In the past year, as my bird-watching passion has grown, I’ve purchased quite a few bird feeders. You don’t have to have a zillion feeders of course, but I have found that having a variety of feeders can increase both the variety and the number of birds that come to visit and that’s what makes it fun! Some of the feeders have been clear winners from the start. Others have needed some tweaking to make them work for the birds in my yard. If you have considered purchasing a hanging platform bird feeder, read on!
Last year I purchased the two Backyard Boys ground platform feeders that I talked about in a recent post. These are nice, sturdy feeders that definitely have a strong place in my backyard. They are popular in my yard and many birds like them, but eventually I decided I also wanted a platform feeder that I could hang and fill with sunflower seed. I thought that I could keep a hanging feeder out of the reach of squirrels and neighborhood cats. So I purchased this Birds Choice Hanging Platform Feeder. Like all the other feeders in my yard, I had to move it around a bit to find the right location, but it really has worked out beautifully.
This feeder is 16” x 13” and has a recycled plastic frame, colored to look like wood. It is sturdy and seems well-built and even has a guarantee “to never crack, split or fade.” I expect that it will last for many years. The bottom platform is a perforated sheet of metal that is a permanent part of the feeder, fitted into a groove inside the frame. This keeps the seed in but allows water to drain out. Two black polyester coated steel arms look like upside-down V’s; their ends fit into holes in the frame sides and meet at the top at an S-shaped metal hook. The hook at the top is small, so you’ll probably need a shepherds hook or a dome or baffle with a hook to hang it. It doesn’t require a lot of assembly. Simply slip the arms in the holes, hang and fill with seed. It weighs about four pounds empty.
I first thought to hang this feeder from a large tree branch. Oh how naive that was. The squirrels promptly thanked me for providing them with such a nice roomy place to sit off the ground while they gorged on birdseed. I then purchased a clear plastic dome to go over the feeder, choosing the biggest one available in the local bird store. I quickly discovered that this dome is really a weather guard and doesn’t do much for keeping out squirrels. I don’t regret the purchase however because, while the seed will get wet if there is a lot of blowing rain or snow, the dome does keep it mostly dry in lighter precipitation. Often only the seed at the very corners will get wet. So for a while I only filled this with safflower seed, something the local squirrels will only eat if they are really hungry and there is no other choice.
I was playing around with this before I started using the flat metal Erva squirrel baffles that have worked so beautifully for me with other feeders, so I haven’t tried that type of baffle with this feeder. I suspect though that the platform on this feeder is probably too wide to be protected by the diameter of those baffles. What I did eventually purchase instead was a pole and a can baffle where I could hang the feeder and keep the squirrels out as described in another post. The beauty of poles is that you can place them thirty feet or more from a window for bird safety and as long as the pole has the right baffle and is positioned beyond squirrel jumping distance (eight to ten feet typically), you should be able to keep the squirrels off it. It won’t keep a Cooper’s Hawk or Sharp-Shined Hawk from grabbing a bird snack in a fly-by attack however.
Now that I have this feeder in the right location, it is great. I’ve got it filled with sunflower hearts, a popular seed with many birds (but without the mess of shells that you get with regular black oil sunflower seed.) Because it is an open style feeder and sunflower hearts turn to mush if they get wet, I try to only put out enough seed to last a little over a day, topping it off every morning as needed. I will also sometimes throw in a few peanuts in the shell for the Blue Jays or some extra Nyjer seed for the American Goldfinches when the Nyjer feeders are very busy with birds.
The large size will accommodate about a dozen American Goldfinches or eight House Finches or two Mourning Doves. It typically has a variety of bird species eating together at one time. As well as the Goldfinches and House Finches, it is also popular with Northern Cardinals, Tufted Titmice, Blue Jays, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Carolina Wrens, Pine Siskins and Carolina Chickadees. I’ve seen a Pine Warbler on it and the Red-Bellied Woodpeckers usually stop by at least once a day to hang off the side of it to eat a few bites.
This type of feeder is open to all of course, so depending on what you fill it with, you might also get Common Grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds and Brown-Headed Cowbirds. If a bird eats the type of seed you put in this feeder, it’ll probably be happy to eat it here. Even the Dark-Eyed Juncos, a bird that usually eats on the ground, will hop into this feeder every now and then for a bite.
The feeder is very easy maintenance. Not being particularly heavy, it is easy to take down if you need to clean out seed shells or seed that has gotten wet. Like all feeders, it should be cleaned every few weeks, but there really isn’t anything to take apart so it is super easy. In the summer, I clear out any old seed and hose it down. In the winter months, I take it inside to clean in the sink.
You can use a sponge or a soft brush to clean the perforated bottom. (I learned the hard way not to use the really stiff brushes made to clean out cement birdbaths for anything with a powder-coat of paint like the metal screen at the bottom of this feeder because it can scrub away the paint. I made that mistake with one of the Backyard Boys feeders. Ah-well. Live and learn. It really doesn’t need that kind of brush anyway.) If the seed has gotten moldy or you’ve seen sick birds in the feeder, you can wipe it down with a diluted nine-parts-water/one-part-bleach solution to kill off germs. Then rinse with water, dry, re-hang and fill.
And that is about it. If you need an easy to use feeder that the birds are bound to love, this is a good choice. Its open design has the advantage of less obstructions for viewing and taking pictures of the backyard birds. Just be aware that you’ll probably also want to purchase a weather guard and if you’ve got squirrels, hanging it on a baffled pole is probably your best choice.
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