Platform feeders, often called “fly-through” feeders, are any feeders that have an open, flat tray for placing a variety of foods. Platform feeders come in lots of styles–some with roofs, or removable screens for cleaning and drainage; they can be ground or hanging feeders, they can be extremely simple or very ornate.
But one thing all platforms and fly-through feeders have in common is that they attract the widest variety of birds. Large birds feel much more comfortable feeding on a stable platform than trying to squeeze themselves onto a precarious perch! And small birds that are able to maneuver easily on a swaying tube feeder are equally at home with the secure footing that a platform feeder provides.
Not only do you attract a large variety of birds simply because any bird can use a platform feeder, but also because of the variety of foods you can place on it. These would include any kinds of seeds of course, but you can also use platforms to offer suet, fruits, such as apple or orange halves, stale bread products, eggshells, mealworms, even corn on the cob, fresh or dried. And you can put out little cups of peanut butter for chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches and titmice, or cups of thinned grape jelly for orioles.
For all the wonderful things there are about platform feeders, there is a downside. They do attract some birds and animals that some people may prefer not to feed, such as starlings, pigeons, chipmunks and squirrels. If you are overrun with these birds and critters, perhaps a platform feeder is not for you. But if they’re making only an occasional appearance, it may be better to just make peace with them and let these creatures have a share in the bounty.
Most birds and animals that some people consider “pests” are all strongly attracted to corn and bread products. Avoid feeding these, and their visits may not be quite so frequent. Or you might try placing critter blocks or bird blocks that contain corn in another part of the yard to divert them from the platform.
So try a platform or fly through feeder! You’ll be rewarded with a huge variety of birds—cardinals, grosbeaks, catbirds, orioles, chickadees, goldfinches and so many more!
— Roxanne Brune