Backyard Birdsbirds

What to Feed Wild Birds

What to Feed Wild Birds & Other Critters in Your Garden

What Wild Birds Want and Need to Survive the Winter

Food to Provide: Many of the birds we see in winter are seed eaters. Some people spend a lot of money on bird feed mixes, which birds don’t even like. Most of the bird feed mixes use “junk” seed, which the birds simply toss aside to get to the “good stuff.” The junk seed will be thrown to the ground and attract mice and rats.

Plants for birds: Seed isn’t the only way to feed birds. Many native plants serve the same purpose.

Calcium is an important nutrient for birds, and here are some easy and FREE ways to provide it to them.

Humming Birds: When boiling eggs, save the water, mix the water with about 1/4 cup of sugar per each cup of humming bird feed, let it cool and add it to the feeder. This will give hummingbirds an extra boost of calcium that is especially helpful during nesting season.All other Wild Birds: Save the shells whenever cooking with eggs. Rinse them well and put them in the oven set at a low temperature. When they are dry, crumble them (a rolling pin works great) and add them to the birdseed. Your wild birds will cherish this food.

Storing Seed: Store them in the garage in mouse-proof metal trash cans. In humid climates, you may want to store the bags indoor as they may get moldy outside. Moldy seeds cause fatal diseases, such as aspergillosis.

Black Oil Sunflower Bird Seed

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds attract small feeder birds to your yard. A year round energy source for birds. I found that the birds seem to prefer black sunflower to the grey-and-white striped.They are softer shelled, hence easier to crack open. They’re also cheaper than the grey-and-white ones.

Attracts the following birds

Black Oil Sunflower Bird Seed

Nyjer Thistle Feeder

Nyjer Thistle Feeder with Tray will attract

Goldfinches love this seed. Nyjer is a tiny black seed. Nyjer is also expensive, so you won’t want to waste it. Buy a hanging tube with tiny holes, designed especially for Nyjer, and hang it where you can see it from your best viewing window. Goldfinches will become very tame and won’t mind your standing two feet from them, while they eat.

Other Birds:

Safflower Seed

Squirrels don’t like these seeds, nor do grackles, blue jays, or starlings.

This seed attracts:

Sunflower Hearts


Sunflower hearts provide a high energy boost for almost any bird species year round. Especially good during migration season. Send your birds on their way, or welcome them back with this premium no-waste seed.

White Millet

A favorite of many kinds of colorful birds, including cardinals, doves, quails and buntings. This clean, beautiful seed provides a good base for your custom mix.I scatter it on the ground for:

Canary Seed

A smaller seed for the smaller beaked birds in your garden.

  • Goldfinches and siskins love canary seed. Remember, in order to attract a variety of birds to your garden, you need a variety of seeds.

In Shell Peanuts

High energy and highly entertaining!

  • Birds and squirrels alike will love opening these big treats.

(Note: Peanuts are often contaminated with aflatoxin, a fungal toxin. Aflatoxin is carcinogenic and causes liver damage in birds, other animals, and even humans. Roasting reduces aflatoxin but does not eliminate it entirely. North American peanut producers are currently working on eliminating contaminated peanuts from their products. Especially peanuts with dark spots on them should be considered suspect, but even those that look clean and perfect could possibly be contaminated.

Food for Insect-eating Birds (such as Bluebirds)

Suet Cakes

High Energy. Ideal for suet and seed eating birds year round. Each cake is 9.25 oz. Sold by the case: 16 cakes per case.

Attracts These Colorful Songbirds: Cardinals, Chickadees, Goldfinches, Juncos, Kinglets, Nuthatches, Purple Finches, Siskins, Tanagers, Thrushes, Titmice, Warblers, Woodpeckers and Wrens.

Instructions for use: Place suet cake in suet cage and hang approximately 6′ off ground.

Critters Wildlife Food

Got furry friends too? Don’t forget these guys in your feeding plan.

Whole Corn is liked by many critters, including squirrels, deer and some larger birds – such as cranes.

Feeding squirrels separately can keep them away from your feeders.

Gordon Ramel

Gordon is an ecologist with two degrees from Exeter University. He's also a teacher, a poet and the owner of 1,152 books. Oh - and he wrote this website.

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