Fly Thru Bird Feeders: How To Choose One for Your Yard

Fly Thru Bird Feeders

Fly-through bird feeders are a great idea – they  are good for lots of different birds, even the most shy ones, they’re a breeze to fill and to clean, and they make observing birds really easy. There are a lot of fly-through bird feeders available, though, and finding the right one can be a bit of a daunting experience.

So in this article I’m going to talk a little bit about this great product, and make my recommendations for the best fly-through feeders on the market today. 

If you’re in a hurry, and just want to fly through, here’s my top pick:

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But if you’re willing to get into it, we’ll talk in some detail about fly-through bird feeders and why they’re so great, and then offer descriptions and reviews of 7 of the best ones you can find.

And then, in the Bonus Section at the end of the article, we’ll get into a slightly different, and arguably slightly prettier, take on the subject, with a list of the best ornamental fly through bird feeders.

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What Are the Advantages of a Fly-Through Bird Feeder?

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Often cited as a great choice for new birdwatchers, a fly-through bird feeder can in fact be a perfect choice for experienced birders as well, and they offer all kinds of advantages:

  • They are super easy to clean and to fill
  • They attract all kinds of birds – big and small, ground and air foragers
  • They can make a great adjunct to normal feeders, since larger and more aggressive birds love them and will tend to leave the other feeders (and the others feeding) alone
  • They make observing and photographing birds quite easy and effective
  • They are available in a wide range of styles and prices

There are a few disadvantages as well – the food is more vulnerable to the elements, possibly blowing away in heavy winds or getting wet and ruined in the rain, and they are also more accessible to squirrels and other freeloaders. Of course the best designs, and the most well made, heavy and stable feeders, will tend to sidestep these problems.

And anyway, the advantages way outweigh any possible downsides, and one of the greatest advantages of all is the beauty the best fly-through bird feeders can bring to your backyard. Not only are they themselves often really nice looking, and a nice complement to any yard or garden, they will attract and serve so many beautiful birds.

In fact, even birds that are often reluctant, or flat unwilling, to use other feeders will be happy to come to your new fly-through feeder – and some of these shy birds – the Northern Cardinal, for instance – are indescribably beautiful, and seeing them in your yard is a real joy!

How to Find the Best Fly-Through Bird Feeders for Your Yard

There are two basic types of fly-through bird feeders – ground feeders and hanging/mounted feeders. 

They are essentially the same in design and function, but as you might have already guessed, one is meant to mount on a pole or beam, or hang from a post or branch, and the other is meant to sit on the ground or other flat, stable surface.

Some of your medium to larger bird varieties – like pheasants of various kinds, pigeons and doves, some buntings and cardinals – like a ground feeder, and some smaller varieties will use them too. Most larger birds will also take advantage of a hanging or high mounted fly-thru feeder, and many people like having at least one fly-thru, in addition to other types of feeders, to keep bigger and more aggressive away from smaller feeders and smaller birds.

If you are in a place where you know there are a lot of ground-feeding birds, you might well consider getting a ground-mounted fly-thru, which will also keep those birds busy while the little wingers enjoy an unchallenged dinner up above, but a hanging or pole mounted feeder may be the better all around choice.

Ok, One Other Type! The Ornamental Fly-Through Bird Feeder

There is actually a third option – a hanging fly-through bird feeder that is not the typical open tray type we’re mainly covering here, but instead a pretty ornamental feeder that can add a really beautiful touch to any yard or garden.

These feeders tend to be smaller, and won’t accommodate as many birds, or as large of birds, but are enormously popular all the same. Because they are so different in design, I will talk about them separately, in a brief Bonus Section at the end of the article.

Whichever type you think is best for you and your birds, you will find the top options here, in this guide to the best fly-thru feeders of all kinds – so let’s get right into the best choices for fly-through bird feeders on the market today!

The Best Fly-Thru Bird Feeders in 2022

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Best Cheap Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

JCs Wildlife Poly Lumber and Acrylic Hanging Bird Feeder with Roof 

[amazon box=”B00YHNKJ52″]

A clean and simple smaller fly-through bird feeder, the JCs Wildlife acrylic hanging feeder is a wonderful product for a very low price – yes, you can spend even less, but you won’t get nearly this level of quality.

One thing you can always count on with JCs feeders is an intelligent and useful design that is made by people who know birds, and this basic feeder is very well designed indeed – just the right size and proportions, with a well-placed clear acrylic roof that keeps the seed dry, drainage holes in the seed tray, nice perching holes on the poly lumber sides and overall stable and highly durable construction and materials.

A smaller feeder, made to hold up to three cups of bird feed, this is great for smaller birds, but can get a bit overwhelmed if you have a lot of larger flyers in your yard, so many people use this in conjunction with a larger feeder, like one of the great choices below – hanging or ground – from the same company.

A solid, durable and attractive small fly through bird feeder, made in the United States by a great company, the JCs poly lumber and acrylic fly through bird feeder is by far the best choice I’ve found at this low price!

