Feeding wild birds in your backyard is quite pleasing. Not only does it allow you to observe wild birds closely, but you can also help them to sustain their populations, particularly in urban areas. It could even be a great way to introduce various bird species to your children.
Many wild birds require an adequate amount of food to survive harsh winter. During summer, they need extra energy to feed and raise their young. If you’re really willing to help them get food, you need to know how to feed wild birds.
This page is a supplement to our article on different food sources of wild birds. Once you finish reading here, we recommend you take a look at that article to learn what wild birds consume to survive in nature and which food is their favorite.
How Can You Feed Wild Birds in Your Backyard?
As you’ve already known, you need to choose the right food, put specific bird-friendly feeders, and keep unwanted birds and predators away to feed wild birds in your backyard. Now, we’re going to discuss what to do in detail.
#Strategy – 1: Choose the Right Food
The prerequisite of feeding wild birds in your backyard is choosing the right food for them. There are a lot of foods out there, like peanuts, nectar, suet, mealworms, and fruits, but the seed is the most common food for wild birds.
If you’re going to choose seeds for wild birds, remember that all seeds are not equally created. You need to opt for one wisely. For your good information, cardinals, grosbeaks, chickadees, nuthatches, and large finches love to eat black oil sunflower seeds.
On the other hand, small finch species prefer sunflower hearts and nyjer (thistle) seeds. Some other wild birds are out there, including towhees, sparrows, doves, and juncos, as well as small and large finches, like to consume white proso millet.
If you’re willing to feed these wild birds their favorite seeds, you can purchase the Kaytee Black Oil Sunflower for wild birds. To feed small finches, buy the Lyric Nyjer Seed. For millet consumers, the White Millet Bird Seed could be the best. (N.B. All links take you to Amazon.)
Most wild birds eat peanuts, excluding hummingbirds and small finches. The most common birds that enjoy peanuts are crows, dark-eyed juncos, grackles, ravens, doves, jays, northern cardinals, towhees, wrens, and tits.
Moderately large wild birds, such as titmice, chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and more, prefer shelled (whole) peanuts. However, you should offer unshelled or cracked peanuts to small peanut-eating birds, including jays, tits, wrens, and towhees.
Once you decide to feed wild birds in your garden, buy peanuts from local stores. Or, you can also purchase the Kaytee Peanuts for Wild Birds from Amazon. To feed woodpeckers, we recommend the Lyric Fruit & Nut Wild Bird Food (the link takes you to Amazon).
Hummingbirds in the United States enjoy drinking nectar. The nectar recipe is pretty simple; just mix four parts warm water with one part sugar in a bowl. Then, stir the mixture when boiling. Once it gets boiled, take it off the stove and let it be cool thoroughly before use.
If you’re looking for a more appropriate option, we recommend you purchase nectar in liquid or powder form. In this case, the Perky-Pet Hummingbird Original Instant Nectar from Amazon could be what you’re actually looking for.
Many wild birds, like several woodpecker species, northern flickers, chickadees, wrens, titmice, starlings, nuthatches, and some finch species, love to eat suet. Some of them don’t mind suet with peanut butter or bark butter.
If you’re willing to offer suet to wild birds, smear some suet on the side of trees or logs on the ground. Be conscious of squirrels because they love suet. Fill the narrow cracks and small holes in trees with suet so wild birds eat them by using their beaks.
Now, you might be wondering where to find suet. You’ll simply be able to find suet in your nearby grocery stores or e-commerce shops. To get suet from Amazon, we recommend you purchase the C & S Suet Dough made of beef suet, corn, roasted peanuts, oats, and soy oil.
Bluebirds, crows, wagtails, kookaburras, wrens, robins, chickadees, woodpeckers, and magpies always appreciate insects, especially mealworms. Every time you give mealworms to these wild birds, make sure to offer them fresh ones.
To offer mealworms to wild birds, just take a bowl and put some mealworms in it. Once wild birds see the mealworms, they snatch them up. Keep in mind that you should keep the worms away from the direct sun to avoid their death from overheating.
Don’t leave mealworms outside below 40 degrees in winter because the cold can lead them to premature death. In order to purchase live mealworms, visit local pet stores. Want to get dried mealworms at home? Purchase the Non-GMO Dried Mealworms from Amazon.
There might be no wild birds that don’t love eating fruits. Orioles and woodpeckers like oranges. Robins, catbirds, and thrushes are usually attracted to apples. Besides, mockingbirds and orioles enjoy raisins, oranges, bananas, and apples.
