Funky Bird Feeders

Jazzing up the humble bird feeder....

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

There is no greater charm than having birds fluttering in and around the garden. Not only do they play a vital part in our gardens’ ecosystems, but they lift our spirits. The variety and numbers we can attract is impressive, with the birds pictured in this feature, being just a small sample of those found in one (village) garden.

There are many feeders available on the market but too often they are rather unattractive devices, where function overtakes design. Granted, bird feeders are designed for birds not humans, but that shouldn’t mean that they can’t be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical.

Here’s a selection of some of the more unusual bird feeders that make us smile ‚Äď feeders that are suited to a small or large garden, the designer, the gardener, the younger generation, or simply anyone keen to attract more birds to their gardens, allotments or balconies…

Bird cafe feeder by Umbra

Undoubtedly ‘de Stijl’ influenced, this is guaranteed to cheer humans as well as this chaffinch…

Created by the industrial designers, Teddy Luong and Dennis Cheng for Umbra, the bird cafe is not only a fully functional bird feeder, but clearly has been designed with thought and sensitivity towards the materials and aesthetics.

The bird cafe feeder (17.8 x 17.8 x 20.3 cm) is made of snazzy moulded plastic, with an easily removable lid for top loading. The seed flows out of the bottom holes into the generously sized tray where the birds feed. There are holes at the bottom of the tray for water drainage.

Very popular with all manner of birds, especially tits, robins and this rather chuffed looking chaffinch….

The bird cafe feeder is available direct from those bright sparks at Umbra for £30.

Room with a view

Glass bird feeder by Eva Solo

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Slick Danish design by Eva Solo, a company with the ethos that even the smallest of things should be beautiful.

Made from mouth-blown glass, this elegant feeder was designed to withstand wind, weather and ‘beating wings’. Cunningly, this feeder is the easiest to suspend as the wire is not fixed, hence allowing for several heights & branch diameters, (an idea I hope other manufacturers will adopt). Tree branches are not the same size, standard hooks can therefore prove tricky to hang.

The feeder includes a neat drain hole for rainwater and, in winter, this prevents the feed from freezing. Filling it is a doddle and it can be used for a variety of feed types plus, when filled with seed, it does look rather attractive.Popular with most garden birds, especially tits and robins, the glass bird feeder is available direct from those very stylish people at Eva Solo for £40.

Note if one was thinking to purchase this or any of the Eva Solo bird feeders as a gift, they are all beautifully packaged….

RSPB advice

  • Choose feeders with drainage channels, edges or attachments for the birds to perch on.

Nyjer nirvana

Stake bird feeder by Crocus

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

I have a penchant for feeders on stakes. That sounds like a rather odd admission I realise. You see, I favour bringing that ornithological theatre right into the herbaceous borders and there is no easier way to do that than stick a bird feeder right in there.

Those bright sparks at Crocus have produced these snazzy stake feeders, and I have had one for a while. They are really good, easy to use, easy to clean and can take both water as well as food. That does mean that they do not have a drainage hole, so you may need to keep an eye on the food in wet weather.

The stake stands 1m high (floor to bowl) and the bowl (23cm diameter) is made from gloss powder coated cast aluminium.

Available in green, sky blue and white from those ever so clever people at Crocus.

RSPB advice

  • Most small birds need to drink at least twice a day, so do provide clean water where you can. Providing water provides just the same enjoyment as food!

Proper china

Birdball Seed Feeder available from Wiggly Wigglers

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Wedgewood would be proud. Designed by Green & Blue in Cornwall, this ceramic seed feeders is just charming.

Simple, stylish and sturdy, this feeder can be used to provide a variety of bird foods for all year-round. It’s relatively small (155mm in diameter), so easy to hang, refill and clean, is supplied with generous stainless steel wire for full hanging flexibility, and comes with a thoughtful tree protector.

Crucially, it didn’t take long for the birds such as tits, sparrows, finches, nuthatches and even a woodpecker to venture for a nibble. Naturally, the woodpecker didn’t pose for the photo….

The Birdball Seed Feeder is available from those delightful people at Wiggly Wigglers, in white, blue and lime for £40.

RSPB advice

  • Food shortages can occur at any time of the year, so the advice is to feed the birds all year round.

The Tardis

Police Box feeder by Homebase

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Charmingly whimsical, yet functional, Police Box feeder, aka., the Tardis will appeal to the ardent Dr Who fan and the household’s youngies.

