Bird feeders for large birds

Top 4 Tips For Choosing Bird Feeders For Large Birds

Last Updated: June 7, 2023By

You love watching the birds flock to your yard, but those tiny feeders you have now just aren’t cutting it anymore. If you want to attract some larger feathered friends, it’s time to get serious about your bird feeding station.

Choosing the right feeders for bigger birds like cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers takes some know-how.

You need a feeder that’s sturdy, spacious, and suited to their dietary needs. The good news is with some expert tips, you’ll be hosting a party for some VIBs (very important birds) in no time.

Here are the key takeaways for selecting bird feeders for large birds.

Key Takeaways

To attract a variety of large birds to your yard, choose a feeder specifically designed for bigger birds. Look for:

  • A large, sturdy base for stability. Larger birds need a steady platform to perch on.
  • Wide openings and perches. Big birds have big wingspans and feet, so they need more space.
  • Durable, chew-proof construction. Powerful beaks can destroy flimsier feeders. Metal mesh or wood are good options.
  • Multiple feeding ports. Several birds can feed at once, reducing competition and aggression.
  • Adequate seed capacity. Big birds have big appetites, so get a feeder that holds at least 2-3 pounds of seed.

Providing the right feeder for the job, filled with high-energy seeds like black oil sunflower, safflower or peanuts, will make your yard a popular spot for crows, jays, cardinals, woodpeckers and other large feathered visitors. With the proper set-up, you’ll be hosting a big bird buffet in no time!


If you want to attract some big birds to your yard, you’ll need a feeder that can accommodate them. When choosing a feeder for larger birds like cardinals, blue jays or even woodpeckers, there are a few things to consider:

Look for a feeder with a wide, sturdy base. Larger birds need a stable platform to perch on, so a feeder that’s top heavy or has a small base won’t cut it. A tube feeder, hopper feeder or platform feeder with a wide, sturdy base is best.

Get a feeder that holds at least 2-3 pounds of seed. Big birds have big appetites, so a small feeder will require constant refilling. Look for a large capacity feeder that can hold several pounds of seed.

Use a feeder with mesh or wire mesh. Larger wire mesh or mesh tubes and trays prevent larger birds from spilling and wasting too much seed. Tight mesh also deters squirrels and larger pests.

Place the feeder at least 5-6 feet high. Mounting a large bird feeder higher up, at least 5 to 6 feet, will prevent larger birds from knocking it over and deter some predators.

With the right type of feeder placed at a proper height, you’ll be able to attract beautiful larger birds to your yard in no time. Happy bird watching!

Types of Bird Feeders for Large Birds

When it comes to feeding large birds, you’ll want a feeder that can hold a decent amount of seed and withstand the weight of bigger birds. Here are some of your best options:

  • Tray or platform feeders are great for larger birds since they offer plenty of space to land and feed. Look for ones with mesh or screen bottoms so the seed doesn’t get soggy. These feeders can hold 3-5 pounds of seed, perfect for a flock of big birds.
  • Hopper or “House” feeders protect the seed from weather while giving birds access from multiple sides. Their large capacity, up to 10 pounds of seed, means less frequent refills. Hopper feeders with weight-activated perches are ideal for bigger birds.
  • Tube feeders hold a lot of seed and the mesh or screen material allows birds to feed from all sides. However, the openings and perches may be too small for some large birds. Look for tube feeders specifically designed for bigger birds that can hold at least 2-3 pounds of seed.

With the right type of feeder, you’ll be able to attract beautiful larger birds to your yard. So do some research to find a feeder that suits the specific birds you want to see and has the capacity to keep them coming back.

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10 Different Types Of Bird Feeders – Ultimate Selection Guide For Your Backyard

Tips for Choosing the Best Big Bird Feeders for Large Birds

Size Matters

When choosing a bird feeder for larger birds, size is key. Look for a feeder with a wide, sturdy base and openings big enough for the birds to access the seed. Platform and hopper feeders typically work well for bigger birds. Avoid tube feeders with small perches and openings, as larger birds may have trouble balancing and accessing the seed.

Durable and Weather-Resistant

Large birds can do some damage, so choose a feeder made of durable, weather-resistant materials like metal, polycarbonate or high-density polyethylene (HDPE) plastic. These materials hold up well to repeated use and exposure to elements like rain, snow and sun. Wood and thin plastic may not last as long. Metal mesh or wire feeders also work great for many bigger birds.

