Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Birding: Everything you need to know about bell feeders.

I've gotten a few questions eep!! through my R&W Instagram account asking how to get larger bully birds off the bird feeders.  While there's really no way to completely get rid of bully birds, there are things you can do to discourage them.

1.  Offer food that bully birds don't typically eat like nyjer seed (link).
2.  Try feeders with smaller perching stations like a tube feeder (link).
3.  Fill dishes on the ground with food to promote ground feeding.
4.  Invest in a bell feeder (link)See where I'm going with this post now?

how to keep away bully birds

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Birding:  Benefits of a Bird Feeder

A bell feeder is a dome shaped feeder where the base is smaller than the top.  They're typically adjustable so that the roof is easily moved up or down.  The base is typically a simple dish with a lip to hold food.

Why would I want another this feeder?

A bell feeder is unique because it offers smaller birds protection.  The dome shaped roofing makes it hard for larger birds to land on top of the feeder.  The roof also offers some protection to feeding birds from the weather.  Additionally, the adjustable height between the base and roof can offer protection for the smaller songbirds.  The larger bully birds like starlings or grackles won't push away the smaller birds because they're too tall to perch on the properly adjusted feeder.  Another great perk of a bell feeder is the versatility.  You can put any feed you want in your bell feeder.  In the above feeder you can see that I have put mealworms (link) as an attempt to attract blue birds.  That bell feeder has also held jelly and oranges to attract orioles and suet nuggets (link) to attract every bird in creation.

The short answer to this question is to offer birds protection, dissuade bully birds to feed, and food versatility.

What type of bell feeder is the best?

I've purchased two different bell feeders.  One was fully made of metal and the other one was made of plastic.  I found the plastic one was best because it didn't decay terrible after only a few weeks outside.  Unless you have super powered bully birds your dissuading, a plastic bell feeder is a great choice.  You'll want one with an adjustment specific to smaller songbirds like a chickadee.  You'll also want one with some sort of drainage system so that food doesn't spoil in rainy weather.  Finally, you'll want a bell feeder with a SCREW stopper, not an easily adjusted rubber one.  Bully birds are strong enough to adjust the bell feeders with rubber stoppers.

Do you have bully birds in your yard?


  1. Why yes we do! Blue Jays are pretty, but particularly nasty. But the worst are the crows. I’ve seen them bully the deer! I did a post on it years ago. It was shocking!

    1. They definitely aren't the kindest birds, but the worst for me are Grackles and Starlings. The bell feeders definitely help. LOL @ them bullying the deer! Yet, I'm not completely surprised.

  2. Soon you will have more cutlery and dishes for birds than in your own kitchen LOL

    1. Sadly, I'm nearly there! With all the babies around lately, I'm feeling slighted that no birdies moved into my birdhouse. I'm stopping myself from the sudden desire to buy 20 birdhouses just to see which one they like best.. LOL

  3. I haven't seen any bully birds in our yard. I did watch a daddy robin pick the fruit bits out of the feeder and pass them on to his heavily pregnant lady bird a few branches below. Was super sweet to watch. I've had a few chipmunks though that steal all of the food, but I've never seen them bully a bird. I guess there's just plenty to go around in our neighborhood that the birds don't fight over the food here. The only fight I've ever seen is between two male robins when one male was getting too close to mama and her newly hatched babies. Daddy was vigilant watching over the nest and made sure no other birds came near it.

  4. Very interesting review! I have not seen Bully birds near here. Bye the Spring begins there are somany swallow birds at sky here. Not sure whether they are Bully or not. But when they are sky other birds (piegons, sparrow) are on land.

  5. Oh my gosh, I can relate to what you said to Dez. I have two wren houses (each in different kinds of locations) and a bluebird house. Right after that I bought a platform feeder for the safflower seeds and BAM - all the birds I thought disappeared, came right back because the squirrel tried it and was like, no thanks! I may have to wait on the bell feeder until next season. My husband brought home two more feeders for me for Mother's Day. haha



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