In the UK we are lucky to be home to a wide variety of attractive garden birds, and for many of us, feeding the birds is part of giving the garden some life. It also helps keep the smaller birds in food during the colder months, when they may find it difficult to source the natural food they need, so we put out seed and more on tables and in feeders for our tiny feathered friends.
Birds are a delight watch, after all, providing flashes of movement and colour among the flowers and shrubs, but there is a problem: no, we don’t mean the family cat – who will do his or her best to catch them – but the fact that birds are not the tidiest creatures! When pecking away at the seed in your feeder, a lot will fall to the ground. This then attracts rodents, and the last thing you want is rats and mice all over your garden.
What’s the answer? There are many examples of seed catchers on the market that are designed to hang beneath the feeder and catch any seeds that fall during the feeding process. This way, you keep the seeds off the ground, and you can re-use some that has been dropped. You’ll notice that some of the fallen seed is actually empty husks: despite their small size, birds are clever enough to crack open tiny seed cases and get to the tasty bit inside. This is why the husks of the seeds remain, and with a seed catcher, this makes them easy to get rid of before rats come for a look.
If you want a tidy garden that attracts birds, we think these clever devices are well worth checking out, so we had a look at some of the best for you. Let’s take a closer look at the top 10 bird feeder seed catchers available right now.
The Top 10
1. Songbird Essentials Seed Hoop Catcher
This model is typical of the standard type of seed catcher, and takes the form of a circular tray made from mesh, which is bordered by a metal frame to hold it taught. The great thing is that as it attaches by strong cords to the base of the feeder- and hangs below – your messy eaters will simply cause a mess on the tray, where other birds will be attracted to eat too. This is a popular item that is simple and does the job.
Many customers have commented on the effectiveness of this design – sometimes the simplest ideas are the ones that work – adding that not only does it mean less waste, it also means that birds do not eat from the ground, which makes them easy prey for the cat! It’s a nicely made design measuring 24-inches across, is easy to set up and use, and while not the cheapest, comes at a sensible price.
- 24” diameter
- Cord connection
- Keeps seeds off ground
- Very simple design
- Decent price
2. Songbird Essentials 16” Hoop Feeder
Songbird Essentials is a brand that offers a wide variety of products in this area, and can be found stocked at good garden centres, hardware stores and pet shops across the UK. They have a reputation for great products that are well-made and easy to use, and this hoop feeder- essentially a smaller version of the one featured above – is very typical of the brand. In design and operation it is the same as its bigger brother, using a mesh tray hanging by strong cords and it does the trick.
Perhaps designed for use in smaller yards or other compact outdoor spaces, this one is 16” in diameter; it’s not going to catch as much waste as the larger model, but it will certainly help with the problem. One other advantage you will find is that, like me, one of these will stop the growth of unusual and unidentified plants beneath your feeding area, and this one is also well-priced.
- 16” diameter
- Best for smaller yards and gardens
- Usual tray design
- Known brand
- Not expensive
3. Droll Yankees Bird Feeder Tray
There are a few things you should know about this model before you consider it. First, Droll Yankees is a maker of quite ‘high-end’ bird feeders and other such equipment, which are rather good if not cheap. This is a feeder tray accessory that is designed specifically to fit to any of their feeders – indeed, it does so by way of a base fitment that will only fit a feeder from their range. So, if you don’t have a Droll Yankees feeder, you will find this of no use.
The thing about Droll Yankees feeders is that, to their credit, they are designed to minimise waste in the first instance: they are single-opening feeders rather than models with a mesh container, and as such are more useful – perhaps -for indoor birds than the wild variety. This feeder is a 7.5” model – that’s a lot smaller than some we have listed here – which again suggests indoor rather than outdoor use. If that’s what you want, it might be for you.
- 5” diameter
- Only for specific brand
- Not great for outdoor use
4. Songbird Essentials 30in Universal
Back to our friends at Songbird Essentials for this one, and it’s very much a standard design as per the others we have reviewed from the brand. This one, however, is a 30” diameter model, so you get plenty of area covered by the tray, and attaches as usual by the four cords that keep the tray taut. It’s a tried and tested design that does the job it is intended for, and there’s not an awful lot more we can add about it given we’ve described them very well above.
If you want to keep seed and husks from the grass or ground – they are particularly messy on patios – and need to keep rodents at bay, then this could be one for you, but at 30” you do need quite an area so it’s one that is perhaps best in larger, open space. We can’t fault the design, the brand is well-known, and it does what it’s meant to do.
- 30” diameter
- Songbird Essentials brand
- Mesh tray
- Four cord connection
- Does the job
5. Songbird Essentials Hoop Feeder
The idea of a tray underneath a feeder – essentially to catch falling seeds and husks – is one that has cemented a decent range of products for Songbird Essentials, yet there is more to these devices than simply waste prevention. Some people actually hang the hoop feeder on its own, and put seed or other bird food on it, and use it as the sole feeder. There are some advantages to this, but it does mean you’ll likely get birds knocking seed off the edge as they eat.
This is another from our favourite brand, it’s a 30” diameter model as that above, it hangs by six cords which keep the platform taut and it’s a nice design with many merits. It can be fitted to any bird feeder or perhaps used on its own, and meets with approval from users. It’s not cheap – none of the brand’s models is – but neither is it prohibitively expensive, and it does the job.