The Police Box Feeder (23cm H x 16cm W x 16cm D), has a large platform allowing for good seed dispersion and easily accessible for birds. Easy to hang, refill and clean, this feeder is very practical and capable of holding a large quantity of seed, dry and protected from the elements. The seed will spill out onto the bottom tray which has small corner holes for drainage.

The Police Box Feeder (23cm H x 16cm W x 16cm D) is available from Homebase for £29.99.

Homebase advice

  • Choose open and safe area, above ground level for your bird feeder – around 2m from cover so that birds will feel safe to feed and not threatened by natural predators. Furthermore opt for a spot with a look out point for the birds to perch whilst ‘queuing’ for their turn, but also for the birds to determine if it is safe to feed.

Into the woods

Tree hanging bird feeder by Crocus

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Another nifty invention from team Crocus. The tree hanging bird feeder does exactly as it says on the tin, made to hang from trees…

Just like their stake bird feeders, these can also be used for providing water or food, but again that does mean no drainage holes – so keep an eye on bird food in wet weather. The bowl can easily be lifted out of the supporting ring for cleaning.

The birds loved them as they need not go far from their comfort zone to drink or feed. The powder coated bowl is 26cm in diameter, hangs from a cantilevered hanging frame, 29cm in height.

Available in green and sky blue from Crocus.

RSPB advice

  • Select feeders that are well made with no sharp edges that can cause harm to the birds.

Glass baubles

Mini glass bird feeders by Eva Solo

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Pictured here is a charming pair of glass bird feeders (11 x 12 cm) designed by the nifty Danish designers, Claus Jensen and Henrik Holb√¶k. Inspired by small weaver bird’s nests, these feeders are just lovely, yet practical and allow to view the birds feeding.

With nifty hanging fixtures, the glass feeders are easily suspended from a tree, bush or roof overhang and add a charming touch to the garden or the balcony. A small drainage hole ensures any rain water is quickly drained, and if in winter will prevent the seed from freezing.

The mini glass bird feeders are supplied as a set of two, and are available direct from Eva Solo.

Homebase advice

  • If you have a cat, consider attaching a bell to its collar to alert birds to its presence.

Perfectly oaked

Oak Hanging Seed Feeder by Wiggly Wigglers

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

More traditional in design, but superbly built (in UK) from quality oak which will age to a beautiful grey over time.

Really easy to fill and capable of holding approximately 1kg of birdseed, so you don’t need to refill often. The lift-up ridge cover stops water getting in at the top and ensures that seeds stay dry for longer. Front and back perching platforms allow several birds to feed at the same time, which I can report they certainly did.

The Oak Hanging feeder proved super popular for all manner of birds, such as tits, sparrows, finches, robins and especially nuthatches. The latter are always superbly generous, distributing rejected seeds on the ground below to the delight of black birds, wrens and dunnocks. With at least a kilo of seed available, that’s quite an extensive party…

This feeder comes in two sizes; small or large. The large, pictured – is quite the sizeable feeder measuring H28 x W20 x D22 cm. Made from solid oak, it’s obviously not the lightest of feeders so will need a sturdy branch to hang it from.

The Oak Hanging Seed Feeder is available from the lovely people at Wiggly Wigglers.

RSPB advice

  • Move bird feeders around the garden, to stop droppings accumulating below.

A bird on a bird

Fun Feeders by Chapelwood

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

A fun and colourful way to get children interested.¬†The birds and especially this adorable little blue tit certainly thought so, spending much time picking at his (or her??) new friend…

The ChapelWood Fun Feeders come in a variety of designs, ranging from birds (robin and goldfinch pictured), to butterflies and flowers. Ideal for sunflower seeds/hearts and peanuts, these metal feeders attracted numerous birds, especially tits, robins and those ever so cunning nuthatches. The ChapelWood bird Fun Feeders can hold up to 0.45kg of feed.

Easy to fill (by ruthlessly unscrewing the feeder’s heads) and secure with a bolt to ensure it remains closed. A threaded base means one can alternatively fix¬†the feeder to the 1.2m ‘Fun Flower Stick‘, to place in the ground.

The Chapelwood Fun Feeders are available from a wide variety of suppliers. For more details of retailers in your area, or online, we refer you to the Chapelwood stockist finder.

Homebase advice

  • Provide food regularly. ‘Your’ birds may come to depend on your generosity and may suffer if this is only intermittent.

