What do the birds eat?

Bird seed, suet, nuts, fruit and nectar all help birds when food is scarce or when extra energy is needed. The more variety you provide, they more types of birds you’ll attract.

Fruit

A favorite of Bluebirds, Sparrows, Orioles and Woodpeckers

To attract more of these birds, look for:

  • Seed blends that include dried fruits and berries like apples, raisins, blueberries, cherries and cranberries.
  • Suet cakes with fruits and berries.
  • Jellies with fruits and juices as ingredients.
  •  A spiked feeder or dish feeder where you can serve up sliced oranges.

Nectar

The main source of food for Orioles and Hummingbirds

The feeders are commonly seen in certain colors – although it makes little difference to the birds. To invite these birds look for:

  • Orange feeders for orioles. Fill them with nectar and jellies.
  • A spiked feeder or dish feeder that lets you serve oranges. Cut oranges in half and put them in the feeder.
  • Red feeders and nectar are usually made for hummingbirds. Fill hummingbird feeders with fresh nectar every 2 days.

Sunflower, Safflower and White MilletSeed

A smorgasbord for Chickadees, Cardinals, Doves, Grosbeaks, Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Sparrows, Titmice and Woodpeckers

  • Black Oil sunflower is a favorite of most birds. Its shell is softer than the seed people snack on, making it easy for birds to crack. Serve it up in hoppers and tube feeders with large portholes.
  • Safflower is a favorite with Cardinals. Squirrels don’t like it, so it’s a good deterrent if they’re raiding your feeders. Fill tray and hopper feeders with it to attract Cardinals and Grosbeaks.
  • Hang pressed seed cakes from hooks or wire for variety and almost no clean-up.

Nyjer or Thistle Seed

For attracting Goldfinches and Finches

  • Fill mesh bags, or specialty tube feeders. The tiny port holes and smaller perches on these feeders are preferred by these birds.

Nuts

Blue Jays, Woodpeckers and squirrels love to snack on them.

  • Specialty dispensers let you offer up nuts in the shell to keep squirrels away from bird feeders.
  • Seed blends with nuts are best served up in hopper, platform or tube feeders with large ports.

Insects

Packed with nutrition for bluebirds, woodpeckers, nuthatches, swallows, chickadees, kingfishers

  • Serve up mealworms in a shallow dish feeder.

Suet Cakes

Concentrated energy that helps birds during cold weather, migration, mating and nesting seasons.

  • Hang square, cage-like suet feeders from branches, or posts. The variety is endless. Birds can’t taste the difference, but they can’t resist the seed and fruit encased in energizing tallow.

What to Avoid

  • Seed that’s been contaminated by mold or dirty feeders
  • Rancid or old seed that’s gone bad
  • Corn and peanuts. Some birds, like ducks, jays, ravens and grosbeaks like corn and peanuts are popular with jays, chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers. But they’re more likely to become contaminated with aflatoxin than other feed, especially in moist or humid conditions. Serve only a day’s worth at a time. Open tray feeders are less likely to harbor moisture than tube feeders.
  • Milo or sorghum is a choice for ground-feeding birds. Not so much for feeder birds.
  • Golden millet, red millet, flax, wheat take up space in the bag, but birds mostly discard them.