They say that a robin sighting is one of the first signs of spring. And if you want to attract more of your feathered friends, a bird feeder’s the way to go. Not only will it help nourish hungry birds, but it’s a surprisingly painless way to bring a little joy to your home!

Here are some tips on how to choose the best bird feeder, based on the species you want to attract and the amount of cleaning needed.

House feeders

This is the quintessential feeder  — the house shape with the hole. These enclosed feeders are nice because you can fill it once with several pounds of food and then not think about it again as birds flock to it.

Birds that most appreciate a house feeder (also called a hopper feeder) include:

  • Jays
  • House finches
  • Northern cardinals
  • Red-winged blackbirds
  • Chickadees

Because the seed is protected from the elements, you only need to clean house feeders about once a month. Just be sure to completely empty it before washing and drying.

Platform feeders

Also known as a “tray feeder,” this comes with a platform on which birds can stand and feed. What you get is an excellent view of quite the social gathering. 

Species that swarm to platform feeders include:

  • Pigeons
  • Song sparrows
  • Starlings
  • House finches
  • Jays

Platform feeders are easy to clean. Just make sure the remaining seeds aren’t wet or they can grow mold. If it’s been raining, throw them out before refilling. One caveat: platform feeders can also attract squirrels, deer, and other non-feathered friends — so be on the look out. 

Window feeders

These small plastic feeders attach to your window with suction cups or hook onto the window sill. If you work from home especially, you get a close-up spectacle of an array of birds … a nice break from staring at the computer screen. And as a bonus, window feeders can help deter birds from accidentally crashing into the window.

Birds that are attracted to window feeders include:

  • Chickadees
  • Finches
  • Titmice
  • Sparrows

These typically need to be cleaned and refilled daily.

Tube feeders

These hanging feeders are great for deterring larger birds and animals, like jays and squirrels, while attracting smaller birds that can sit on the perch. You can even find ones that have perches designed for birds that feed upside down, like goldfinches.

Tube feeding fans include:

  • House finches
  • Goldfinches
  • Chickadees

Check the feeder every day or so to see if it needs a cleaning or refill.

Suet feeders

Another common craft project is suet-ready food, such as peanut butter mixed with seeds. Hang your suet chunk in a mesh bag from trees or poles in your backyard. They’re especially good for winter as the caloric feed offers a reliable food source when it might otherwise be scarce.

Suet feeders are popular with:

  • Bluebirds
  • Jays
  • Woodpeckers
  • Starlings
  • Warblers
  • Wrens
  • Cardinals

Note: heat from the sun can spoil the suet so if you keep yours out close to summer, check to make sure the feed is fresh.

Oh, and those robins that signify the start of spring? If you have trees and shrubs on your property, then you’ve already got yourself the perfect robin feeder.

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about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.