The Banquet table

Bird table by Eva Solo

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

If feeders were up for Michelin stars, this one would bag the lot. The bird table by Eva Solo is the largest trialled, with the mouth blown glass dispenser having a whopping five litre capacity. Brilliant to taunt the pigeons around the garden, who are just too large to land on the platform, but can see all that lovely seed….

The bird table, designed by two award-winning designers, Claus Jensen and Henrik Holb√¶k,¬†stands tall at 170cm on a stainless steel stand, with strong synthetic platform. The glass dome keeps the seed beautifully dry, and with such a large capacity one need not refill often. Standing as massive billboard advertising for tasty seed though, it proved supremely popular with all manner of birds, and that seed level dropped steadily….

To make things even easier those clever designers at Eva Solo have ensured me that the glass dome and synthetic base are dishwasher proof.

The bird table is available from the Danish bright sparks at Eva Solo for £130.

RSPB advice

  • Ideally feeders should be large enough to accommodate several birds – to prevent fighting, or provide a few different ones around the garden.

Drinkies

Pebble bird bath by Crocus

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Where food is offered, ideally water should be provided too. According to the RSPB, most small garden birds need to drink at least twice a day to replace the water lost through transpiration and droppings. Especially so for seed-eating birds, which due to their dry diet need to drink more than their insect-eating counterparts.

Many of the bird feeders featured here, double up as water baths which is useful. Unless you have one of those, or a luscious stream flowing through your garden, a pond, or some other kind of water provision for birds, fear not as there are some nice options available out there.

Pebble bird bath

Inspired by natural streams laced with rocks and pebbles for birds to perch on, the Pebble bird bath by Crocus proved very popular with our garden birdies. If they weren’t drinking, they were dive bombing in it!¬†Made from¬†cast Aluminium, the bath (25cm diameter) is coated with a textured matt charcoal layer and sealed with a clear matt lacquer. The pebble is carved from white granite stone.

The pebble bird bath is available from Crocus for £29.99.

RSPB advice

  • Supplementary feeding can’t provide all the natural proteins and vitamins needer for adult or young birds, so it’s important to create and manage your garden to provide a source of natural foods as well, through well-managed lawns, shrub and flowerbeds.

Stainless steel dining terrace

Fuera Bird Feeder by Blomus

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Another slick stainless steel bird feeder by the german design company, Blomus. The Fuera bird feeder proved not only superbly popular for all manner of birds, but is very practical and looks great – befitting any stylish garden.

Cunningly, this bird feeder has a dual purpose in that it doubles up as a covered bird feeder as pictured with the stainless steel lid, or open bird bath/feeder. One can simply remove the stainless steel lid and (replace with provided parts to fit) on the wooden base.

Blomus pride themselves on combining functional simplicity, design and elegant materials to create a quality product. This feeder, designed Susanne Augenstein is certainly evidence of that.

The Fuera bird feeder has a 25cm diameter, and stands tall at 131cm on a sturdy wooden stake with pointed end. The stake is about as chunky as a broom handle so does need some extra effort to secure in the ground, but once in it stands firm.

The Blomus Fuera Bird Feeder is available from the Outdoor Chic for £110.

Homebase advice

  • Birds will quickly get used to feeding routines and will visit your garden accordingly. In severe weather, feed birds twice a day if you can; early morning and early afternoon.

The big apple

Terracotta Hanging Apple Bird Feeder by Heritage Gardens

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Handmade in the UK by Weston Mill Pottery, this lovely terracotta bird feeder can accommodate a variety of bird food types, including – oh yes, chopped up apples…

Three large holes in the side of the feeder provide easy access for the birdies, and a canny drainage hole in the base prevents water logging. Supplied with a strong hanging cord, the feeder can easily be hung and proved immediately popular with numerous birds, including robins, nuthatches and tits.

The Terracotta Hanging Apple bird feeder is available from the good people at Heritage Gardens for £19.

RSPB advice

  • Avoid using peanuts and bread in spring/summer, since these can be harmful if adult birds feed them to their nestlings. If you feel you must put out peanuts, only do so in suitable mesh feeders that will not allow sizeable pieces of peanuts to be removed and provide a choking risk.

