Ground Tray Table Bird Feeders
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Ground, tray or table bird feeders are popular for wild watching stations due to the fact that all species of birds may land on them, and also because many birds prefer to feed directly off the ground. Northern Cardinals, while they will sit on feeders, are not as likely to use a feeder which only has perches. Instead they will eat from the ground and forage seed which has fallen out of the bird feeder. Mourning doves are another bird which enjoys ground feeding over the idea feeding directly out of a hanging or pole mounted bird feeder. Trays and tables come a simple as wooden platforms or tables with screen bottoms for drainage. This type set out at ground level helps keep seed dry and clean.
Ground / Tray / Table Bird Feeders
A ground table feeder is a simple system consisting of a tray with legs, usually raised several inches off of the ground like a small table. This keeps the seed from making direct contact with the ground and helps to keep it from becoming dirty or rotting as quickly. Also it helps to dry out seed quicker after a rain or to keep food from becoming buried in snow in northern climates. Most ground feeding tables have wire mesh or screened bottoms for drainage. Some ground feeders have a roof on them specifically to help keep snow and rain off the seed, while others have mesh cages over them to help stop feeders from being overtaken by squirrels or larger birds such as jays and crows.
Ground feeding tables should be placed in open areas at least 10 feet from the nearest tree or shrub so that predictors can not hid in the bushes and attack the feeding birds. Avoid using ground feeders if cats are likely to pounce from nearby shrubs. If this is a problem, consider a pole mounted or hanging Platform Bird Feeder.
Advantages of a table ground feeding station are that they are easy to fill and easy to clean. Since they are open, the view of feeding birds is perfect for the backyard bird watcher and you can see when the feeder needs more seed. They are great for the occasional foods you might feed the birds such as fruit or table scraps and all birds can use a platform feeder. They do attract a wide variety of songbirds! Doves, juncos, sparrows, towhees, American Goldfinch and cardinals are common visitors ground feeders. The disadvantages of a ground feeding tray is that they need to be filled more often and even if the feeder has a roof, seeds are still exposed to weather. You can not squirrel proof a ground tray unless you use a cage over it which birds can fit through, but not squirrels. If you have raccoons or other night critters, they can easily access a ground level table.
NOTE: Bowls, basins and short, low to the ground bird baths also make wonderful ground feeders. Often a bath is made from resin, cast stone or concrete, allowing for years of durability and making them easy to clean. Check our ground / low pedestal bird bath section for more decorative ideas.