Why is a camera gear site reviewing a bird feeder? If you are looking for nature subjects, a bird feeder will bring in, minimally, the feathered ones and can be a key to great photos. Black oil sunflower seeds are one of the primary attractants for birds and a tube feeder is one of the ideal feeder types for these seeds.
What is the best tube-style bird feeder available? My answer to that question is the Droll Yankee B-72 Executive Tube Feeder. While I have not used all of the bird feeders on the market today, I have a lot of experience with this model. This year marks the 20th anniversary of our house and one of the first purchases for the new house was a Droll Yankee Executive bird feeder. I quickly realized that the volume of birds being attracted exceeded the 12-station capacity of the first feeder, so I added the second. After nearly 20-years of use, both of these feeders continue to work perfectly.
While at first glance, a bird feeder lasting for 20 years of continuous use may not sound terribly impressive. Birds to not put much wear and tear on a feeder. But, bears do.
The USA-made Droll Yankee B-72 Executive Tube Feeder features a stainless steel wire hanger. The 30" (762mm) long, 4qt (3.8l) high capacity tube (I fill it with a 1-gallon pitcher) is constructed of UV stabilized polycarbonate. The top and bottom caps along with the 12 feeding ports are die cast metal with metal perches that extend completely through the feeder. The perches are ideal for finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and similar, but other birds including woodpeckers, cardinals and blue jays often use the tube. The base is threaded, allowing the addition of a tray or other accessories.
This feeder is very nice, but it is nothing amazing from an aesthetical perspective. It is a simple high capacity tube feeder with plenty of feeding stations. It is however, very impressive from a build quality perspective.
While birds are not generally destructive to bird feeders and do not warrant special build quality, four-legged critters with a bigger appetite, larger claws and destructive teeth often show up with the feathered ones. Squirrels and raccoons will chew through many materials, but the metal feeding stations have proven impervious to their teeth and they cannot get their teeth into the tube due to the curved design being capped in metal. I prevented the squirrels and raccoons from accessing the seed a long time ago (squirrels were the primary consumer of over a ton of bird seed annually) via a large baffle and aluminum wrap on my 4x4" wooden feeder post, but ... I have not overcome the large-sized black bear problem.
For over 20 years, my Droll Yankee Executive Tube Feeders have survived random bear attacks. These feeders have been pulled so hard that the heavy duty eye hook holding them was ripped out of the overhead 4x4 – multiple times. The feeders have been unhooked and unscrewed, have been carried, have been bitten, emptied and simply abused. There are plenty of non-impacting teeth holes in them.
We have watched younger bears hanging and swinging from the feeders while trying to eat the seeds. The larger bears use the pegs as paw-holds while licking the seeds out of the little holes (bears eat bird seed very slowly). Some of the pegs are bent and the hanging wire is usually bent into more of a V-shape than the original arch and sometimes needs a slight bend to permit the lid to slide up and open properly.
Note that feeding bears near the house is seldom a good idea. They are very destructive and can be dangerous (the bear shown above had two cubs with her). Intentionally feeding bears may even land you in trouble with the local wildlife law enforcement officer. When the bears show up, our feeders are brought in at night until there no further sign of bears. A few days is usually all it takes for them to find a new food source. The feeder attacks typically happen for shorts periods of time in the spring and fall, but the attacks are unpredictable and some even happen in the middle of the day as shown in the above photo (12:54 PM).
Maintaining a bird feeding station year-round insures that feathered subjects are always available, providing fast access subjects when even short periods of behind the lens time open up. I do not get out in the blind as often as I would like to, but I still enjoy watching the birds from indoors. After 20 years of abuse, I'm totally impressed that this feeder still works great. The Droll Yankee Executive Tube Feeder may be the last feeder you buy.
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