Just like people, different types of birds have different taste preferences when it comes to what they like to eat. Thankfully, there are a variety of different types of seeds, and seed mixes ready-made so backyard bird feeding is easy! The only hard part is figuring out which type of bird likes what seed, and what kind of feeder the seed should go in!
There are four main types of feed that go into bird foods: seeds, nuts, grains, and fruits. Seeds include things like sunflower, thistle, and safflower seeds. Grains include corn and milo. A variety of nuts and fruits are used in bird foods with peanuts and dried berries being the most common. In addition to those four, some birds enjoy suet which is a fat that is found in beef. Suet is generally mixed with nuts or seeds to make it more palatable. There are also a couple of types of birds that enjoy sipping sugar water.
Listed below are some of the most common birds people attempt to attract to their feeders, and what those birds enjoy eating. This list is by no means complete, and you may find your birds enjoy things that aren't listed!
Birds Feed Grain Seeds
Blackbirds- Cracked corn and milo
Blue Jays- Sunflower seeds, cracked corn, suet, nuts, and fruit
Cardinals- Sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and nuts
Chickadee- Sunflower seeds, suet, and nuts
Doves- Cracked corn and millet
Gold Finch- Sunflower seeds and thistle
House Finch- Sunflower seeds and thistle
Hummingbirds- Sugar water
Mocking Birds- Suet and Fruit
Oriels- Fruit and sugar water
Quail- Cracked corn and milo
Sparrows- Sunflower seeds, thistle, and millet
Thrushes- Suet and fruit
Woodpeckers- Sunflowers, suet, and peanuts
Now that you have an idea of what the birds you want to attract eat, now you need to figure out what kind of feeder to put your bird food in and where to place it!
Sugar water feeders are perhaps the most well-known feeder. Often sold specifically as hummingbird they come in a variety of styles and prices. Sugar water feeders can be hung anywhere, but you will attract more birds if they are close to bright flowering plants that naturally attract the birds.
Platform and ground feeders- Platform feeders are open, flat feeders that are raised off the ground. If the feeders are low to the ground then ground feeders like doves and quail will use them. If the platforms are raised then other birds will use them. Any kind of seed or seed/nut/grain/fruit mix can be placed on a platform feeder. They are especially handy for feeding fresh cut-up fruit.
Tube Feeders- These feeders are generally narrow cylinders that have many small openings. These feeders are perfect for holding thistle, and the small birds that like to feed on it. Place in a sheltered location so the little birds can rest and eat.
Hopper Feeders- Hoppers are large tub feeders that have a bottom platform. The seed spills out onto the bottom platform as the birds eat. This style of the feeder is great for larger birds and the foods they like to eat. These feeders can be hung anywhere, but most birds prefer a sheltered location.
Suet Feeders- Suet feeders are generally baskets with a hinged door. Pre-made suet cakes are placed inside the feeders for the birds. Hang directly on trees, or other flat vertical surfaces.
No matter what type of food you choose to feed, or the style of feeder you dish it out in, be sure to keep all your feeders clean! Feeders should be cleaned in a mild bleach solution as needed. Keep an eye out for spoiled or molded bird feed. If your feeders and seed get wet they will need to be cleaned out.