for seed, with openings at the bottom of the chamber where birds can access the seed, along with perches for them to stand on while feeding. Hoppers come in different sizes, and all but the smallest ones can accommodate larger birds like grackles and jays.
Birds that can be attracted to hopper feeders include: finches, jays, cardinals, buntings, grosbeaks, sparrows, chickadees, titmice, grackles, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and blackbirds.
The chambers of hopper feeders are generally made of three different materials: clear plastic, wood, or metal. Clear plastic is great in that you can see the level of seed and know when to refill, but plastic doesn't hold up well to the gnawing of squirrel teeth. Wood, particularly cedar, can be quite attractive and weather well, but is also susceptible to the sharp teeth of squirrels. Metal is the one material that squirrels can't easily chew through, but an all-metal hopper means you can't see the seed level to know when to refill. Some hoppers get around this by using clear plastic panels mounted in metal. The metal protects against squirrels and the plastic allows you to see the seed level. Ah, the best of both worlds...
Some hopper feeders have spring-loaded squirrel deterrents like some tube feeders do. When a squirrel gets on the perch to reach the seed, their weight is too much, covering the openings.
Hopper feeders have two features that are highly desired: the chambers are enclosed and they can hold quite a bit of seed. But, under the right (or should I say wrong) conditions these features become disadvantages. First, the advantages. Enclosed chambers mean the seed is largely protected from rain and snow. So, there is less chance of the seed spoiling and making the birds sick. Because the chambers can be large, they don't need to be refilled as often as other feeders, particularly platforms. The problem is that occasionally the seed at the openings will spoil and allow bacteria and fungi to grow. If the chamber is not cleaned out, all the seed above can become infected and must be thrown out. If you're using one that holds several pounds of seed, this can be quite a large loss of seed.
Hopper feeders can be either hung by a hook and mounted on a pole. Just like tube feeders mounted on poles, we recommend a baffle to keep squirrels out.
Like all seed feeders, these need to be cleaned on a regular basis. It keeps them looking good, but more importantly, it helps keep the birds in your yard healthy. Click here for more details on the care of bird feeders.
Hopper bird feeders are very popular, and for good reason. They are simple and don't have to be refilled as often as other types of feeders. Plus, they can attract a wide variety of birds, with the potential to increase your backyard bird fun. Enjoy!