Pros:

  • Incredibly Well Made – Especially at This Price!
  • Nice Looking
  • Stable and Well Designed
  • Roof, Drainage and Air Flow Keep Seed Dry and Fresh
  • Incredible Value

Cons:

  • At This Price, None

Best Small Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

Perky-Pet B00303 Fly-Through Wild Bird Feeder

[amazon box=”B00DK494IM”]

A bit of a different design than other choices on this list of best open bird feeders, the Perky-Pet small bird feeder is perfect for a really wide range of small birds.

Essentially a two in one design, this mesh feeder is made to be filled with seed – about two pounds – instead of holding it on a tray, and it allows little birds to either fly through or to perch and take seed from the sides. This really does seem to bring a wider variety of birds to your yard, and they all seem really happy using it.

An inexpensive feeder, the Perky-Pet is nonetheless very sturdy and well built, made from weather resistant metal that is lightweight but stable, and the design is not just great for birds and their various feeding habits, but also somehow manages to hang really steady and allow for some rambunctious behavior during meals – you know how birds can be!

A very high quality small feeder with a brilliant design, the Perky-Pet fly-through wild bird feeder seems like a lot more premium of a product than you might expect for the price, and is not just super-attractive to birds, but attractive to look at as well.

Pros:

  • Very Attractive Design – To Birds and For Us
  • Accommodates Different Types of Feeding
  • Stable Hanging
  • Well Made of Good Materials
  • Great Price

Cons:

  • Not for Larger Birds

Best Value Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

Woodlink Going Green Large Premier Bird Feeder Model GGPRO1

[amazon box=”B08QY7W6X4″]

The Woodlink Going Green fly-through feeder is not, actually, that much less expensive than the JCs Wildlife model I so strongly recommend below.

But in fact this very similar feeder – similar in design, and similar in excellence and overall quality – is often available at a fabulous discount, and in fact the above link should lead you to a two-pack which is an even better deal!

And it’s even a bit bigger, and can hold over five pounds of seed, while remaining stable and holding its shape and position.

The Woodlink fly-thru feeder has a nice powder-coated rustproof bottom layer, which is perforated for drainage and proper air circulation to keep your birdseed nice and fresh, and easily removable for cleaning, and the hinged roof swings out of the way to make filling easy.

The material is almost all post-consumer recycled plastic, with the exception of the metal mesh and some screws. It is very sturdy and well built, and is designed to be durable in the sun and even with exposure to extreme elements, and should stay looking good for many, many years.

A great fly through bird feeder at any price, if you can get the Woodlink Going Green at the promotion price it is an absolute steal!

Pros:

  • Durable and Well Made
  • Very Stable and Sturdy
  • Great Value
  • Easy to Fill and Clean
  • Nice Larger Size

Cons:

  • Maybe Not Quite as Well Made as the JCs Feeders Below (Maybe)

Best Wooden Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

Woodlink Cedar Fly-Thru Bird Feeder, Cedar

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Lots of people prefer some sort of plastic or poly-lumber material for bird feeders, since it is durable and holds up so well even in extreme weather, but there is something about a wooden bird feeder that looks so beautiful, so high quality and so appropriate.

I’m choosing the Woodlink cedar feeder as my choice for best wooden feeder not just because it comes from one of my favorite companies, but also because it has those qualities that people who prefer wood would really love – simple, well finished wooden roof and tray made from beautiful natural inland cedar, graceful and nicely curved side posts of powder-coated black metal, and an overall very solid and high quality construction – handmade in the United States.

The perforated metal seed tray and three wooden slats on the bottom allow for water drainage and just the right amount of air flow, and the pole-mounted design is extremely stable – this is a small feeder, but one of the few that will not get upset if you get a few larger visitors.

Beautifully made, simple and attractive, and a feeder that birds just seem to love, the Woodlink cedar fly-through feeder is a wonderful product that really hearkens back to the days of hand made premium craftsmanship and pride in manufacturing, and is a product you will be proud to have in your yard.

Pros:

  • Beautiful Product
  • Extremely Well Made
  • Very Stable
  • Good for Small and Large Birds
  • Great Drainage and Air Flow

Cons:

  • Ultimately Not as Durable as Poly-Lumber

Best Fly-Thru Bird Feeder Overall

JCs Wildlife Large Hanging Fly-Thru Bird Feeder with Removable Seed Tray

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I realize that this article on best fly-thru bird feeders looks like a  bit of a JCs Wildlife love-fest, and indeed I could say it as simply as – if you want the best fly-thru bird feeders on the market today, just go to the JCs Shop Page and choose, well, any of them.

Because they really do make the best fly-thrus you can get, and this highly popular large hanging model is a very good example.

Made in the US from super-durable poly lumber, which will hold its color, shape and structure for years, this big feeder has a lift out feeding tray for easy filling and cleaning, and the tray holds up to 8 cups of seed – which is a good thing, since these big open feeders tend to be very popular!

The tray has drainage holes all along the bottom, and the bottom of the feeder beneath the tray is wide open to promote air circulation – just three support slats – so seed will stay dry and fresh longer, and attract more birds.

The polyresin “lumber” is not just durable, it is environmentally conscious, made from recycled material, and the feeder can be hung with an included hanger or pole mounted.

