What Foods for What Birds?

Bird seed is the hamburger of the bird-feeding world. The picture above shows Nyjer/Thistle seed, peanuts, millet, and cracked corn.
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This chart provides the general food preferences for the most common feeder birds of North America. Although there are no guaranteed methods for attracting certain birds to your feeders, the presence of water, adaquate habitat or cover, and the birds' preferred foods will enhance the attractiveness of your yard. Foods are listed in approximate order of preference.

Quail, pheasants Cracked corn, millet, wheat, milo
Pigeons, doves Millet, cracked corn, wheat, milo, niger, buckwheat, sunflower, baked goods
Roadrunner Meat scraps, hamburger, suet
Hummingbirds Plant nectar, small insects, sugar solution
Woodpeckers Suet, meat scraps, sunflower hearts/seed, cracked corn, peanuts, fruits, sugar solution
Jays Peanuts, sunflower, suet, meat scraps, cracked corn, baked goods
Crows, magpies, and nutcracker Meat scraps, suet, cracked corn, peanuts, baked goods, leftovers, dog food
Titmice, chickadees Peanut kernels, sunflower, suet, peanut butter
Nuthatches Suet, suet mixes, sunflower hearts and seed, peanut kernels, peanut butter
Wrens, creepers Suet, suet mixes, peanut butter, peanut kernels, bread, fruit, millet (wrens)
Mockingbirds, thrashers, catbirds Halved apple, chopped fruits, baked goods, suet, nutmeats, millet (thrashers), soaked raisins, currants, sunflower hearts
Robins, bluebirds, other thrushes Suet, suet mixes, mealworms, berries, baked goods, chopped fruits, soaked raisins, currants, nutmeats, sunflower hearts
Kinglets Suet, suet mixes, baked goods
Waxwings Berries, chopped fruits, canned peas, currants, raisins
Warblers Suet, suet mixes, fruit, baked goods, sugar solution, chopped nutmeats
Tanagers Suet, fruits, sugar solution, mealworms, baked goods
Cardinals, grosbeaks, pyrrhuloxias (a type of cardinal) Sunflower, safflower, cracked corn, millet, fruit
Towhees, juncos Millet, sunflower, cracked corn, peanuts, baked goods, nutmeats
Sparrows, buntings Millet, sunflower hearts, black-oil sunflower, cracked corn, baked goods
Blackbirds, starlings Cracked corn, milo, wheat, table scraps, baked goods, suet
Orioles Halved oranges, apples, berries, sugar solution, grape jelly, suet, suet mixes, soaked raisins, and currants
Finches, siskins Thistle (niger), sunflower hearts, black-oil sunflower seed, millet, canary seed, fruits, peanut kernels, suet mixes

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  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018