Choosing Bird Food

Different Food for Different Birds

Americans feed about 30 million tons of seed to birds each year. While not all backyard songbirds are exclusively seed eaters, most include seeds in their diet some of the time. So the best way to begin attracting birds to your property is to offer them a wild bird seed mixture that includes a variety of kinds and sizes of seed. This will appeal to the largest number of bird species in your area.

As you become acquainted with the visitors to your feeder over the seasons, you will become aware of their different feeding habits. Some prefer certain seeds; some prefer animal protein; others prefer fruits. Some birds prefer to eat on or near the ground, rather than at suspended feeders. Eventually you may establish several bird feeders in different locations to serve particular species. Offering food year round encourages birds to stay and raise their families in your yard. Then they repay you by controlling pest insects on your landscape plants.

Who Eats What

Bluebirds: peanut butter/seed mix, fresh or dried fruit, peanut kernels; mealworms.
Cardinals: sunflower seeds, safflower, millet, fruits/nuts.
Catbirds: dried berries, peanut kernels, bread crumbs.
Chickadees: sunflower seed, peanuts, thistle seed, fruits/nuts, suet; mealworms.
Finches: sunflower seed, thistle seed, suet, millet, safflower, fruit.
Flycatchers: dried berries such as raisins.
Hummingbirds: nectar (sugar water).
Mockingbirds: suet, raisins, bread crumbs; fruit; mealworms
Nuthatches: suet, sunflower seed, peanut butter/nutmeats, pumpkin seeds.
Orioles: fruit, suet, peanut/suet mix, cracked corn, millet.
Purple Martins: feed exclusively on insects; appreciate egg shell grit.
Robins: fruit and berries, bread crumbs, suet, raisins, baked goods, mealworms.
Sparrows: millet, sunflower, corn, safflower, peanut hearts, baked goods.
Starlings: suet, kitchen scraps, cooked rice, cracked corn, millet, peanut hearts.
Tanagers: dried or fresh fruits, hummingbird nectar, baked goods, suet, nutmeats, sunflowers; mealworms.
Titmice: suet, sunflower seed, nutmeats, safflower, thistle seed, bread; mealworms.
Warblers: suet, peanut butter, fine-cracked corn, fruit, jelly, nutmeats; mealworms.
Waxwings: apple pieces, raisins, currants.
Woodpeckers: peanut/suet mix, nuts, sunflower, cracked corn; cheese, hummingbird nectar, mealworms.
Wrens: suet, cheese, fresh fruit, baked goods, peanut butter/seed mix, sunflower; mealworms.

see all questions...

Do you have a gardening question? Ask Nancy