Having a wide variety of fruits is simple. Purchase some of them from nearby fruit shops. Once you’ve bought some fruits, chop them into small pieces so that the wild birds can eat them comfortably. In terms of oranges, cut them in half and nail them to trees.
07. Kitchen Items
If you’re willing to feed wild birds in your yard, you can offer them cooked food, for example, hard-boiled eggs, cooked rice, salads, and stale cookie scraps. You can also provide kitchen scraps to some wild birds, including crows, ravens, jackdaws, cowbirds, etc.
You can also share a lot of kitchen items with wild birds. We have published an article on feeding birds from the kitchen. If you read that article, you’ll be able to learn more than 10 foods that you can offer wild birds in your garden.
Wild birds require a lot of water to drink. You can provide them fresh water in a container or a birdbath. Don’t you even have a birdbath in your yard? Check the VivoHome Antique Outdoor Garden Bird Bath on Amazon.
In addition, many wild birds not only drink water from birdbaths but also bathe and clean their feathers. During winter, the water of your birdbath could turn into hard ice. The Gesail Birdbath Deicer on Amazon could be the key.
#Strategy – 2: Choose the Feeders for Specific Birds
In order to feed wild birds, you need to choose the feeders that are easy to fill, easy to clean, made of sturdy materials, and not coming with sharp edges. In other words, the feeders should be user-friendly to various wild birds.
01. Platform Feeders for Large or Ground Feeding Birds
Platform feeders, also known as tray feeders, are feeders made of a tray with a roof above. These feeders have holes in the bottom or sides for drainage. They’re suitable for cardinals, jays, doves, and sparrows to eat chopped fruits, peanuts, and seeds.
If you’re willing to have a platform feeder, we recommend you purchase the Nature’s Way Platform Bird Feeder from Amazon. Once you’ve purchased it, fill it with seeds, peanuts, or chopped fruits and hang it on trees or poles, at least 10 to 12 inches above.
02. Tube Feeders for Small Birds
Tube feeders look like tubes, designed with large holes and short perches. These feeders are the best for small birds. Short perches don’t allow large birds to eat from these feeders. A variety of seeds, particularly black oil sunflower seeds are best suited for these feeders.
Many wild birds, such as chickadees, grosbeaks, sparrows, and some finch species eat from tube feeders. If you’re looking for a quality tube feeder, the Droll Yankees Squirrel-Proof Bird Feeder from Amazon is highly recommended.
03. Nectar Feeders for Hummingbirds
Nectar feeders are mainly designed for hummingbirds. These feeders are equipped with a tubular shape and small feeding ports. A wide variety of hummingbird species come to drink nectar from various nectar feeders in many backyard birders’ gardens.
If you’re looking for a quality nectar feeder, we recommend you purchase the More Birds Ruby Hummingbird Feeders from Amazon. This feeder can hold up to 10 fluid ounces of nectar. It also has a built-in ant moat that prevents ants from reaching the feeder.
04. Suet Feeders for Woodpeckers and Allies
Suet feeders are mainly square wire cages that can hold hard suet. Woodpeckers and other wild birds, including chickadees, northern flickers, wrens, titmice, nuthatches, and some finch species, love to eat from suet feeders.
If you’re willing to have a quality suet feeder, we suggest purchasing the More Birds Suet Feeder from Amazon. Make sure to set multiple suet feeders in your backyard to avoid conflict between small and large suet eaters.
05. Hopper Feeders for a Decorative Look
Hopper feeders come with a stylish and attractive outlook to enhance the beauty of your backyard. These feeders can hold a wide variety of seeds, and small and medium-sized birds can eat them from these feeders.
Looking for a beautiful but sturdy hopper feeder for your backyard wild birds? The Woodlink Absolute II Squirrel Resistant Bird Feeder from Amazon is highly recommended. This feeder is made of robust powder-coated steel.
06. Window Feeders for Close Observation
If you’re willing to let your children know about different types of wild birds, you should mount a window feeder (if possible, multiple) on your window. A wide variety of songbirds will come to your feeders to eat seeds, nuts, and fruits, whatever you offer them.
Are you looking for a quality window feeder with strong suction cups? Nature’s Hangout Window Bird Feeder could be what you actually need. This feeder is made of high-transparency acrylic and comes with 3 suction cups with 3 extras.
