Best Bird Feeders Ever... So Far

Best Bird Feeders Ever... So Far

Top portion of assembly removed for filling.

It has been a long search. I do feed the birds. And I do feed my silly squirrels.  But I'm not so fond of feeding starlings, given their invasive status. And I don't want to feed the squirrels all the expensive, "no-waste" seed.

So I've been trying different solutions. And we have a winner!

Many of you have probably already tried the "Squirrel Buster" feeders from Brome. If you haven't, then you are about to get the FULL SCOOP.

I started with the Squirrel Buster Mini, which had the lowest fiscal commitment. I wanted something to put a no-waste feed mix into. I wanted it to be easy to fill. I wanted it to NOT feed my squirrels. And I wanted it to be easy to clean. So imagine my delight when I opened the box and realized I would never need to take a tool to my bird feeder before cleaning it, again!

Hooking back into the center post.

This first image is the Squirrel Buster Mini. In the photo are three pieces: the top "cage" assembly (which Brome calls the "shroud"), the inner "containment" assembly, and the hooking/hanging apparatus. Unhook, slide off top assembly, clean/fill inner assembly. Reverse and hang. So how does it work?

The inner assembly contains the seed chamber and tray. This chamber surrounds an encased spring which is weight activated. It is tied, literally, to the hook from which you hang the feeder. Your average bird fails to compress the spring with its weight. In fact, four of your average birds will fail to compress the spring far enough to carry the outside assembly down. When the outside assembly IS carrying enough weight (say, a SQUIRREL, or maybe a few starlings), it slides down, covering access to the tray of the inner assembly. [See the third photo, where I am pulling down on the perch end of the outer assembly. The food tray has "risen" beyond where larger beaks and furry feet can reach it.]

The aluminum seed tray can't be reached.

Just imagine how frustrating this would be.

Somehow, I'm only a little sorry. My Brome Mini is specializing in delivering seed to goldfinches, currently. There are only four ports, which they tend to occupy two at a time. Not hungry enough yet to get cozy, I guess.

A feature that you do not see in these photos is the ventilation. Even though the inner assembly is protected from rain, holes in the seed tray keep air moving within the system. I have had no clumped seed spoiled by moisture. I am shocked. Shocked, I tell you! I haven't yet tried it with thistle/nyjer seed, but with shelled sunflower seeds and broken, shelled peanuts it has excelled.

Seriously, you need one of these.

The Mini was not my first success, but it is by far the most effective. The perches are too small for starlings to be comfortable in their grazing attempts. So right now, it is the titmice, chickadees and goldfinches using this feeder, along with the occasional wren.

My initial "success" was not a Brome product. I purchased it through Duncraft. I wanted a suet feeder that the starlings didn't clean out in a day. I had tried a few others--the upside-down thing, a standard basket with a baffle--to no avail. The one thing I liked about using a baffle was that it kept the suet in the shade and out of the rain. So when I went hunting with more intention, it was a little easier to find what I hoped to be a "final" suet solution.

What I found is billed as a "squirrel-proof double suet feeder." This feeder is currently being used regularly by a pair of downy woodpeckers and a pair of Carolina wrens. The chickadees will also make use of this protective feeder. It holds two standard suet cakes, which I leave in their plastic trays. As you can see, it has a roof and a cage around the whole cake assembly. Squirrels have been unsuccessful in their pursuit of fatty goodness, despite the fact that this hangs off a very sound post which they have no difficulty in climbing.

Other woodpeckers, such as the red-bellied, will cling to the cage and reach in for the suet. The distance of the cage from the center assembly means that the larger birds have to settle for the edges of the suet cakes, since they are unable to reach the middle. You can see how that plays out in the picture at left.

Yes, the starlings do attempt and do succeed at reaching these edges, as well. When a great horde comes through they will inevitably find this feeder and have a go at it.

This feeder is more difficult to clean. It really takes a vat of hot soapy water to immerse the whole thing into (the roof comes right off, that is not the problem) so that you can use a bottle brush or some such to remove any clinging bits of suet. Despite this, I really like having a feeder my shy little downy woodpeckers will regularly use and I think it is worth the trouble of the cleaning hassle.

Now for the most recent acquisition-- the Brome Squirrel Buster Peanut Feeder!

The complete Peanut Feeder assembly.

To my great delight, this newest addition is getting regular attention by our white-breasted nuthatches, which were always driven off by the larger birds and squirrels, before. Titmice, wrens and woodpeckers also visit regularly. Blue jays can no longer do a "snatch and grab" as they did with my old feeder, so they aren't pleased, but I'm less concerned about my omnivores. My landscape gives the jays and the mockingbirds plenty to choose from. A starling can, and will, perch. But the hoards of them that used to destroy my stock of peanuts are gone. Only one at a time will occupy the feeder, driving off other members of its own flock.

Again, there is a shroud or outer cage that slides up and down over an inner storage chamber. The biggest difference in this particular feeder and the Mini is all of the clinging space provided below the peanut ports. This space is designated real estate for woodpeckers and their tail-propping habits. The nuthatches use the upper portion of the shroud, clinging upside down in their usual manner. One of them is out there right now as I type this!

Feeder ports protected by hardware cloth.

Again, assembly and cleaning are a cinch. With this feeder, the ports are large, but the openings are protected with quarter-inch hardware cloth, (

pictured, left

) so that the peanuts remain in the chamber unless actively pecked. The quantity of peanuts this feeder holds would have been completely gone is less than 48 hours in my old feeder. Now a "load" will last a week or more.

After the introduction of this feeder, the consumption/waste of seed and legumes is so much lower that I'll have made back my money by the end of June. Which leaves me with only one more feeder to replace. When I do, it will be replaced with Brome's Squirrel Buster Classic, which has six ports and large enough perches to support my cardinals. More than likely, starlings will also be able to use it, but I think the old "pile on" strategy will fail just as it has with the peanut feeder. Making my feeder re-design by Brome an unmitigated success.

In the final image, you see the three separate parts of the Brome Squirrel Buster Peanut Feeder--shroud, inner containment with spring and hook. Disconnect the hanging hook, take it all apart, clean it or load it. Piece of cake. The yellow dial you see in this last image allows you to adjust the spring to support less or more weight, to better calibrate your feeding to your "viewing preferences," so to speak.

Examine the feeders

here

, then go pick one up at your local store. In Brevard, NC you can find them at Food Matters Market.

*Update, July 2013--just got the Squirrel-Buster Plus. Had to have "the ring" (larger bird perching space) so we could get our cardinals back. No regrets!

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