I’ve bought several bird feeders in the past several months. One of the more interesting is the Squirrel Buster Classic. I’d seen this feeder in stores before but always thought that its sister, the Squirrel Buster Plus, was a newer, better, bigger feeder and so never gave this one much thought. But this spring I took another look at it and have been using one in my yard for over a month. I’ve found that I really like it and so do the birds! Here is my review of this feeder.
Squirrel Buster Classic vs Squirrel Buster Plus
The Squirrel Buster Classic is a weight activated tube feeder like the Squirrel Buster Plus. The Classic holds 1 ½ quarts/2.4 lbs of seed where the Plus can hold 3 quarts/5.1 lbs. Their respective measurements are 5.3” x 5.3” x 20.625” vs 6.5” x 6.5” x 23.75”. So basically the Plus itself is about twice as big, although the Classic has a very long hanger that means you need to allow for just a little more hanging room. Both have weight activated shrouds that come down to cover and block the access ports if a squirrel should get on it
But there are some interesting differences. The Plus is all smooth surfaces – plastic and metal. To use it, birds land on one of six perches and/or on the optional cardinal ring that can be added to join the perches into a spoke-like wheel.
The Classic is metal and plastic too but the seed tube is covered with a metal mesh shroud.
On this one, it is this mesh shroud that comes down to cover the ports (which are openings in the mesh) if a squirrel lands on it. (The above two pictures show a port open and then closed.)
Clinging Birds on the Feeder
But the mesh has a secondary purpose. Clinging birds can land almost anywhere on the feeder to either eat or wait their turn to eat. This can be especially appealing to birds like American Goldfinches who are very acrobatic and White-Breasted Nuthatches who love to approach the ports upside-down, something they can’t do on the smooth surfaced Plus.
Woodpeckers should be able to use this one too but I haven’t seen one on it yet. (The woodpeckers in my yard are most interested in suet and peanuts but will occasionally snag a sunflower seed or two.) Update: Today I saw a Red-Bellied Woodpecker clinging to this feeder to eat sunflower hearts.
The Classic has four ports with U-shaped metal perches that clip over the mesh. The perches can be easily removed by opening up the clip just a bit with a flat screwdriver and sliding the perch off. This creates an interesting dynamic on the feeder.
Without the perches, some of the bigger birds that can sometimes be a problem dominating feeders have less of an advantage. Birds like Common Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds and European Starlings can grab hold of the mesh and cling a little bit to grab some seed but they are not as comfortable doing it as the smaller clinging birds who seem quite content to hang around on the mesh. So these larger birds generally spend less time on it than they would on a feeder with perches.
Also without the perches, there is less tendency for even the smaller birds to settle in and try to keep a perch occupied for long periods. Because there are often smaller birds climbing all over it and reaching in to grab a seed from different angles, there seems to be more movement and turnover. Interestingly, there seems to be less bickering, even among the notoriously bickering House Finches, probably because they are positioned to hang on rather than sitting on perches next to each other where they can give each other a hard time without losing their spot.
Keeping Squirrels Off
The Classic’s weight mechanism is not adjustable the way that it is on the Plus, so you can’t try to adjust it to keep larger birds off of the feeder. This one’s weight activation is just intended for keeping squirrels out and maybe something really large like a pigeon. But I haven’t found this to be an issue. While the Squirrel Buster line of feeders work wonderfully for keeping squirrels out, I’ve honestly had less success with trying to use the Plus’ or Standard’s weight activation to keep larger birds out. So in a weird way, not having the option on this one simplifies things for me.
I have this feeder hanging from a pole in the middle of my back yard. There is a Erva barrel type squirrel baffle on the pole itself and I have an Erva extra large disk baffle over it (which is overkill for a Squirrel Buster feeder but I lock squirrels out of my feeders with a vengeance!) So there has not been a squirrel actually on this feeder in my yard, but since it works the same way as the Plus which I have seen work, I’m confident that if one did somehow manage it, they wouldn’t be able to get in.
It’s important that you follow the feeder placement guidelines though. Because it is activated by the squirrel’s weight, you need to allow 18” clearance all the way around the feeder so that a squirrel can’t reach from something else to get into the feeder without putting their weight on it.
Hanging, Feeding & Filling
This feeder does have a very long 12″ hanging wire though. I had to get an extension for my Erva dual shepherd’s hook pole to allow enough room for the feeder to hang and still be above the pole’s squirrel baffle. (So keep the extra measurement in mind when you plan where to put this one.)
The feeder is easy to fill and hang. It only has the four ports but they are all toward the lower half of the feeder so I don’t have to top it off every day the way I do with tube feeders that include ports near the top of the tube.
To open it, you press down and turn the top, just like you might do on a medicine bottle. Then you lift the lid off and to the side. It remains attached to the interior center post by the hanging wire. To fill it, you pour seed into the clear seed tube until it reaches the bottom of the yellow center post cap. If you overfill it, the excess seed will leak out. Then to close it, reverse the process, pushing down and turning the top into place. Then re-hang it.
The feeder comes with directions for taking it apart for cleaning. Brome recommends a solution of dish detergent and water followed by a rinse of a 20% solution of water and white vinegar. They don’t recommend using a dish washer. It’s not hard to take apart and that makes it easy to clean, but hang onto the directions so you’ll have them when needed. If you misplace them though, Brome’s website offers the text directions as well as a video to walk you through it.
Brome’s tube feeders are designed with a ventilation system to allow fresh air to enter the bottom of the feeder, rise up and out of water-proof vents at the top. This keeps the food fresh. This feeder has been out through several blowing rain storms and I’ve had no problem with any clumping or molding seed, something that can sometimes be a problem with tube feeders.
Birds Using This Feeder
This feeder became instantly popular in my yard. If I put safflower in it, it is mostly dominated by House Finches. But if I fill it with sunflower hearts, lots of birds will visit the feeder. So far I’ve had the House Finches, Purple Finches, American Goldfinches, White-Breasted Nuthatches, Pine Warblers and even a few Chipping Sparrows. Larger birds on it include Blue Jays, Red-Winged Blackbirds, Common Grackles and European Starlings, although since I took the perches off, they don’t stick around long to dominate the feeder.
Even when I had the perches in, the Northern Cardinals weren’t on this one, but in my yard they strongly prefer the platform feeders, the hoppers or eating on the ground, so it isn’t surprising.
I really like this feeder. When filled with sunflower hearts, it is one of the most popular feeders in the yard. Even though they have to share it with other birds, small birds like finches seem to prefer it over the cage feeders that they have all to themselves. If you’ve looked at the Squirrel Buster Plus and thought it was more expensive than you’d like, give a look at this one that runs about half as much. It’s a solid feeder that should do well for you.
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