wikiHow to Feed the Birds

Feeding the birds is not just tossing scraps out the door or throwing crumbs to city pigeons. If you provide the right feed your garden will soon be filled with colourful and chirping birds and you will be doing them a favour by providing them with food. Learn to provide for the native birds in your backyard. A lot of family fun is guaranteed.


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    Purchase a seed feeder. Do some research to find out what types of birds live in your area. Also find out what type of seed to buy using the links below. Purchase a feeder to dispense the seed. (Again, do some research; there are hundreds of different types of feeders to choose from: platform feeders, tube feeders, etc.) Some of the more expensive feeders have "baffles" that prevent squirrels and other pests from eating from them. Many feeders are also made to dispense a certain seed, or for a certain species. For example, "thistle socks" are made to contain thistles only, and can only be used by goldfinches. Clean the feeders once a week with soap and water.
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    Purchase a nectar feed. If you want to attract hummingbirds, you can set up a nectar feeder. "Nectar" is a solution with a sugar-water ratio of 1:4. Do not fill the feeders with too much nectar, and take care to clean your nectar feeder in the summer; sugar can ferment and kill the birds.
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    Purchase the right feed. Do some researching on the types of birds you have in your location and find out what they eat. Some birds eat seeds such as sunflower, some eat fruit such as berries whilst others eat types of bugs such as mealworms. You can get wild bird feed from a pet store which are suitable for most native birds.
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    Provide fresh water for the birds. Most birds are attracted to the sound of water and it's always good to provide some water for the birds to drink on a hot day. You can buy a bird bath with a faucet or make your own dripping system. During winter you can purchase a heated bird bath if it gets quite cold.
    • To make a dripping system fill a shallow dish with water and punch a small hole in the bottom of a bucket, fill the bucket with water and hang it from a branch or a supporting structure. Fill a shallow dish with water. Punch a small hole in the bottom of a bucket. Fill the bucket with water, and hang from a branch or supporting structure. The water should drip and not pour into the shallow dish.
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    Provide peanuts for some birds. Many birds, such as jays and nuthatches, enjoy peanuts. String the shells together. Don't offer peanuts in the spring and summer, as parents will offer these to baby birds, which will choke on them.
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    Provide suet to the birds. Suet is a huge source of protein and fat, and is very helpful in the winter. You can buy it in slabs, or make your own. Nail or attach with mesh to the trunk of a tree. Don't offer suet in the summer, as it can go rancid.
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    Provide fresh fruit for the birds. Fresh fruit, as well as jelly, is popular, and will attract orioles and robins, as well as other birds. Dispense jelly in a shallow container, slice oranges in half, and impale each half on a spike (nail, small tree branch, etc.). These can also attract wasps and ants; clean frequently.


  • Offer a wide variety of food to attract a wide variety of birds.
  • Buy only high quality mixed seed; low quality (inexpensive) mixes will have fillers the birds will not eat, such as Milo, wheat, and too much cracked corn, resulting in a waste of food and money.
  • Feeding the birds will not prevent them from migrating; birds use feeders to supplement their meals. Backyard bird-feeding has, however, caused some species, such as the Northern Cardinal, to expand their winter ranges.
  • Nectar should not be dyed red; a red dispenser or spigot will suffice.


  • As always, use common sense. Never feed the birds moldy seed or spoiled fruit.
  • Clean your seed feeders every week with soap and water to prevent the spread of pathogens.
  • The multitude of songbirds at your feeders may attract hawks (Cooper's Hawk and Sharp-shinned Hawk). Don't be alarmed if the hawk attacks; let nature take its course. The hawk must eat as well. However, if this disturbs you, you can remove your feeders for a week or so.
  • If a bird has House Finch Disease, remove your feeders for a week.

Things You'll Need

  • Feeder
  • Wild bird mix
  • Peanuts
  • Suet
  • Fruit

Article Info

Categories: Feeding Birds