Multiple Perches

Having multiple perches at different levels gives more birds the chance to feed at once. This is especially useful for larger flocking birds like grackles, blackbirds, doves and pigeons. Platform and hopper feeders typically offer more perching space, while tube feeders may only have room for one or two bigger birds at a time.

Easy to Fill and Clean

For any bird feeder, choose one that is easy to fill, empty and clean. Larger feeders for bigger birds will need to be refilled more often, so look for a model with a wide opening that allows you to pour seed in easily. It should also have a removable tray or bottom for quick cleaning. This will make maintaining the feeder less of a chore and ensure fresh, clean seed for your feathered visitors.

Size Matters: Choose a Feeder Big Enough for Large Birds

When picking a bird feeder for bigger birds like cardinals, blue jays or woodpeckers, size is key. A feeder that’s too small won’t accommodate these larger species and they won’t be able to access the seed.

Look for a feeder with:

  • A wide, sturdy base for stability. Large birds landing on and moving around the feeder can cause smaller models to tip over.
  • Extra-large perches, platforms and feeding ports. Big birds need ample space to land, move around and access the seed. Perches at least 1 to 1.5 inches in diameter are good for most large species.
  • A large seed capacity. A bigger feeder means you’ll have to refill it less often. Look for a model that holds at least 2 to 3 pounds of seed.
  • Durable, chew-proof construction. Some large birds may chew on feeder parts, so choose a model made of tough materials like polycarbonate plastic, powder-coated metal or cedar.
  • Mesh or screen bottoms. These allow for drainage and ventilation to keep seed fresh, while still containing it within the feeder. Solid bottoms can lead to moldy, spoiled seed that birds won’t eat.

Choosing a feeder specifically geared toward larger birds will make your yard more inviting and help ensure these spectacular species become regular visitors. With the right feeder, you’ll be enjoying the sight of cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers and more in no time!

Durable Construction: Look for Sturdy, Weather-Resistant Materials

When choosing a bird feeder for larger birds, durability is key. Look for feeders made of sturdy, weather-resistant materials like:

  • Metal: Feeders made of metal, such as steel or aluminum, can withstand the weight and feeding habits of bigger birds. Metal also holds up well in various weather conditions.
  • Thick plastic: Heavy-duty plastics, like polycarbonate or polyethylene, are impact-resistant and last a long time. Look for plastics at least 1/4-inch thick.
  • Wood: Cedar, redwood, and cypress are naturally weather-resistant woods suitable for large bird feeders. Wood feeders should have a protective sealant to prevent rotting and warping.

Avoid thin, flimsy materials that can easily break or deteriorate. Large birds have powerful beaks and claws, so they need a feeder that can withstand their strength and activity. Durable feeders also tend to last longer, so you won’t have to replace them as often.

When possible, look for feeders with metal mesh or wire bottoms, tops, and feeding ports. These areas typically experience the most damage, so metal mesh helps prevent larger birds from chewing through the feeder. Mesh or wire also allows for better drainage and airflow, which deters the growth of bacteria and mold in the feeder.

With the proper durable and weather-resistant materials, a quality large bird feeder can provide years of bird watching enjoyment. Their sturdy construction gives bigger birds a stable place to perch and feed, while standing up to the elements and natural wear and tear.

Multiple Feeding Ports: More Birds Can Feed at Once

With several feeding ports, larger birds like cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers can all feed at the same time. Multiple feeding spots prevent overcrowding and reduce aggression or competition for food. Several birds will be able to perch and dine together without hassle.

Look for a bird feeder with at least 4-6 feeding ports for the best results. Tube feeders, platform feeders, and hopper feeders are all great options with multiple access points. Tube feeders provide perches so several birds can feed at once. Platform and hopper feeders have open areas for birds to stand and eat.

Having a variety of feeding ports at different levels will attract the greatest diversity of birds. Some ports higher up, some at middle levels and some closer to the ground. This way, birds of all sizes like chickadees, nuthatches, titmice and more can comfortably feed together.

With a well-designed feeder and the right type of birdseed, you’ll have a feathered frenzy of activity and be able to enjoy watching multiple large birds feed at the same time. The more the merrier!

Squirrel-Proof: Keep Unwanted Visitors Out of the Feed

To keep squirrels and other unwanted visitors out of your bird feeders, choose a feeder specifically designed to be squirrel-resistant. These feeders have features like:

  • Weight-activated perches that close access to the seed ports when squirrels climb on. Their heavier weight triggers the closing mechanism.
  • Cages around the feeder that allow small birds to pass through but block larger squirrels.
  • Spinners and poles with baffles that make it difficult for squirrels to climb. The spinning and tilting action foils their attempts to access the feeder.
  • Smaller seed ports and openings that don’t allow squirrels to reach in and grab large amounts of seed. Their paws can’t fit through the smaller holes.

