The Best Bird Feeders For Attracting Birds In San Francisco

San Francisco offers prime birdwatching, with over 300 species spotted in the city. If you want to attract beautiful, colorful birds to your yard, getting the right type of bird feeder is key. The quick answer is tube feeders, hopper feeders, and platform feeders work best for San Francisco’s common birds. But choosing the best feeder depends on your yard and which birds you want to target.

In this detailed guide, we’ll over everything you need to know about setting up bird feeders in San Francisco. We’ll cover what birds are commonly seen, their food preferences, types of feeders, placement tips, high-quality feed, other bird-friendly elements to add, and where to buy supplies. By the end, you’ll be ready to turn your SF yard into an urban bird sanctuary.

Common Backyard Birds in San Francisco

Year-Round Residents

San Francisco is home to a diverse range of bird species that can be found year-round in backyard gardens and parks. Some of the most common year-round residents include:

  • Anna’s Hummingbird: This small, colorful bird is known for its vibrant iridescent feathers and its ability to hover in mid-air. It is a frequent visitor to backyard feeders and gardens.
  • House Finch: The House Finch is a small, sociable bird that can be easily identified by its reddish plumage and distinctive song. It is often seen perched on feeders or hopping around on the ground.
  • American Robin: The American Robin is a familiar sight in San Francisco, known for its orange breast and melodious song. These birds are often seen foraging for worms and insects in lawns and gardens.
  • Dark-eyed Junco: This small sparrow-like bird is a common sight in San Francisco during the winter months. It can be identified by its dark gray plumage and white belly.

These are just a few examples of the many bird species that can be found in San Francisco year-round. By providing a variety of bird feeders and a suitable habitat, you can attract these beautiful creatures to your backyard.

Seasonal Visitors

In addition to the year-round residents, San Francisco also attracts a number of migratory bird species during certain times of the year. These seasonal visitors include:

  • Western Tanager: The Western Tanager is a stunning bird with bright yellow plumage and a red head. It can be seen in San Francisco during the summer months as it migrates north to breed.
  • Cedar Waxwing: The Cedar Waxwing is a sleek, crested bird that visits San Francisco in the winter months to feed on berries. They can often be seen in flocks, perched in trees.
  • White-crowned Sparrow: This migratory sparrow is a common winter visitor to San Francisco. It can be identified by its distinctive black and white striped crown.
  • Yellow Warbler: The Yellow Warbler is a small, brightly colored bird that passes through San Francisco during its spring migration. It can often be seen in brushy areas and near water sources.

These are just a few examples of the many migratory bird species that visit San Francisco. By providing a welcoming environment with food and water sources, you can attract these beautiful birds and enjoy their presence during their seasonal visits.

Bird Feeder Styles and Placement

When it comes to attracting birds in San Francisco, choosing the right bird feeder style and placing it in the right location can make a significant difference. Different bird feeder styles cater to different types of birds and their feeding preferences.

Additionally, proper placement ensures that the birds feel safe and comfortable while enjoying the bird feed. Here are some popular bird feeder styles and tips on where to place them:

Tube Feeders

Tube feeders are a common choice for attracting a variety of birds. These feeders have multiple feeding ports and are typically filled with sunflower seeds or mixed birdseed. The small perches attached to the feeder allow birds to cling while feeding.

Tube feeders are especially popular for attracting finches, chickadees, and sparrows.

Hopper Feeders

Hopper feeders are larger feeders that can hold a significant amount of birdseed. They are designed with a platform and a roof-like structure that protects the seed from rain and snow. Hopper feeders are ideal for attracting larger birds such as cardinals, jays, and mourning doves.

Platform Feeders

Platform feeders, also known as tray feeders, provide a flat surface where birds can perch and feed. These feeders are suitable for attracting ground-feeding birds like juncos, sparrows, and doves. Platform feeders can also accommodate multiple birds at once, making them a great choice for communal feeding.

Suet Feeders

Suet feeders are designed to hold blocks of suet, a high-energy food made from animal fat. These feeders have wire cages or holders to secure the suet, and they are especially popular for attracting woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. Suet feeders can be hung from trees or mounted on poles.

Nectar Feeders

Nectar feeders are specifically designed for hummingbirds. These feeders typically have small, red feeding ports that mimic the shape of flowers. The nectar solution used in these feeders is a mixture of sugar and water.

Hanging nectar feeders in a quiet and shady area can attract hummingbirds to your backyard.

Feeder Poles and Mounts

Choosing the right pole or mount for your bird feeder is equally important. It should be sturdy and secure to prevent squirrels or other animals from accessing the feeder. Additionally, consider placing the feeder at a height that is safe for birds and easily visible for birdwatching enthusiasts.

For more information on bird feeder styles and placement, you can visit or These websites provide comprehensive guides on attracting birds and creating bird-friendly environments in your backyard.

Bird Feed and Water Sources

When it comes to attracting birds to your yard in San Francisco, providing a variety of bird feed and water sources is essential. Not only will these resources help attract a diverse range of bird species, but they will also ensure that the birds have a reliable food and water supply throughout the year.

