What to Feed Wild Birds


Tags: National Audubon Society, wild birds, bird feeders, bird food,

I want to feed the birds that visit my backyard, but I’m not sure what types of seed to set out. What do birds like best?

Birds at feederDifferent birds are attracted by different kinds of seed, so offering a variety will beckon a diverse mix of feathered friends. Just make sure the birdseed or food you choose is compatible with both the bird feeder and the birds you hope to attract.

Sunflower seeds. Many small birds prefer black oilseed, especially in northern latitudes. Large-beaked birds will eat striped sunflower seeds. Hulled sunflower seeds will appeal to the greatest variety: They will attract jays, red-bellied woodpeckers, finches, goldfinches, Northern cardinals, evening grosbeaks, pine grosbeaks, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches and grackles.

Millet. Most small-beaked ground-feeding birds love white and red millet. Both will attract quail, doves, juncos, sparrows, towhees, cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds.

Cracked corn. Medium cracked corn is about as popular with ground-feeding birds as millet, but it’s vulnerable to rot because each kernel’s interior easily soaks up moisture. Leave small amounts mixed with millet on feeding tables or in watertight hopper feeders. Avoid fine cracked corn because it quickly turns to mush, and coarse cracked corn because it’s too large for small-beaked birds. Medium cracked corn will attract pheasants, quail, doves, crows, jays, sparrows, juncos and towhees.

Milo, wheat and oats. Low-priced birdseed blends typically include a mixture of these agricultural grains. Most birds discard them in favor of other food, however, which then leaves the grains to accumulate under feeders and attract rodents. Ground-feeding birds in the Southwest will eat milo, as will pheasants, quail and doves.

11/12/2015 8:40:01 PM

FlyJ, you can buy sugar that says "cane sugar" on it. That's not GMO or at least not yet.

12/6/2014 7:19:14 PM

Mother Earth, would you please respond- you suggest nectar for humming birds made out of sugar, but I recently hears that all sugar beet in the USA is genetically modified now. Should we really be using this sugar? If it is devastating to human health-how on earth could it be okay for precious little birds? TX

mother earth news fair 2018 schedule


Next: August 4-5, 2018
Albany, OR

Whether you want to learn how to grow and raise your own food, build your own root cellar, or create a green dream home, come out and learn everything you need to know — and then some!