Using a pole system to hang your feeders at least 5 to 6 feet high and 8 to 10 feet away from trees, fences, and other structures will also help.

The greater distance and height make it much harder for squirrels to jump onto and access the feeders. With the right combination of squirrel-proof feeder features and proper pole placement, you can attract your favorite large birds while giving squirrels the slip.

Look for Easy-to-Clean Designs

When choosing a bird feeder for larger birds, look for designs that are easy to clean. Larger birds mean larger droppings, and you’ll want a feeder that allows you to easily remove old seed and wipe away mess.

Look for removable components

Seek out feeders with removable parts like trays, ports, and bases that lift out for cleaning. Feeders with mesh or screen bottoms are ideal since droppings and debris will fall through, keeping the feeding area tidy.

Feeders that come apart completely, with removable tops, bottoms, and feeding tubes will make deep cleaning a breeze.

Some recommended easy-to-clean styles for big birds include:

  • Hopper feeders with removable seed trays to catch dropped seed and waste
  • Platform feeders with mesh bottoms so droppings fall through
  • Tube feeders that come apart for thorough cleaning of all components

Keeping your feeders clean will make your yard more attractive to large birds and ensure healthy feeding conditions. Take the time to properly clean your feeders at least once a month, or more often if needed. Your feathered friends will thank you!

Recommended Bird Feeders for Large Birds

Platform Feeders

Platform feeders, like hopper feeders without the hopper, are great for larger birds. They provide an open space for birds to perch and feed.

Look for a platform at least 15 inches in diameter and preferably larger, with a mesh or screen bottom so smaller debris falls through. Platform feeders attract cardinals, blue jays, grackles and starlings.

Hopper Feeders

Hopper feeders are ideal for big birds. They have a large seed reservoir and wide perches, allowing several birds to feed at once. Look for a hopper that holds at least 5-10 pounds of seed and has sturdy, spacious perches.

Hopper feeders attract the same birds as platform feeders, especially if you offer sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn and safflower seeds which larger birds prefer.

Hopper and platform feeders provide plenty of space for bigger birds to perch and feed comfortably. By choosing a feeder specifically geared toward larger birds and filling it with their favorite foods, you’ll attract vibrant cardinals, boisterous blue jays, and other big beautiful birds to your yard.

FAQ: Best Bird Feeders for Large Birds

What size feeder is best for large birds?

For bigger birds like cardinals, blue jays, and woodpeckers, choose an extra-large feeder with wide perches and openings. Platform and hopper feeders typically work well for larger species. Look for a feeder that is at least 20 inches in diameter and can hold 5-10 pounds of seed. The larger the feeder, the more birds it can accommodate at once.

Where should I place the feeder?

Position the feeder at least 5-6 feet high, out of reach of squirrels and cats. Large birds prefer to feed higher up. Place the feeder near natural shelter like trees or bushes where birds can escape predators. Avoid highly trafficked areas. The ideal spot is within view of a window so you can enjoy watching the birds up close.

What type of food do big birds prefer?

Fill your extra-large feeder with birdseed that appeals to bigger birds like:

  • Black oil sunflower seeds: A favorite of many songbirds and woodpeckers. High in fat and protein.
  • Safflower seeds: Cardinals, grosbeaks and some woodpeckers enjoy these nutritious seeds. Squirrels tend to avoid them.
  • Peanuts: Blue jays, woodpeckers and some sparrows go nuts for peanuts! Offer shelled peanuts in a mesh bag feeder.
  • Suet cakes: Woodpeckers, nuthatches and chickadees devour suet cakes made of animal fat and seed. Suet cakes provide essential energy in winter.

Following these tips will help you choose a bird feeder and seed that large, striking birds will flock to. Sit back and enjoy the show!


So there you have it, everything you need to know to pick out the perfect bird feeders for those big, beautiful birds in your yard. Remember, bigger is better when it comes to feeder size and seed capacity for larger birds.

Look for sturdy, durable feeders that can stand up to repeated use and the occasional rough landing. Platform and hopper feeders are ideal, giving the birds plenty of space to land and feed comfortably.

And don’t forget to choose high-energy, high-protein seeds and nuts to keep your feathered friends well-fed and coming back for more.

With the right feeder setup, you’ll be enjoying the sight of cardinals, blue jays, woodpeckers and more in no time. Happy bird watching!

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