Types of Bird Feed

There are several types of bird feed that you can offer to attract a wide variety of birds. Some of the most popular options include:

  • Seed Mixes: Seed mixes that contain a combination of sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn are a great option for attracting a diverse range of bird species. Different birds have different preferences, so offering a variety of seed mixes can help attract a larger number of bird species to your yard.
  • Suet: Suet is a high-energy food that is especially beneficial for birds during the colder months when food sources may be scarce. You can offer suet in specialized suet feeders or simply place it in a mesh bag and hang it from a tree branch.
  • Fruit: Some birds, such as orioles and tanagers, are attracted to fruit. You can attract these beautiful birds by offering slices of oranges, grapes, or other fruits on a platform feeder.
  • Nectar: If you want to attract hummingbirds, offering nectar is a must. You can make your own nectar by mixing one part sugar with four parts water. Remember to avoid using red food coloring, as it can be harmful to hummingbirds.

Water Features

In addition to bird feed, providing a water source is crucial for attracting birds to your yard. Birds need water not only for drinking but also for bathing and preening their feathers. Here are some options for creating water features:

  • Birdbaths: Birdbaths are a classic choice for providing water to birds. Choose a birdbath with a shallow basin and add stones or pebbles to provide different depths for birds of various sizes.
  • Misters and Drippers: Misters and drippers are devices that produce a fine mist or a gentle drip of water, mimicking the effect of rain. These can be attached to a garden hose and positioned near vegetation to attract birds.
  • Ponds or Water Gardens: If you have enough space, consider creating a small pond or water garden in your yard. These features not only provide water for birds but also attract other wildlife and create a peaceful oasis.

Remember to clean and refill your bird feeders and water sources regularly to maintain hygiene and ensure a steady supply of food and water for the birds. By offering a variety of bird feed and water sources, you’ll be creating an inviting habitat that will attract a delightful array of birds to your yard in San Francisco.

Other Bird Habitat Elements

Bird Baths

Another essential element for attracting birds to your backyard in San Francisco is a bird bath. Birds need water for drinking and bathing, and providing a bird bath can help meet their needs. A shallow bowl with clean water can be placed in your garden or near your bird feeders.

Make sure to keep the water clean and change it regularly to prevent the growth of bacteria or mosquitoes. Adding a small fountain or dripper to the bird bath can also attract birds, as the sound of running water is appealing to them.

Native Plants and Trees

Creating a bird-friendly habitat involves more than just providing food. Native plants and trees play a crucial role in attracting birds by providing them with shelter, nesting sites, and natural food sources. Native plants are adapted to the local climate and provide a familiar habitat for birds.

They also attract insects, which are an important food source for many bird species. Planting a variety of native flowers, shrubs, and trees in your yard can create a diverse and vibrant ecosystem that will attract a wide range of bird species.


In addition to food and water, birds also need shelter to feel safe and secure. Providing natural or artificial shelters can increase the chances of birds visiting your backyard. Natural shelters can include dense shrubs, thickets, or trees with branches close together.

These provide birds with places to hide from predators and adverse weather conditions. If natural shelters are not available, you can also install birdhouses or nesting boxes. These structures mimic natural cavities and provide nesting sites for birds.

Make sure to place them in suitable locations and keep them clean to maximize their effectiveness.

For more information on creating a bird-friendly habitat and attracting birds in San Francisco, you can visit This website provides valuable resources and tips on bird conservation and habitat enhancement specific to the San Francisco area.

Where to Buy Bird Supplies in SF

If you’re looking to attract birds to your backyard in San Francisco, having the right bird supplies is essential. Fortunately, there are several places in the city where you can find a wide variety of bird feeders and other bird-related products. Here are some top options:

1. Wild Birds Unlimited

Wild Birds Unlimited is a popular destination for bird enthusiasts in San Francisco. They offer a wide range of bird feeders, birdhouses, bird baths, and bird food. Their knowledgeable staff can provide expert advice on which products are best for attracting specific bird species to your backyard.

You can visit their website here to learn more about their products and locations.

2. Cole Hardware

Cole Hardware is a local hardware store that also carries a selection of bird supplies. They offer a variety of bird feeders, bird baths, birdhouses, and bird food. Their knowledgeable staff can help you find the right products for your needs. Visit their website here to find a store near you.

3. Pet Food Express

While primarily known for their pet supplies, Pet Food Express also carries a range of bird supplies. They offer bird feeders, bird food, and other accessories. Their stores are conveniently located throughout San Francisco. You can find more information on their website here.

4. Online Retailers

If you prefer the convenience of shopping from home, there are several online retailers that offer a wide selection of bird supplies. Websites like Amazon, Chewy, and Walmart have a variety of bird feeders, bird food, and other bird-related products available for purchase.

Just make sure to read reviews and check customer ratings before making a purchase.

By visiting these stores or exploring online options, you can find the best bird supplies for attracting birds to your backyard in San Francisco. Remember to choose feeders and food that are appropriate for the specific bird species you hope to attract. Happy birdwatching!


Attracting songbirds to your yard with feeders provides enjoyment, stress relief, and a connection with nature – even in the busy city. Follow the tips in this guide to choose the right feeders, food, and other habitat elements to make your San Francisco space enticing for both resident and migrating birds.

With a little effort, you can create an urban oasis for winged visitors and enhance your quality of life through the magic of birdwatching right at home. The sight of goldfinches on a tube feeder or bushtits drinking from a fountain bath will brighten any day.

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