What to Put in Bird Feeders

sunflower seeds
Sunflower Seeds, Lavoview, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sunflower seeds

Purchase as seeds with shells or no-mess sunflower hearts with the shells removed (the latter attract more bird species). Sunflower seeds are loved by the following bird species:

    • Cardinal
    • Chickadee
    • Dove
    • Finch
    • Grosbeak
    • Junco
    • Nuthatch
    • Redwing Blackbird
    • Sparrow
    • Woodpecker
millet
Millet, Steven Jackson Photography, Flickr

Millet

Loved by groundfeeding birds, millet comes in white or red (with most birds preferring white). Millet will attract a number of bird species, including:

    • Cardinal
    • Dove
    • Junco
    • Sparrow
    • Starling
    • Thrasher
    • Wren
    • Finch
corn
Corn, Suat Eman, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Corn

Many birds love corn; ideally, corn should be cracked (broken into smaller pieces) to make it easier to eat. The bird species that are most likely to visit feeders with corn include:

    • Blackbird
    • Cowbird
    • Dove
    • Finch
    • Sparrow
    • Quail
    • Grackle
    • Jay
    • Pheasant
    • Other smaller birds if the corn is cracked
peanuts birdfeeder
Peanuts with Bird, Patou, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Peanuts

Peanuts, a highly nourishing food, go moldy easily so special feeders are required to keep them dry, or a small amount can be put out each day rather than leaving a large batch exposed to the elements for several days at a time; peanuts are the favourite of many different birds, particularly woodpeckers. Bird species that are attracted to peanut feeders include:

    • Blackbird
    • Cardinal
    • Chickadee
    • Crow
    • Jay
    • Oriole
    • Nuthatch
    • Sparrow
    • Titmouse
    • Woodpecker
    • Wren
berries
Berries, Ambro, FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Fruit

Fruit may include cherries, berries, or chopped pieces of larger fruits (i.e., apples, peaches, etc.). Bird species that love fruit include:

    • Catbird
    • Grosbeak
    • Jay
    • Mockingbird
    • Oriole
    • Robin
    • Starling
    • Tanager
    • Thrush
    • Waxwing
    • Woodpecker
    • Wren
suet
Suet, Noël Zia Lee, Flickr

Suet

Suet comprises beef fat either on its own or combined with other foods such as seeds, fruit, or nuts; suet provides much-needed fat to guard against lean times. Bird species that are drawn to suet feeders include:

    • Bushtit
    • Catbird
    • Cardinal
    • Chickadee
    • Nuthatch
    • Oriole
    • Sparrow
    • Starling
    • Titmouse
    • Woodpecker
nyger
Nyger (Thistle) Seed, Sarniebill1, Flickr

Nyger/Nyjer (Thistle) Seed

These skinny seeds, imported from Africa, are a little more expensive and require special feeders that prevent seed from falling out; Nyger doesn’t grow well in North America, so spilled seeds aren’t likely to grow like weeds and take over the garden. Bird species that love Nyger include:

    • Chickadee
    • Finch
    • Siskin
    • Sparrow

safflower seed

Safflower Seed

Safflower seed is disliked by grackles and cowbirds, but loved by many other bird species. Bird species that are attracted to feeders with safflower seed include:

    • Cardinal
    • Chickadee
    • Dove
    • Finch
    • Grosbeak
    • Sparrow

For gardening articles, visit the Gardening and Plants page.

References:

    • Classic Collection of North American Birds. (n.d.). “Birds of North America: Attracting Birds.” Birds-of-North-America.net.
    • Madison Audubon Society. (n.d.). “How to Attract Birds to Your Yard.” MadisonAudubon.org.

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