What Kind of Birdfeeder?

I’d like to try my hand at bird-feeding but I face lots of restrictions, so I’m looking for input from people with experience.

For starters, my building manager is very particular about feeding birds on the premises due to attracting vermin but I got permission to set up a birdfeeder if I hang it from the ceiling of my balcony. See photo of my balcony below; there are hooks for hanging plants that I could use.

Secondly, I’m on the ground floor of an apartment building in downtown of a fairly big city in Southern Ontario. There are lots of mature trees on the premises and in the surrounding neighbourhood. This is not really a restriction, but a fact.

Thirdly, all my very close neighbours are seniors so I’m thinking I’d like to attract small songbirds that don’t make so much noise so I don’t alienate my neighbours, native birds that I’ve seen around here, such as goldfinch, chickadee, dark-eyed junco, and ruby-throated kinglet.

Does this plan make sense, or is it workable? Those of you with experience in bird-feeding, what are the pros and cons of this plan? How can I improve it? Should I scrap it altogether?

1 Like

My neighbours have one of these acrylic tubes with a few small holes and perches. It only works for small birds, but for them it works really well.

2 Likes

One suggestion is to get “no mess” bird seed. It is more expensive, but since your building manager has pest concerns and because you will be placing the feeder over your patio area, it will likely be worth it to not have seed hulls piling up.

All of these species regularly visit feeders. Juncos are ground feeders, so they will clean up any seeds dropped by the other species. Given the description of your building, I would also expect a lot of House Sparrows, a nonnative species. Feeding House Sparrows isn’t really a big environmental concern, but be aware, they eat a lot. A win if you like House Sparrows, not so much if you don’t.

Kinglets won’t really visit a seed feeder, but during the winter, they will come to suet and/or jelly feeders.

3 Likes

I am an old people - I like to hear my birds sing. We do feed them (but we have our own garden) Tried feeding birds on a Swiss balcony.
Got a falcon one day (we were on the 6? th floor)
And an escaped budgie on a winter day - he was VERY cold and snuggled up till he had thawed out.

3 Likes

Ground floor is good. I had permission for a feeder on the 2nd floor until my neighbor complained birds pooped on her plants (in February–in the north ???). Anyway, I tried really hard not to cause issues. I swept up everyday and used “no mess” birdseed, as someone has already suggested. I had cardinals, chickadees, and wrens, and my heart broke when I had to remove the feeder. Anyway, all this to say, is that it is very doable as long as you are on the ground floor. Just make sure feeder is high enough to avoid cats. Enjoy!

3 Likes

I recommend feeding black oil sunflower seeds that have the shells removed. Don’t use a tray feeder. Tube and hopper feeders reduce the chance that birds will kick food out of the feeder. You could also consider a hummingbird feeder. They are no mess but you do need to keep them clean.

4 Likes

I’m a senior too and I love the birds. But some people don’t. Not even I would want a crow and blue jay sitting on the privacy fence ten feet outside my window greeting the morning at 4:30 AM. That’s why I mention small birds. And they take less room physically in my small balcony.

1 Like

I’ve had good luck with both finch tubes and sock feeders. You’ll likely see a whole lot of sparrows, depending on where you are, but probably get goldfinches, chickadees, and juncos too.

In my experience, Goldfinches are much more likely to gravitate to sock feeders with thistle seed, but you won’t get as many of the other species. A feeder geared towards—or modified for—smaller birds, filled with a high-quality wild bird mix (no millet; they’ll ignore it) will draw in multiple small species, and even some medium-sized. Northern Cardinals and Towhees are colorful, and I’m sure that your neighbors would appreciate seeing them.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen any combo sock and hopper feeders, so my suggestion would be the multi-species setup, unless you want to try getting permission to hang both or rigging up a combo yourself. (If you were going to do that, I’d suggest hanging a short sock from the bottom of the silo feeder.)

4 Likes

I looked up sock feeder. Article said it’s best for dry climates. I found screen feeders that also allow a bird to hang on in its preferred position sold locally. Any experience with them? I think that kind of feeder would discourage the sparrows.

Stokes Select 1.1 lb Capacity Screen Finch Bird Feeder | Home Hardware

We don’t ‘feed’ them. They forage in the mulch and do snail patrol. But hadeda ibis are VERY LOUD. Especially if they take you by surprise and YELL over your head. Those birds extended their range to Cape Town in my memory.
What’s a hadeda ? Now, I know.

I haven’t had any experience with the mesh feeders, but the design of the one that you linked looks good. Sparrows, juncos, and such would be most likely to perch on the edges of the catch tray, with the smaller finches holding on to the mesh. You might even get some nuthatches with @kevintoo’s recommended black oil sunflower.

1 Like

Lots of good suggestions on here already. The first thing I noticed and would worry about was the large window reflecting trees and sky. Putting a feeder there is an invitation for birds to fly into the glass. I’ve read advice that you should put bird feeders either more than 30 feet away from windows to reduce the risk of collision or less than 3 feet. At that short distance, birds flying away from the feeder won’t have built up the momentum yet to get seriously injured if they do happen to crash into the window. I don’t know if you can put something in front of the window or some stickers on the glass to make it more obvious to the birds that this is the “wrong way” to take off.

7 Likes

Our hummingbird feeder also attracts house finches and Baltimore orioles, if you like those birds

4 Likes

Thank you! I’m also curious if sunflower seed can get through the mesh. Are the holes big enough or are such feeders only for Nyjer/thistle seed? I’d ask in the store but so often the store people can only tell what’s on the manufacturer’s label.

Thanks for this. My use of a photo with the window on it was intentional because I wondered if the window might be a problem somehow or other. If three feet is the safe width, it might work. The photo distorts the measurements but I measured the space many times for other purposes, like piling furniture on it when the landlord changed my carpet a year ago. Here are the measurements:

Width: edge of cement floor to brick wall: 4 feet. Windowsill makes it a bit less but glass is set about 1 inch into wall.
Length: brick wall to wall where door is set into: 8 feet. Doorstep sticks out.
Hooks on ceiling for hanging feeder: Set 6 inches back from 4 foot edge on floor, equals 3.5 feet from brick wall, or 36 inches + 7 inches from glass.

Here’s a picture taken just now when the sun is shining and the day is bright. I’m looking in from the parking lot, the direction from which the birds would mostly be flying in. When they leave the feeder, it would be about 3 feet to the glass, depending on the diameter of the feeder.


Zoomed in close to the window where the birds will be.

Will that be safe for the birds?

There is currently no way to hang a sheet over the outside of the window.

1 Like

I’m sure we’ve had conversation threads here on Preventing window bird strikes.

That’s not what this thread is about. See the opening post.

My single comment on the topic requires a yes/no response.

3 Likes

So long as the sunflower seeds are pre-hulled, they should be fine. The nutmeats are pretty friable, so that even if a bird can’t pull the whole seed through the mesh, they can break off chunks. Nyjer will fit with no problem. Avoid mixes with Red Millet / Milo and Sorghum, as most of the birds you want to attract won’t eat it. White Millet / Milo has better acceptance.

If you want to expand on the types of birds that you see, add things like dried cherry pieces and freeze-dried mealworms. Not all insectivores will visit, but you’ve got a good chance of bringing in Eastern Bluebirds, and possibly the Kinglets. Breeding Cedar Waxwings might come to check out the cherries, too.

3 Likes

I know that’s not what this thread is about. That’s why I said there were other threads.
I thought this question:
Will that be safe for the birds?
Indicated interest.
Excuse me.

2 Likes

It is part of the larger conversation, as you will know if you read Anna Katrina’s comment to which I am responding. Her comment references the larger conversation.