Five years ago our family moved out of Manhattan to Palisades, New York, 30 miles north on the Hudson River. One of the great joys of living there is that it is teaming with wildlife. Among this host of fauna, I’m most fond of the wild birds that I keep happy with a daily feeding of nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, I’ve been unimpressed with the many birdfeeders that are commonly available. Most look more like cages and lack any design merit.
When I saw the Peanut Birdfeeder in the Design Within Reach catalog, it looked way too beautiful to actually work. I was skeptical, but decided to spend the $90 to give it a try.
At first, no one showed. A failure, I thought. It took a couple days for birds to trust this bizarre, Sputnik-like orb but finally I saw it swinging on the branch, evidence that one brave species had given it a try. Now hungry blue jays, cardinal, finches, chickadees, nuthatches and woodpeckers are regular customers. Their natural air traffic control system assures that they all get their share.
The feeder is made from all-natural clay, is six inches in diameter and has four flexible perches. It’s available in white, pale blue and lime colors. A real plus is that the slick glazed surface makes it difficult for intruding squirrels to maneuver. It’s weather proof and comes with a galvanized hanging wire and a rubber tree protector. Holding 500 grams of nuts, its unique feeding slot only allows small amounts of peanuts to be available at a time. Functionally, it is a joy to use. The top slides up the cable for refilling then sits back down on its base when hanging. Gravity and a small nylon O-ring on the cable keep it all in place.
Gavin Christman and Kate Knapp of the U.K. firm Green & Blue designed this brilliant product and I congratulate them every time I use it. I love it, my birds love it, and it is the coolest looking thing in our garden.
The “Yes to Less” rating is based on three criteria: beauty, ingenuity, and functionality. Designs can earn as many as five stars (“Flawless”), or as few as one (“Clueless.” )
Readers are invited to nominate design examples– from the brilliant to the egregious–for Carbone’s consideration.