How to Attract Wild Birds – What Do Birds Eat

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“What Do Birds Eat” is a common question to research, but the answer isn't so simple! See our best tips here!

what do birds eat

We have had the most fun lately adding to our Bird Sanctuary, and observing these beautiful wild birds.

To attract a great population of birds, we soon realized that quality birdseed attracts more birds! See what we learned below.

We have been sitting outside in the mornings on our patio, along with our coffee and cameras, and are having a great time capturing pictures and looking up all the varieties of wild birds that stop in for a treat. If you missed it, we did build a large Bird Sanctuary as a center piece in the yard. We have quite a few bird feeders and water, so for us it was worth it to stock the feeders with quality seeds.

What Do Birds Eat?

Of course if you ask your nearest store employee this question, they might smile and point you to the pet food aisle, where you can find the large bags of bird seed. But honestly birds love to eat insects, grubs worms, seed, grasses, nuts , berries and more.

bird feeders

We have been feeding our little population of birds in our back yard for a while now, and obviously the mixed bird seed bags are great!

But as we kept adding to our bird feeder collection and got a bigger variety of birds visiting, we noticed a few things we didn't like about the economy birdseed mixes.

large tray feeders

First, we learned that birdseed is filled with filler seed. The birds don't eat and they just throw it on the ground making a mess.

Even though it seems cheaper to buy these larger mixed bags labeled “Wild Birdseed”, it's a waste of money when you consider a lot of it is not preferred (or maybe not even that nutritious) and the birds just drop it on the ground.


Second, birdseed might contain very little (or none) of the speciality ingredients birds love to eat, like mealworms. Those sound and look pretty gross, but to birds it's a special treat they won't just find in every birdfeeder!

Check our list below of the birdseed we have added to our bird sanctuary.

Specialty Foods

Of course if you're trying to attract specific birds like hummingbirds, you will need to supply the food they eat.

hummingbird feeder

You can check out our DIY Hummingbird Food (Nectar) Post here!

I love this little Hummingbird feeder, and look forward to more of them stopping by as it warms up!

jelly feeder

We also put in this jelly feeder to attract local Orioles. These beautiful birds are so colorful!


We found out it's best to just buy specific seed and mix it yourself. I wish there was a magic place that you could buy everything all in one place and it wouldn't be as expensive but there isn't.

  • Black oil sunflower seeds
  • Millet
  • Nyjer
  • Peanuts
  • Suet
  • Mealworms
  • Safflower seeds
  • Mixed birdseed
  • Nectar
  • Jelly
  • Peanut butter
  • Cracked corn
dried mealworms - What Do Birds Eat

It was actually surprising to us when we started getting deeper into researching what birds eat, how you really do get what you pay for.

We decided to invest some money into our birdseed and actually mix it ourselves to hopefully waste less, and also really offer the birds some great foods– and reasons to stay around our yard!

bird feeders

We went shopping and decide to mix a large amount of our own homemade birdseed ourselves. We did invest in a bin, to keep the squirrels out and also not attract unwanted rodents like field mice!

They love good quality birdseed too!! 🙂

birdseed - What Do Birds Eat

You can get a large bucket and this bird feeder/scoop that fills the feeders fast and easy.  Since we have so  many now, this is an essential for us! 

Our favorite feeder by far are the large tray feeders. We fill it full of no waste seed, mealworms and a mixture of dried cranberry and raisins. This attracts the most birds. Beware if you have dogs, the birds can not the raisin and Craisins down on the ground and can be harmful to your dog if they eat them.

suet feeder -What Do Birds Eat

We also love our suet feeders and the birds really seem to love the suet as well, it's probably our 2nd most popular feeder with the birds.


Many of these can be shipped to your door if you don't want to get out and shop.

  • 20lb Royal Wing Shell Free Mix – Includes Dehulled Millet, Sunflower Kernels, Peanuts, Mixed Feed Nuts, Dehulled Pumpkin Seeds for ingredients. 

5 lb Pennington Classic Shelled Peanuts

10lb White Proso Millet Bird Seed

Dried Mealworms for Wild Birds (any brand)



One last note- while your birds may have a great selection of birdseed, don't forget to add a watering component to your yard, or a birdbath you can keep fresh water in!

No need to have them all flying away to get a drink or cool off! 🙂


Crows & Magpies: meat scrapes, suet, peanuts and bread products.

Woodpeckers: suet, meat scrapes, insects, fruit, nuts, sunflower seed and sugar water

Robins, Blue Birds & Thrushes: suet, mealworms, berries, raisins, currents and nut meal.

Cardinals, Buntings & Grosbeaks: apple, suet, millet, sunflower seed, safflower seed and peanuts.

Thrashers & Mockingbirds: nuts, apples, suet and sunflower seeds.

Orioles: jelly, suet, sugar water, fruit, raisins, and orange halves.

Hummingbirds: Plant nectar and small insects but check out our homemade hummingbird food above.

Blue Jays: suet, peanuts, sunflower seeds and cracked corn.

Finches: nyjer, thistle, millet, sunflower, peanuts and suet.

Red headed Sparrow


Clean bird feeders and waterers regularly, including ground feeding stations and underneath the feeding area to eliminate the buildup of seed hulls or bird feces that can lead to contamination and disease outbreaks. Bird feeders can easily get dirty with weather changes as well. So this is a must to keep our bird friends healthy.

Brown Thrasher

I found this article from Perky Pet informative! While there are so many types of feeders on the market, and it get get overwhelming, you can easily narrow down which type you need based on where you live and the type of birds you're trying to attract to the yard.

For example, if you live in a region that has a large population of Hummingbirds and you're in their migration path, that may be a good choice for you! There are lots of options so head over to Perky Pet to check them out.

Note- this post is not sponsored by Perky Pet, but they have partnered with us for a previous post.

Thanks for Reading!

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