#Strategy – 3: Set Up and Take Care of the Feeders
When you’re going to feed wild birds, choosing the right food and feeders is not enough. You need to set the feeders in the right place and regularly take care of them. Wild birds may not come to your dirty or moldy feeders.
01. Choose the Right Location
When it comes to choosing the right location for your feeders, set the feeders in a place that protects them from the wind. You should also hang the feeder near trees and bushes so that the wild birds can hide when predators come.
Besides, you can place a bird feeder pole in your backyard to hang multiple feeders. In this case, the Bolite Bird Feeding Station from Amazon is our recommendation. If you’re dealing with nectar feeders, mount them in the shade so the sugar solution will remain fresh for longer.
02. Mount the Feeders Perfectly
Every feeder has a unique mounting system. That’s why you should follow the mounting instructions of the manufacturer which feeders you’ve purchased. If you made feeders by yourself, make sure to mount them securely.
You may need to hang your feeders from a shepherd’s hook. Maybe, you’ll need to mount them to a post, hang from tree branches, or place them on flat surfaces. In addition, if you purchase feeders with suction cups, you may have to attach them to your windows.
03. Clean and Refill the Feeders
Setting up the feeders in the right place is not enough if you don’t clean them regularly. Wild birds may not like your dirty or moldy feeders. If you hang nectar feeders, clean them every other day to discourage bacterial growth.
When it comes to cleaning platform and tube feeders, make sure to clean them twice a week. On the other hand, hopper feeders require cleaning once a week. If the temperature goes above 90-degree Fahrenheit, clean the feeders more frequently.
#Strategy – 4: Keep Unwanted Birds and Predators Away
Once you’ve mounted bird feeders for wild birds, make sure to keep unwanted birds and predators away. Otherwise, wild birds won’t feel safe coming to your feeders.
01. Unwanted Birds
Many birders consider brown-headed cowbirds and house sparrows as unwanted birds. If you want to avoid these birds, don’t put white proso millet in your feeders. You should also set tube feeders to prevent large birds and birds of prey from eating from them.
02. Ants and Bees
The sugar-rich nectar can attract ants and bees. That’s why you should use hanging hummingbird feeders rather than window hummingbird ones. You can also hang an ant guard like this for your hummingbird feeders (the link takes you to Amazon).
According to ABCBirds, cats kill around 2.4 billion birds every year in the United States. In order to protect wild birds from cats, choose tube feeders so that cats cannot get access. Keep the feeders near dense foliage so that they can hide when cats are going to attack them.
04. Mice and Rats
Discarded seeds often attract mice and rate. If you minimize the amount of discarded seeds, you can keep them away. Use a seed catcher tray like this on Amazon under the tube feeders. Get rid of dried seeds that are no longer attractive to wild birds.
In order to keep squirrels away from wild birds, consider squirrel-proof bird feeders. The Perky-Pet Squirrel-Be-Gone Wild Bird Feeder from Amazon is our recommendation. You can also use a dome-shaped piece of plastic over or under your bird feeders.
Frequently Asked Questions
01. Is it necessary to take note of how much you’re feeding to wild birds?
If you want to avoid wasting food, you should take note of the amount of food you offer to wild birds. Those birders who don’t take the note may overfeed them or reduce the amount unexpectedly.
02. What is the best way to feed wild birds?
The best way to feed wild birds is to offer them seed mixes in multiple platform or hopper feeders. For hummingbirds, make sure to provide nectar feeders filled with a fresh batch of nectar every other day.
03. How do I feed birds without a bird feeder?
You can grow native plants that produce seeds and nuts. You can also provide wild birds a consistent source of freshwater, like setting up a birdbath or a heated birdbath in winter. For hummingbirds, planting red and yellow flower plants is necessary.
04. What should you not feed wild birds?
Some toxic foods are out there that you should never offer wild birds. The list includes avocado, caffeine, chocolate, fat, fruit pits, onions, garlic, spicy food, and salty food, like popcorn. For further information, you can read our article on what birds should not eat
Feeding wild birds is amazing. You can not only feed them offering their favorite foods in various bird feeders, but you can also plant seed-bearing, nectar-bearing, and fruit trees in your backyard to encourage them to come to your yard all year round.
However, we hope you can understand what to do to feed wild birds in your yard. If you have any experience in feeding wild birds or face any problems regarding feeding wild birds, you should feel free to comment below.