Tray Feeders - Bird Feeding Station Element Number Two

12:00 AM

Tray feeders are popular year-round.
A tray feeder may very well be the most versatile and popular feeder in any backyard feeding station. In fact, they made number two on the list of the "12 Elements of a Thoughtful Bird Feeding Station" by Jim Carpenter in his book, "The Joy of Bird Feeding". (The first, Foundation Feeders, are discussed in my earlier blog post - Backyard Bird Feeding Setup - a How-to Guide).

While a Foundation Feeder will give you piece of mind knowing there is always food available for your birds, a Tray Feeder is where the action is! Having one will give you the best views of your birds when you sit down to watch their activity. There are no tubes or hoppers in the way to block your view, instead you get full access to everything your birds are up to while visiting your feeder. They're especially great for those who love to take photos of the birds at their feeders.
A White-breasted Nuthatch, Red-bellied Woodpecker and Northern Cardinal share the feeder.
For their part, birds seem to really enjoy tray feeders. There's a comfort factor for them in that they can easily keep an eye on the skies for predators, come and go in any direction, and interact with the other birds (both their own species and others in the local community). Larger birds, such as Grosbeaks, Cardinals, Doves and Jays, find it much more comfortable to eat at a tray feeder. Plus, everyone has an equal shot on a tray feeder, so social hierarchy comes into play as they squabble for the best sitting place, it's fascinating to watch!
An Eastern Bluebird and Black-capped Chickadees enjoy this hanging tray feeder.
There are so many different styles of tray (or platform) feeders, some have roofs to keep the seed dry in wet weather, some sit on the ground, some sit on a pole, and others still can hang from a hook. The foods you can offer are just as varied: snack foods, such as suet nuggets or mealworms; and whole peanuts are common options. You can also include your regular seed blend to bring in birds who may not be comfortable at another style feeder, but would happily partake from a tray.

Want to see one in action? Check out the Cornell Labs FeederWatch LiveCam below:


The fun of tray feeders is there is no right or wrong! But remember, the food will go faster than your foundation feeder, so be sure to give yourself some viewing time after filling the tray to enjoy the action afterwards!  Coming soon in my next post, we'll delve into Element 3 of a Thoughtful Bird Feeding Station - Fat Feeders.

Happy Birding!
~ Jen

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