Wildlife and Nature Photography

Seed Cylinders: An Inexpensive Option For Backyard Bird Feeding

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This male Hairy Woodpecker is one of the many birds I have enjoyed watching feed from a seed cylinder I recently hung in my backyard.

As an avid birder I spend a lot of time at various locations around the city looking for, watching, and photographing birds. One of my favourite locations to view birds is in my own backyard. Since purchasing my house in 2007, I have slowly transformed my yard from an area void of vegetation, to an inviting bird habitat filled with a variety of native trees, shrubs, and wildflowers. Along with the natural habitat, I have also added a water feature and several bird feeders.

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Several woodpeckers including this male Northern Flicker are regular visitors to my peanut feeder. With an abundance of woodpeckers in my yard, I wanted to provide another location for these birds feed.

Of the birds that visit my yard, woodpeckers are among my favourites. In fact, the Red-bellied Woodpecker, a common visitor to my yard, is my favourite bird. Other species of woodpecker that regularly visit my yard include Downy, Hairy, and Northern Flicker. Late last year, I decided I wanted to add another feeder for these birds to feed at. With ten feeders already spread out across my yard, I couldn’t justify spending a lot of money on another feeder. Already having suet and peanut feeders I wanted to find something different. After considering several options, I decided to go with a simple seed cylinder and holder.   

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Even with eleven feeders in my yard, birds like this female Downy Woodpecker still must wait for an opportunity to feed.

Seed cylinders, also referred to as seed logs, are made from various seeds and held together with an edible binder. They are similar to suet cakes, but much more dense. One advantage to this is that birds have to work a little bit to free the seed, which provides longer views than a feeder where the bird can simply grab a single seed and go. Since I was wanting to attract mostly woodpeckers, I decided on a seed cylinder that consists chiefly of peanuts, but also happens to contain hulled sunflower seeds and cut corn. The holder I purchased is a simple metal design that slides through the cylinder and doubles as a perch. The cost of the holder was $7 while the log itself was $10, so for just under $20, taxes included, I found an inexpensive option.

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The Red-bellied Woodpecker is my favourite bird and one I quite enjoy watching in my own backyard.

Only a few hours after hanging the cylinder I noticed the first bird feeding on it, a male Northern Flicker. Since then, several other birds have found it and have returned regularly to feed. Along with all of the woodpecker species previously mentioned in this post, other birds that I have noticed using this feeder have included American Goldfinch, Dark-eyed Junco, and Carolina Wren,    

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American Goldfinches have been attracted to the hulled sunflower seed in the cylinder I selected.

Much like other bird feeders, seed cylinders can be hung just about anywhere. A tree branch, shepherd’s hook, or even from your eavestrough in front of a window, are all great options. As with most feeders, choose a location where it is not accessible to squirrels, unless of course you don’t mind feeding them too. Seed cylinders are made with a wide variety of seeds so choose one based on the birds you wish to attract or the birds in your area. 

If you are looking to add an inexpensive bird feeder to your yard, I highly recommend considering a seed cylinder. I have enjoyed watching the birds feed at mine over the past month, and my only regret has been not purchasing one sooner.

Good birding,


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4 Responses to “Seed Cylinders: An Inexpensive Option For Backyard Bird Feeding”

  1. kduchene

    The seed cylinder was a great option to use at my mother’s home in London. With a seed cylinder hanging in the backyard there were birds around for her to enjoy every day – and for me to enjoy whenever I was visiting. It would last for weeks before a new cylinder was needed.

    • Paul Roedding

      The longevity of the cylinders is certainly another bonus. They are perfect for anyone not wanting to, or unable to fill a feeder daily.

  2. Ryan O

    Any suggestions on a good place to purchase these inexpensive cylinders?

    • Paul Roedding

      Here in London you can purchase them at either Featherfields or Hyde Park Feed and Country Store. The one I am using is called Garden Friendly and consists of peanut halves, hulled sunflower seed and cut corn.

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