SEED TUBE BIRD FEEDERS
The second bird feeder in Wild Bird Habitat Store’s “7 Basic Backyard Bird Feeders” series is the seed tube bird feeder. A seed tube bird feeder is just that – it is a tube with seed ports and perches where the birds sit to access the wild bird feed. This is probably one of the most popular bird feeders as it is easy to hang, fill and comes in a variety of designs. The seed tube bird feeder is considered an exclusive bird feeder as it primarily targets smaller birds generally excluding larger birds.
Economy lines of seed tube bird feeders are made from inexpensive acrylic plastic. Acrylic plastic becomes brittle in frigid temperatures and easily cracks. In the hot sun the tube will break down turning yellow and becoming brittle.
Higher quality seed tube bird feeders are made from poly-carbonate plastics which are UV stabilized. They won’t yellow or become brittle from sun exposure. They are not affected by cold temperatures. Seed tube bird feeders with poly-carbonate tubes by Droll Yankees or Aspects, have a lifetime warranty against cracking. If the tube cracks, or a squirrel damages it, the manufacturer will replace the tube at no cost.
The tube, or cylinder, of the feeder may be constructed from a wire mesh with no ports or perches. Only clinging birds can grasp the mesh and extract the seed from it.
Some seed tube bird feeders have tubes made from ¼” PVC which is extremely durable or steel which is indestructible. One thing to keep in mind – if you purchase any bird feeder manufactured in the U.S. parts are readily available. If they come from China parts can be difficult to come by.
Seed tube bird feeders come in a variety of designs, some with additional features. They may be squirrel proof where the weight of the squirrel closes the ports to block access to the bird seed. Some tube feeders have a cage to protect the bird seed from squirrels, blackbirds and Starlings. This style of seed tube bird feeder is strictly for smaller birds and all woodpeckers. Woodpeckers have a tongue 4” to 7” long that’s barbed on the end and can extract hulled sunflower seed from caged feeders
NOTE: Caged seed tube bird feeders deter all large birds which does include the Northern Cardinal. But caged seed tube bird feeders make a great haven for smaller birds and are very accessible for woodpeckers that can reach in or use their long tongue to extract seeds.
If you want to attract cardinals to a seed tube bird feeder you’ll need to attach a tray to the bottom of the feeder allowing cardinals to perch and access seed from the bottom ports. The Northern Cardinal will not stand on a pegged perch to feed. Some manufacturers have special cardinal perches or rings that can be added to the tube feeder. Others have U-shaped perches at the ports to allow cardinals to perch and feed.
Remember birds that feed on elevated bird feeders are after the nut meats so you want to fill a seed tube bird feeder with black oil sunflower seed, hulled sunflower seeds, safflower seed (either NutrSaff safflower or traditional white safflower) or a specialty nut mix blend with a combination of these seeds. Avoid filling a seed tube bird feeder with a general wild bird mix. Birds will just pick through the white Proso millet trying to extract those higher protein seeds.
What birds can you expect to attract? You’ll marvel at the Chickadees coming to a tube feeder along with the White and the Red-breasted Nuthatches. House Finch will be a favorite mixed with Goldfinches who enjoy hulled sunflower seed or NutrSaff safflower seed. Carolina Wrens. Winter brings irruptive bird species from the north such as Pine Siskin, Red Crossbills, Purple Finch, Common Redpolls and others. You just never know who the next diner at your seed tube feeder might be.
If squirrels are a problem consider properly locating your bird feeder and installing a functional squirrel baffle. For a tube feeder hanging in a tree the best squirrel baffle to use is the Arundale Hanging Squirrel Baffle. Made in the U.S. and warrantied for life. If the tube feeder is on a shepherds hook try one of our pole mounted squirrel baffles. The baffle will pay for itself in the amount of wild bird feed you save from the squirrels and possible prevent a destroyed bird feeder.
If you are unable to keep the squirrels off the feeder we highly recommend NutraSaff safflower seed which attracts a large variety of birds including Goldfinches. You can also use white safflower seed as 99% of squirrels will ignore either safflower seed.
If you follow the Wild Bird Habitat Store’s advice on the uses of seed tube bird feeders and the preferred wild bird feed to use I guarantee you will see more bird species and more activity these feeders.
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