Perfectly designed and beautifully crafted, and made to last a lifetime, the JCs Wildlife large feeder is my first choice, and the best fly-thru bird feeder I’ve ever used!

Pros:

  • Superior Design
  • Keeps Seed Fresh and Dry
  • Excellent, Durable Materials
  • Very Well Made
  • Environmentally Friendly

Cons:

  • None

Best Ground-Mount Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

JCs Wildlife Large Ground Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

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Essentially the exact same feeder as my top pick – the JCs large hanging fly-thru feeder just above – this ground-sitting large feeder is just as wonderful in every way, and a great choice if you have a lot of larger ground-foraging birds.

Made in the US from JCs’ excellent, durable and attractive poly-lumber – which is not just long lasting and nice looking, but environmentally friendly as well – this is a feeder that will last for many years, even in harsh conditions, and will maintain its shape and solidity as well as its appearance.

Just like its hanging counterpart, the JCs ground-sitting feeder also has a perfectly designed feed tray, which lifts out for easy cleaning and filling and has just the right drainage and air flow to keep seed fresh and attractive to birds.

Like any JCs product I’ve ever used, their large ground fly-thru feeder is a superior quality item in every way, very solid and stable, perfectly designed and made to last a lifetime.

Pros:

  • Very Attractive to Ground Birds
  • Lift Out Tray
  • Good Drainage and Air Flow
  • Highly Durable and Very Stable
  • Environmentally Friendly

Cons:

  • Could be a Bit Larger

Best Large Fly-Through Bird Feeder

DutchCrafters Large Fly-Through Covered Ground Feeder for Wild Birds

[amazon box=”B07KXP44KR”]

One of the things I’ve loved about putting together this list of best fly-through bird feeders is that I can recommend products that are truly superior quality on all levels – design and effectiveness, material and build quality, the companies making them and their excellent customer service and support and a lot more – and yet ones that aren’t necessarily more expensive.

And this is definitely the case with my choice for best large fly-through feeder for birds, the DutchCrafters ground mount feeder with removable seed tray.

While it may seem at first like a fairly expensive product, this is in fact an amazing value, and there are certainly a lot of similarly-priced feeders that don’t even come close to the DutchCrafters in terms of the build quality, durability and solidness.

But what really sets this big, open feeder apart is its design – a deceptively simple product, it has just the right size and shape of roof to keep the seed dry and protected, a perfect seed tray, lift-out for easy filling and cleaning and with optimal drainage, and a wide and solid configuration that will remain stable even with larger birds.

Serious birders will usually have at least one large ground feeder, in addition to other smaller pole-mounted or hanging feeders, to keep ground-foragers and large birds happy – and to keep the smaller flyers happy as well, and un-harrassed while they dine – and this DutchCrafters large ground fly-through is the best I’ve found – one of my favorite feeders from one of my favorite companies.

Pros:

  • Extremely Stable
  • Very High Quality Materials and Construction
  • Lift Out Seed Tray
  • Good Drainage and Air Flow

Cons:

  • None

Bonus Section: The Best Ornamental Fly-Through Bird Feeders

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There’s something about the simple, no-nonsense designs of the fly-through feeders I’ve listed above that seems to recommend them to “serious” bird watchers – and to be sure they are all really well made, perfectly designed and will attract tons of birds.

What they are not, though, at least to some people, is pretty!

And in fact when a lot of folks think about the fly-thru bird feeder, they see instead a small, graceful stained glass or hand-crafted metal feeder with a hole in the center, where lovely little birds pass through for a quick bite.

The best ornamental feeders are beautiful, and beautifully made, and they can work just as well and attract just as many birds as the platform varieties I’ve included above – although mostly smaller birds.

So I thought it would be nice to close this article with a very brief list of my very favorite ornamental fly-through bird feeders – not in-depth looks or reviews, just a glance at a half a dozen feeders that I think are really beautiful and truly superior in terms of craftsmanship, design and effectiveness and overall quality.

In each case I am also providing a link to the company’s store page – they all make a range of really nice bird feeders and other bird-related products, definitely worth checking out!

Byer of Maine Mango Stone Fly Through Bird Feeder

An incredibly simple and effective design and a beautiful high-fired ceramic fly-through bird feeder

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Lily’s Home Hanging Outdoor Fly Through Wild Bird Feeder

A very nicely made and effective stained glass fly-through bird feeder, and it’s really, really pretty!

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Yinns Mosaic Crimson Glass Fly Through Bird Feeder

Beautiful glasswork and a effective larger design from a company that knows and loves birds

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Collections Etc Clear Canteen Style Fly Through Bird Feeder

A unique see-through feeder that is strong and stable and very well made

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Good Directions Extra Large Copper Teardrop Fly-Thru Bird Feeder

A big, bold and beautifully crafted copper feeder that’s easy to fill and keeps seed fresh

[amazon box=”B083592DXY”]


Sunnydaze Indigo Flower Fly-Through Bird Feeder

A premium quality small feeder with a unique and beau

[amazon box=”B07D9NQSPY”]

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