What Do Birds Eat?

The various families of finch-like birds with classic wedge-shaped bills feed largely on seeds, but many other types of birds indulge in this energy rich food.

Hummingbirds constitute the largest family of nectivores, with approximately 350 species, all in the New World. The majority of birds rely on insects for at least part of their diets.

Birds have evolved a wide variety of adaptations for feeding on fish. Beak shapes are highly varied correlating with the different behavioral adaptations. Fish-eating birds tend to have rear facing hooks on their tongues and a well developed proventriculus , the anterior chamber of the stomach.

What do birds mainly eat?

The different types of foods most birds naturally eat include insects (worms, grubs, and mosquitos), plant material (seeds, grasses, flowers), small berries or fruit, and nuts. Larger birds like hawks and vultures may also eat small animals like rodents and snakes.

What do birds eat daily?

A wide range of bird seed types..Insects, grubs, larvae, and worms..Plants (especially when nothing else is available).Fruits, vegetables, and nuts..Pollen or nectar..Small mammals.

What is the best food for birds?

Black oil sunflower seed appeals to the greatest number of birds. Offer sunflower seeds, nyjer (thistle) seeds, and peanuts in separate feeders. When using blends, choose mixtures containing sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn—the three most popular types of birdseed.

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Serving suggestion: Bake clean shells at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Birds that eat melon, pumpkin and squash seeds: Northern cardinal, evening grosbeak , red-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse.

Courtesy Debbie Kaiman TillinghastWhite-breasted nuthatch eating peanut butter on a pinecone Serving suggestion: Drop a dollop in a dried-out orange half left from oriole season, or spread over a pinecone . Birds that eat raisins: Eastern bluebird, northern cardinal, gray catbird, northern mockingbird , orioles, American robin, scarlet tanager, brown thrasher, wood thrush, cedar waxwing, and red-bellied and red-headed woodpecker . Serving suggestion: Soak raisins in warm water first so theyre soft and easier for birds to bite.

Have you ever wondered what a bird eats in the wild? Obviously bread is not found in the wild, nor should it EVER, under ANY circumstance be fed to a wild bird (see https://www.aiwc.ca/do-not-feed-the-ducks/). So what do they eat? How do their diets differ in the winter than in the summer? Also, how do they access their food? Do they have special adaptations to allow them to eat certain things? Hopefully this blog will answer some questions you might have about a birds diet, and how a few species have evolved with their diets!

You’re always asking about what and how to feed your garden birds – such as which is the best type of food to provide or whether there’s anything to avoid. Whatever food you use, always make sure it’s fresh!

Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows , dunnocks , finches , reed buntings and collared doves , while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds . Wheat and barley grains are often included in seed mixtures, but they’re really only suitable for pigeons , doves and pheasants , which feed on the ground and rapidly increase in numbers, frequently deterring the smaller species.

Also avoid any mixture containing green or pink lumps as these are dog biscuit, which can only be eaten when soaked. They’re a particular favourites with goldfinches and siskins and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches and great spotted woodpeckers too. Remember, peanuts can be high in a natural toxin, which can kill birds, so always buy from a reputable dealer, such as our online shop, to guarantee freedom from aflatoxin.

Warning: Home-made fat balls can go soft and rancid in warm summer weather, and should be avoided. Further reduce any risk by only providing small amounts that get eaten quickly and by using an appropiate mealworm feeder . Tip: Soak dried mealworms in warm water for 20-60 minutes before putting out to provide valuable moisture content and make it easier for younger birds to digest.

Did you know meaty tinned dog and cat food are a good substitute to earthworms during the warm, dry part of the summer when worms are beyond the birds‘ reach? Cooked rice, brown or white (without salt added) benefits all sorts of birds during severe winter weather. Any dry breakfast cereal makes for useful bird food, although you need to be careful only to put out small amounts at a time.

And make sure there’s a supply of drinking water nearby, since it quickly turns into pulp once wet. Warning: never cook porridge oats, this makes them glutinous and could harden around a bird’s beak. Unlike humans, birds need high levels of saturated fat, such as raw suet and lard.

What Can Birds Eat From the Kitchen?

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

What do birds eat

You’re always asking about what and how to feed your garden birds – such as which is the best type of food to provide or whether there’s anything to avoid. Whatever food you use, always make sure it’s fresh!

Other seeds and nuts

There are different mixes for feeders, for bird tables and for ground feeding. The better mixtures contain plenty of flaked maize, sunflower seeds and peanut granules.Small seeds, such as millet, attract mostly house sparrows, dunnocks, finches, reed buntings and collared doves, while flaked maize is taken readily by blackbirds. Tits and greenfinches favour peanuts and sunflower seeds. Mixes that contain chunks or whole nuts are suitable for winter feeding only. Pinhead oatmeal is excellent for many birds. Wheat and barley grains are often included in seed mixtures, but they’re really only suitable for pigeons, doves and pheasants, which feed on the ground and rapidly increase in numbers, frequently deterring the smaller species.

Black sunflower seeds

These are an excellent year-round food, and in many areas are even more popular than peanuts. The oil content is higher in black than striped ones, and so they are much better. Sunflower hearts (the husked kernels) are a popular no-mess food.

Nyjer seeds

These are small and black, rich in fat and with a high oil content. They do need a special type of seed feeder however. They’re a particular favourites with goldfinches and siskins and are popular with tits, greenfinches, house sparrows, nuthatches and great spotted woodpeckers too.

Peanuts

Crushed or grated nuts attract robins, dunnocks and even wrens. Nuthatches and coal tits may hoard peanuts.Never put out loose peanuts, during spring or summer, as these pose a choking hazard if they are fed to chicks, place whole peanuts in a suitable mesh feeder.

Live foods and other insect foods

Fat balls and other fat-based food bars are excellent winter food.If they are sold in nylon mesh bags, always remove the bag before putting the fat ball out – the soft mesh can trap and injure birds.You can make your own bird cake by:

Dog and cat food

Did you know meaty tinned dog and cat food are a good substitute to earthworms during the warm, dry part of the summer when worms are beyond the birds‘ reach? Blackbirds readily take dog food, and even feed it to their chicks.

Rice and cereals

Cooked rice, brown or white (without salt added) benefits all sorts of birds during severe winter weather. Pigeons, doves and pheasants may eat uncooked rice but it’s less likely to attract other species.Any dry breakfast cereal makes for useful bird food, although you need to be careful only to put out small amounts at a time. And make sure there’s a supply of drinking water nearby, since it quickly turns into pulp once wet.Uncooked porridge oats are also fine for a number of birds.

Fats, margarines and oils

Lard and beef suet on their own are fine as they re-solidify after warming. And as they are pure fat, it’s not as suitable for bacteria to breed on.

Milk and coconut

Birds can digest fermented dairy products, such as cheese. Mild grated cheese can be a good way of attracting robins, wrens and dunnocks.Give fresh coconut only, in the shell. Rinse out any residues of the sweet coconut water from the middle of the coconut before hanging it out to stop the build-up of black mildew.

Take part in Big Garden Birdwatch

Help us to find out how our garden birds are faring by counting the birds that land in your garden or local park for an hour at the end of January. What will you see?

Household scraps for birds

Feeding garden birds doesn’t need to be expensive – many of the things you throw away provide suitable food for birds!