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Choosing A Bird Feeder - A Design for Every Taste
by Jayne Rushin

Bird feeders come in all shapes and sizes. Some are basic and efficient, others are for show. There seem to be countless interpretations of the four basic feeder styles we’ll examine: Cornell style, finch, lantern, and tray.

When choosing a feeder, you may have an esthetic preference, but also consider the design for its capacity as well as ease of cleaning and refilling. Just as you may have a feeder preference, birds also seem to have preferences. Establishing stations with different feeder designs at several locations in your garden will expand feeding options to more species of birds. Birds will come to a feeder much more readily if there is plant cover nearby. Without the safety of a nearby tree or shrub, birds often take food from a feeder and carry it to a remote protected spot.

There are numerous interpretations of the tube feeder, which is also referred to as a finch feeder. Tubular in shape, the feeder has multiple perches to accommodate birds with small beaks, such as titmice, chickadees, and finches. However, many songbirds with larger beaks like cardinals will dine happily at a tube or finch feeder. Even woodpeckers will perch, though rather awkwardly, on a finch feeder. Squirrels also dine readily at tube feeders unless defensive measures are taken.

The lantern feeder is another popular design, which can be interpreted in various ways. It has a pleasing shape and makes a nice addition to the garden. Large birds can access a lantern feeder with relative ease. Of course, that means squirrels, raccoons, and other critters without wings can readily mount a lantern feeder unless deterrents are in place.

A feeder design developed at Cornell University is "supposedly" squirrel proof. When a heavy bird or animal lands on the ledge or rail, its weight closes the opening to the food supply. The counterbalance is adjustable to accommodate only the birds you want to allow at the feeder. There are many squirrel proof feeders available for purchase.

Bird feeders do not have to be complicated or expensive. Even a simple tray or box will serve perfectly well. When using an open feeder, be sure to drill holes in the bottom so the food will not stand in water when it rains. Even with a roof, the fly-through feeder is another version of the open or tray feeder. It offers some protection from the rain but not from squirrels.

Squirrels are a major concern for many people who feed birds. There are bafflesand other deterrents, which seem to discourage squirrels, but they are clever critters and very difficult to outsmart. However, there are those who are happy to have squirrels dining along with the birds. It is a personal preference.

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