The cube

Terracotta Hanging Apple Bird Feeder by Heritage Gardens

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

The cube, designed by the clever people at Flock Follies. Very much tweeting our tune, the company director Jane Tarasun said, ‘Birds are as discerning as humans when it comes to food quality, so why neglect the venue?’. The result is this tried and testy, funky little bird bistro. The bespoke design ensures small birds are spared ‘big bird’ bullying by limiting their access, provides four perches, and allows for all manner of bird food types. Filling is a doddle, and food is kept dry in all weathers.

The cube feeder arrives beautifully packaged, flat packed. Fear not, it was very easy to assemble as even I managed to put it together. An exercise I am sure would be of much pleasure to the younger generation (I can now say that as I hurtle towards the big four-oh).

Made from 98% recyclable materials, the cube is a strong, durable product. Easy to use, easy to clean and most importantly the birds LOVE it. Initial scepticism as to birds favouring to ‘enter’ a bird feeder were quickly squashed. They keep coming back (in) for more, including the more discerning of visitors such as this lovely green finch. Regular visitors include nuthatches, robins, tits and chaffinches. According to team Flock Follies, a squirrel has yet to manage to break & enter one of these feeders…..

The Flock Follies bird feeder comes in four funky colours, and is available mainly through the Flock Follies website.

RSPB advice

  • Keep the feeders clean. Use a mild disinfectant solution every two weeks, and don’t allow old bird food to accumulate.

Silvery moon

Nido Half Moon bird feeder by Blomus

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

A lovely stake bird feeder, made from super slick, weather-resistant, solid, stainless steel with a satin finish. Beat that.

Designed by Susanne Augenstein for Blomus, this snazzy stake feeder would suit even the most contemporary of gardens, or even balcony Рas the half-moon shaped feeder can also be hung from a ceiling. Blomus are a German company that specialise in contemporary stainless steel products for home & outdoor, manufactured under the strict German designer guidelines. Fear not therefore, as this little number stands straight and proud.

The Nido Half Moon feeder is a good size, standing about 148cm tall, with the crescent 13cm in diameter. Fat balls are easily hung from the fast fit hook. On that note, I do apologise for the Heath Robinson-esque fat ball wiring. The fat balls purchased for trialling the feeders had no net or hook, so a little garden wire had to be used instead…

This lovely feeder proved to be THE destination caff, for blue tits and long tailed tits whom could feed freely without interference from their bigger cousins. Big klutzy feet just can’t perch on it.

The Blomus Nido Half Moon feeder is available from Black by Design for £38.

Homebase advice

  • By providing a variety of feeding sites, you can attract a wider range of birds into your garden. Some birds forage in the trees but blackbirds, thrushes, wrens and robins are ground feeders. You can scatter bird food on your patio/lawn but spread it out to reduce competition.

That old coconut....

Coconut Fat Feeders - widely available

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Not quite contemporary design, nor innovative to say the least I realise, but I have always liked this type of feeder. They are easy to put up, and despite their tropical background they tend to ‘blend’ into the garden.

These type of coconut feeders are generally filled with assorted seeds set in suet fat, providing a high energy source of food to birds. The most ardent fans of these feeders, are the most charming of birds, the long tailed tits who sampled multiple times, daily. Other fans included the tits, robins, wrens and dunnocks.

They clean them out rather rapidly, so a do make sure you have quite some stock!

Available from most retail outlets;

Homebase advice

  • Birds need high energy (high fat) foods during cold winter weather to maintain their fat reserves and survive the frosty nights. Make sure you use only good quality food, and be aware that smaller birds will struggle to eat seed mixtures containing split peas, beans, dried rice or lentils ‚Äď these are only really suitable for larger species.

Quintessentially British

Telephone Box Feeder by Homebase

Words & Pictures: Petra Hoyer Millar

In association with: Homebase

Just like its cousin; the Tardis, this quirky feeder by Homebase made us smile, and will certainly appeal to the household’s youngsters.

A good size ((H)28, (W)19.5, (D)19.5cm), this bright and cheerful feeder is practical, boasting a large perching platform and capable of holding a large quantity of seed, dry and protected from the elements. The seed will spill out onto the bottom tray which has small corner holes for drainage.The top lifts easily, making refilling and cleaning easy.

Hand-crafted from kiln-dried plyboard and finished with a non-toxic paint, the Telephone Box Feeder bird feeder will fade naturally when exposed to the elements.

The Telephone Box Feeder is available from Homebase for £29.99.

Homebase advice

  • It can take a few days for birds to discover the food and to convince themselves that it is a safe place to feed. Once they have, they will visit regularly if you keep it filled, clean and tidy.