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What Are the Different Types of Finch Feeders?

A.M. Boyle
A.M. Boyle

Many backyard bird-watchers enjoy the sight of finches fluttering around their bird feeders. The most popular types of finch feeders include tube, mesh, and cage feeders. These devices accommodate the small, feathered visitors while keeping other birds and unwelcome intruders at bay.

Finches are small, colorful, playful birds that generally enjoy flocking together when feeding. They are cling feeders, which means that birds can feed while perched in any position, including upside down. While some birds feast on fruit, nectar, and suet, finches eat only seeds and prefer nyjer, thistle, and black sunflower seeds.

Wild canaries are a type of finch.
Wild canaries are a type of finch.

Often, people choose tube-style finch feeders for their backyard sanctuaries. This feeder varies in size and style but basically consists of a long, narrow tube, usually plastic, filled with seeds. The tube has various small holes that allow access to the food within. Several perches are generally situated at different points on the tube so that the finches can rest on the perch while eating the seeds. Due to the fact that the holes are usually quite small, other larger birds and animals such as squirrels have a hard time getting at the seeds and typically leave the feeder alone.

Finches may be a favorite sight of bird-watchers.
Finches may be a favorite sight of bird-watchers.

Another popular type of finch feeder is the mesh variety, also called net feeders. This type of food dispenser often resembles a tube feeder, except that the tube itself is made of a firm, screen-type netting and generally doesn’t have perches attached. The finches hang directly on the mesh exterior and access the seeds through the tiny openings. Other mesh feeders are made of softer netting material and, when filled with seed, dangle like overfilled socks. This design thwarts the attempts of other creatures to access the seeds, but the finches easily perch on the netting and peck the seeds through the fine mesh openings.

Some people prefer to use cage feeders for their feathered friends. This item has the same design as a tube feeder but is enclosed by a metal cage. Finches can easily squeeze through the openings of the cage, while other animals cannot. Consequently, these types of finch feeders not only safeguard the seeds against theft by squirrels and larger birds, but they also protect the finches from predators while they are eating.

No matter the type, bird enthusiasts should hang finch feeders about six feet (approximately two meters) from natural covering, such as trees or bushes. This gives the finches a place to gather prior to feeding and offers shelter in the event they are startled. Also, some people prefer to place several feeders together, and in fact, some manufacturers even sell finch feeders that consist of several units linked together. Given the fact that finches are social feeders, this is perfectly acceptable and generally results in a multitude of colorful, exuberant finches flocking to the yard.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the main types of finch feeders available?

Finch feeders primarily come in tube, sock, and platform styles. Tube feeders are cylindrical and often have multiple feeding ports with perches. Sock feeders are made of mesh fabric that finches can cling to while extracting seeds. Platform feeders are open, allowing birds to feed from a flat surface, which can also attract a wider variety of birds.

Which type of finch feeder is best for attracting finches?

Tube feeders with small-sized holes are considered best for attracting finches, as they are designed to dispense nyjer seeds, which are a favorite among finches. According to birding experts, these feeders also reduce waste and deter larger birds that cannot easily perch on the smaller feeding stations.

How often should I clean my finch feeder, and why is it important?

Cleaning your finch feeder every two weeks is recommended to prevent the spread of disease among birds. Moldy or spoiled seeds can harm finches, so regular cleaning ensures the health of your feathered visitors. During outbreaks of disease, such as salmonella, more frequent cleaning may be necessary, as advised by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

What type of seed should I use in my finch feeder?

Nyjer (thistle) seed is the preferred choice for finch feeders due to its high oil content and nutritional value for finches. According to the National Audubon Society, nyjer seeds are especially loved by American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, and Common Redpolls, making them an excellent choice for attracting these species.

Can finch feeders be used year-round, or should they be seasonal?

Finch feeders can be used year-round as finches are present in many areas throughout all seasons. However, feeding patterns may change with migration. For instance, in northern regions, providing food during winter can be crucial for resident finches, as natural food sources are scarce, as noted by bird conservation organizations.

Are there any predator deterrents I should consider when placing a finch feeder?

Yes, placing finch feeders at least 12 feet away from potential predator hiding spots like bushes or trees is recommended. Using a baffle on the feeder pole can also deter squirrels. Additionally, some feeders come with cages designed to keep larger birds and squirrels out while allowing finches to feed safely.

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    • Wild canaries are a type of finch.
      By: enens
      Wild canaries are a type of finch.
    • Finches may be a favorite sight of bird-watchers.
      By: WavebreakMediaMicro
      Finches may be a favorite sight of bird-watchers.