Backyard Buffet

The latest trend in bird feeders focuses on creating a theme in the backyard. Whether the focus is on a copper look or a tropical island atmosphere, the idea is to incorporate feeders that are artistic features even if there are no birds sitting on them.


“Bird lovers are definitely intrigued by the idea of a garden theme,” says birding expert Sharon Stiteler of Minneapolis, Minn. It’s a natural progression as people begin to incorporate feeders along with other features into the general landscape design of their yard.

“The tiki look is definitely a hot new trend. There’s a wonderful range of hummingbird feeders shaped like martini glasses and strawberry daiquiris. The red pimento in the olive in the martini feeders is designed to attract hummingbirds and orioles. And the same goes for the strawberry color in the daiquiri-shaped feeder.

“Copper is another popular look,” says Stiteler. “There’s a large variety of innovative copper designs from standard tube feeders to platform designs catering to all kinds of backyard birds. Fortunately, these innovative designs include attractive poles and brackets too. Also they are also long lasting. It’s reassuring for bird lovers to know their money is being well spent.”


Another popular trend right now is the variety of feeders made from recycled plastic that cater to a myriad of different birds such as hoppers, trays, nectar and tubular feeders.

“People like the idea that their bird feeder is eco-friendly too,” says Josette Costa of Kol Koi in Kennesaw, Georgia.

“When first introduced to the idea of feeding birds in their back yard, bird lovers usually start off with something simple like a platform feeder. Then if they are enjoying the experience, they come back and add more feeders to their outdoor area to attract different types of birds. Once again, these designs in recycled plastic all slot in well with every patio or landscaped area, making them popular sellers.”


Both Stiteler and Costa concur that good looks are one thing but good housekeeping is equally important in order to avoid the spread salmonella and other illnesses to the bird population.

“The latest technology incorporated into these new designs also makes it very easy to take the feeders apart to clean,” explains Costa. “No matter how innovative a design may be, the bottom of a feeder has to be easy to remove and reassemble. I also ensure that customers never leave the store without the right brushes and accessories to make regular maintenance hassle-free.”


Of course bird feeders are synonymous with squirrels and there are many ingenious ways that manufacturers have developed over the years to ensure these pesky creatures don’t invade feeding stations that are strictly for the birds.

“I like the motor-driven Yankee Flipper that is activated by the weight of the squirrel, throwing it off,” explains Costa. “I have an explanatory video on this product running on a continuous loop in my store. Apart from being amusing viewing, it shows customers exactly how it works and certainly helps to promote sales.

“I also like gadgets like the Twirl-a-Squirrel that starts revolving when a squirrel tries to jump on board. This can be added to existing feeders which means that bird lovers don’t have the added expense of having to buy a whole new system.”

Weighing in on this subject Stiteler says that latest electrified feeders such as the Squirrel-off that give squirrels a mild zap are proving to be very effective too.

“I’ve personally tested it. The zap is very mild but just enough to ensure that the squirrel won’t be back any time soon. Also it’s solar-driven and will continue to operate for eight hours even if it’s been covered with snow. Also, the design is sturdy and it’s easy to see inside to ascertain when you have to add more seed. In the past, many squirrel-proof feeders have been very ‘boxy’ in design and not particularly attractive.”


“People rely on specialty birding stores for their information and it’s important to have knowledgeable staff on hand to explain things such as different types of feeds,” says Sue Hays of the Wild Bird Feeding Industry in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. “For instance, hot seeds that have been coated with peppers are a great squirrel deterrent too.”

“Sometimes people overlook the obvious by putting their feeding stations too close to a tree or overhang which give squirrels easy access. I suggest feeding stations should be at least six-and-half-feet away from any overhang and should have a baffle on a pole to prevent them climbing from the bottom upwards too.”

Retailers all agree that no one particular style of bird feed outsells the others.

“It’s a matter of starting with something simply like a sunflower tube and perhaps attaching a tray allowing several different types of birds to feed off it,” explains Stiteler. “What birds live in an area and what kind of birds people would like to see in their garden dictates what type of feeders they will add to their collection. Some enthusiasts have as many as ten or twelve.”


She also points out that birding is becoming a year-round business for retailers. While most people feed in the winter months, new feeders make great gifts for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day which appear on the calendar in May and June.

It’s also important to keep in touch with regular customers throughout the year.

“I send out regular mailers,” says Costa. “Coupons offering discounts on entire purchases for a particular month are a huge draw card.


“Apart from having several feeders in their garden people are also starting to incorporate bird ponds into their general landscape,” adds Costa. “They are definitely becoming more popular. Some people are even adding them to the general layout of their Koi pond.

“We have an area outside out store where we have several feeders and we are planning to add a bird pond too. Our customers love to come and sit and watch the birding activity. The ideal bird pond is shallow so that a variety of birds can come and drink and bathe. We plan to sell it as a kit to customers complete with the filter and various bird safe products to keep the water clean. Bird ponds are the answer for people who enjoy a water feature but don’t want to have to deal with the ongoing maintenance required with a huge fish pond.”

“There’s definitely a new trend emerging,” says Trevor Libby of Aquatic Elements in Royston, Georgia. “About ninety per cent of the Koi ponds I build for customers have bird feeders on the edges and I am now getting a lot of requests to incorporate bird ponds into customized designs too.”

Retailers agree that this is just another way of enhancing the back yard.

“I think the reason bird ponds are becoming popular is because people aren’t taking big vacations like they used to,” says Costa. “Instead they are staying home and want to enjoy their back yard. With a well-designed Koi pond and bird pond feature as part of their landscaped area, they are content to relax and vacation at home.”

  1. •To boost sales, always ensure the right seed is placed alongside displays of the relevant feeders.
  2. •Running continuous videos are an excellent selling feature to show customers how squirrel-deterrents work. And they can be amusing too.
  3. •Display feeders out of their boxes by utilizing attractive stands and poles both in store and in outside areas.
  4. •If you have feeders in use outside your store, install special motion-sensitive cameras to capture photographs of bird seeding off your stations and display them for customers to enjoy.
  5. •Invite customers to send in their own photographs and display them.
  6. •Ensure the shelves housing feed are always clean. Layers of dusty imply the feed is old!
  7. •Stay in touch via an email newsletter with regular birding customers. Offer discounts at various times of the year when business is slow to encourage customers to come in.


This article is from Water Garden News

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