Wild Bird Food Preferences

What Do You Feed Wild Birds?

Robin and Berries

What do you feed the birds? Our handy wild bird food chart lists the type of seeds, nuts, and other foods are liked most by different types of birds.

Although birds can find food naturally, it's fine to offer these supplements. During times of extreme weather, extra bird food can provide a nutritional boost and provide a helping hand.

Your reward is the opportunity to attract some feathered friends to your backyard and garden—and enjoy watching wild birds from your window!

Click here for a larger PDF of the below Wild Bird Food Chart.

Read more about how to create a bird-friendly habit.

Learn about choosing the right bird feeders.

Reader Comments

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I want to feed birds but I'm concerned that more pigeons will come for food also. My neighborhood is overran with them. How can I make sure I'm not attracting them.

Pigeon towed

Hi, Venita: This is always a tough challenge. We assume that you are talking about hanging feeders, which is what you should be using. One solution is to hang the feeders on branches or poles that will not allow the pigeons to alight on nearby perches and sit on them to access the feeder. Another solution, although hard to do, is to put some sort of cage or large wire mesh around the feeder that will allow small birds through, but not pigeons. A third way is to get an anti-squirrel type of cannister feeder that slides down and covers up when too much weight–such as that of a pigeon–is on it. Good luck, and thanks for asking!


What is the best way to serve up the apples that some birds and raisins, nuts or any other food from the house?

Thanks for the chart!

Fantastic wild bird food chart you have there! Perhaps this could be expanded to include mealworms and other grubs as these are readily available in most shops and the birds go nuts for them.

I have stopped offering food

I have stopped offering food for the birds because I notice the goldfinches wouldn't touch the seedheads left for them, so I figure if they don't want to eat the healthy coneflowers and blazing stars, they don't need commercial offerings. And it worked, I see the same birds come into my yard as before and it's more fun because they are pecking through the weeds and really every surface has had a bird on it, quite hilarious to be doing the dishes and see a Carolina wren pop its head around the brick and climb up the house!

We have to take our feeders

We have to take our feeders down in the fall due to the number of bears in our area, but as soon as the bears go into hibernation we put the feeders back up.

I think we feed the birds in

I think we feed the birds in order to enjoy a little life and color during those long winter days. Maybe we do it as much for ourselves as we do for the birds. Either way I enjoy the birds, they enjoy my feed....win, win all around!!

Is there a certain date of

Is there a certain date of the year that we are suppose to stop feeding wild birds in the northeast section of the USA? Some people think they are able to find their own food. Please answer. Nancy Hullinger

There's no hard rule. Many

There's no hard rule. Many people choose to feed in the winter when birds' natural food is buried; other folks feed year-round to attract them closer. According to Audubon, feeding doesn't hurt the birds as they get their food from a variety of sources and they will migrate when they need to do, regardless.

speaking only for myself, I

speaking only for myself, I NEVER stop feeding the birds.

I keep about 8 feeders in the yard at all times, & go through about 500 POUNDS of seed a year on average.

I also feed the squirrels, which keeps them out of the bird feed.

It never occurred to me to

It never occurred to me to stop feeding birds. I should think they need food in the winter, even if they do fly around and find their own.

We shovel off the deck and put out a feeder heavy on sunflower seeds, and what a beautiful sight in the winter, blue jays and cardinals, juncos and sparrows. Looks like a Christmas card.

I've found most birds like sunflower seed and peanuts (in shell, or shelled, from a jar). Blue jays pick and choose the peanuts and 'swallow' one in their crops. They will hold a peanut with their toes and peck it open..... Cardinals have tiny beaks but I've watched them wrestle with a shell peanut trying to open it..... Smaller peanuts are eaten by all birds, I think. Unless the squirrels are out and hog all of them.

I never stop feeding them,

I never stop feeding them, they can gather their own food. I heard it take the stress of them when feeding little ones in the summer. It's not a must to stop feeding them, it's what u want to do !