A platform bird feeder is the easiest feeder to have for it efficiently feeds the greatest number of birds, either on short legs right on the ground, or hanging up off the ground. It is simply a flat tray with short sides that has either short legs or a hanging wire. Some models come with both.
For anyone who is just getting started with feeding birds, platform bird feeders are a great way to begin. Birds find their food by seeing it and by seeing other birds feeding. An open tray is easy to see and easy to use. The larger the feeder, the more birds can feed at a time. It is fine to offer food directly on the ground, but then it is necessary to clean up the left over debris. Instead of throwing seed directly on the ground, there are many advantages to using a platform bird feeder on short legs. The ground feeders such as doves, cardinals, towhees, juncos, quail, mourning doves, thrushes, etc. will quickly learn to eat from it and the seed will stay cleaner and dryer as most platform bird feeders have a screen bottom. Most of the empty hulls will be left in the platform feeder for easy cleanup. When using a ground feeder, be sure to place it at least ten feet from any shrubs or other protective plants that could hide an approaching cat.
Platform bird feeders can also be hung. They are easy for birds to use, easy to add seed and kitchen scraps to and will attract a wide variety of birds such as blackbirds, bluebirds, nuthatches, jays, tanagers, titmice, woodpeckers, finches, doves, chickadees and cardinals. With a screened bottom, these are even visited regularly during a rain storm for they drain quickly and dry quickly when the sun comes out. There are even models that are covered which are especially useful in areas that get snow. Hanging platform feeders can easily be used to offer an assortment of foods that are out of reach of dogs, raccoons, squirrels, etc. Especially during the winter when natural food is scarce, platform bird feeders are perfect to offer an assortment of kitchen leftovers such as scraps of bread, cake, biscuits and pancakes, as well as cooked oatmeal, farina and other cereals. Most birds also enjoy left over mild cheeses, fruit, crackers, pasta, cornmeal, nuts, popcorn, cooked meat fat and clean eggshells. There are lots of choices. Don’t throw away those small leftovers or over ripe fruit. Give them to the birds. A hanging platform feeder is perfect for this. Remember, birds also love peanut butter. Mix it with some cornmeal and it will go further. If you don’t have a place to hang a platform bird feeder, it is fine to put leftovers in a ground feeder, but know that overnight it will probably be cleaned out by the local four legged night creatures.
Platform bird feeders are very easy to fill and keep clean. They also make it easy to view and photograph birds without the bird feeder getting in the way. There are however, two significant drawbacks to these feeders. If there are squirrels in the area, this quickly becomes their own feeding table unless the feeder is hung using baffles for protection. Also, the seed is not protected from rain, snow and wind. During times of bad weather, it is a good idea to put out only enough food and seed to last for one day.