- 30” diameter
- Mesh tray
- Can be used with or without a feeder
- Easy to use
- Known brand
6. Jacobi Jayne Big Easy Tray
This is another take on the standard seed tray design, but in this case, it’s a plastic tray that attaches to the bottom of the feeder. The blurb says it ‘fits all models’; we suspect that this is referring to all the models from the Jacobi Jayne range of feeders, rather than just any bird feeders, so you may find you need a specific device for this to work. Nevertheless, it’s cheap, sturdily made from plastic, and comes with many satisfied customer testimonies.
This one measure 34cm across so gives plenty of coverage where catching those seeds is concerned, and being clear plastic is barely noticeable when in use. To aid drainage – a natural feature of the mesh models – there are small holes where water can run through. It’s a nice bird feeder tray but if we’re right in thinking it’s brand specific, has limited appeal if you already have your feeders.
- Probably brand specific
- Built-in drainage
- 34cm diameter
7. Droll Yankees Bird Feeder Tray
Another model from the Droll Yankees brand – one of a handful that dominate this small yet lucrative market – and it’s another that is suitable only for feeders that are also made by the brand. This somewhat limits the market as the tray and feeder need to have the same fitment – something a number of buyers were unaware of as seen from their comments – yet it’s also a cheap feeder, and one that when it works, appears to do a very good job.
This one is made from clear plastic and comes with the usual holes for water drainage, is around 26cm across so is a decent size and is designed with quite a high lip at the edge so offers decent holding capacity and limited spillage. If you already have a Droll Yankees feeder or are looking for a feeder and tray combination, it’s certainly worth looking at given the price, but otherwise, be aware it may not work!
- Brand specific
- 26cm across
- High lip design
- Clear plastic
- Well priced
8. CJ Wildlife Large Feeder Tray
This is a take on the standard tray design but from another supplier, CJ Wildlife, and while it makes a claim to be ‘large’ it is dwarfed by some others on our list at just 20inches across. However, that may be big enough for some, especially if you want to keep bigger birds off your feeder. Pigeons, for example, may find the space on this one a touch restrictive, while fitting nice and comfortably on a 30 inch model and depriving your smaller birds of their much-needed lunch!
It’s a clear plastic model with a high lip to prevent spillage, comes with drainage holes for losing rainwater, is designed to be universal – although some buyers have said they had to innovate a fixing to make it work – and is not at all expensive. It might be one for you if you have a smaller space to fill, but we believe there are better options on the list albeit not quite as cheap as this.
- 20 inches
- Clear plastic
- Universal fitting
9. Tom Chambers Seed Catcher
This model – from the Tom Chambers range of wild bird products – is another take on the standard clear plastic circular seed tray, and also one that is threaded to screw onto your Tom Chambers bird feeder. This means it will only be of use to you should you have one of the brands feeders, or are buying one and need a tray to go with it. It’s not expensive, however, and the brand’s products are good and come with an excellent reputation.
You get the required drainage holes, it’s nicely made and fits neatly, but it is only 9” across. This may be suitable for you if you have a smaller area, and there are other advantages to smaller trays, but if you want a bigger one, it’s not for you. It’s popular – as are many other Tom Chambers products – so worth checking out if you are in the market for new feeders.
- Tom Chambers brand
- Brand specific tray
- Clear plastic
- 9” across
- Drainage holes
That’s our list of the top 10 seed catcher trays for you, so is there one that would suit you best? There are a few factors that you need to take into consideration when choosing one of these, so before we try and find you an ideal feeder tray, let’s have a look at those factors.
What to Look For
There are a number of reason why you would buy one of these seed catcher trays: ultimately, to catch the seeds that would otherwise fall to the ground and attract rodents, but you might also want one to add to your feeding capability. Here are a couple of factors to consider when choosing the right one:
Size – the size of seed catcher trays on our list ranges from around 7.5” to 30”, which as you can see is quite a varied spread. There are reasons you may want to choose smaller over bigger, and vice versa. If you have a small yard, naturally you don’t want a massive feeder taking over the space. If, however, you want to encourage more birds, you can use a larger tray as a feeder, meaning more birds can feast at once. However, bigger diameter means bigger birds can balance, so if you don’t want pigeons and perhaps crows, you should look at the medium sized feeders. The choice is yours!
Plastic or Mesh – there are two types of seed tray featured here: those made from clear plastic, and those made from fine mesh. Each has its merits, but we will say that the mesh models tend to be for use with any make or design of feeder, while the plastic ones are usually brand-specific, so be careful when buying.
That’s really all you need to consider when buying a seed tray, as prices vary but not by much, so the key is to ensure you buy one that will fit your feeder, or if you are buying a new feeder, get the one that is designed to go with it!
So, is there one we would recommend over the others? Let’s see if we can wrap this up.
Assuming you want a seed catcher tray for an existing feeder that you have in your garden, we believe the mesh versions are the ones to go for. They are versatile, effective, easy to keep clean and do the job they are designed for at sensible prices. The main supplier of these is most certainly Songbird Essentials, and we would happily recommend any of the sizes they have, many of which we have featured in this list.
We hope our lost has helped you find the bird seed catcher that keeps your garden tidy, and that attracts more of our wonderful birds to your garden!