How to Feed Wildlife in the Autumn

Your beautiful backyard harvest display can also double as food for wildlife. Below are the best ways to maximize an autumn harvest that gives back to wild animals in beauty and through food.

Note: This article focuses on North American wildlife; you'll need to adapt the food needs according to the wildlife in your area if you live outside of North America.


  1. Image titled Feed Wildlife in the Autumn Step 1
    Set up an area where you can display your harvest items. It should be in an area accessible to wildlife but also away from your indoor pets. Your backyard or apartment patio are good starting places. Keep in mind most wild animals may come out during the night.
  2. Image titled Feed Wildlife in the Autumn Step 2
    Sweep and remove any debris away from the area you intend to use. Make sure there are no nails, tacks, or other things an animal (or you) could be injured on.
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    Set up a feeder where you can have all purpose birdseed (including sunflower seeds and cracked corn). Use a hanging feeder so that more birds than squirrels benefit from the food.
  4. Image titled Feed Wildlife in the Autumn Step 4
    Not forgetting our squirrel and chipmunk friends, use a low hanging or even ground feeder and set out birdseed there also. Keep it at the opposite end from the bird feeder to avoid interaction or confusion.
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    To make sure your local wildlife has enough to drink, set out a bird bath and fill it with fresh clean water. Be sure to change the water as often as needed to keep it fresh and clean. Birds and ground animals will greatly appreciate this addition to the garden.
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    Put out a bale of hay or straw in your designated area. Either is fine, although hay is generally a food source whereas straw is used for bedding. Nonetheless, it will make an attractive harvest display and your animal friends will use it for food or nesting material (or perhaps both, depending on the animal)!
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    Set up corn shocks. Provided there is still corn attached, animals will use the corn for food and may use some parts of the plant for bedding (or they may also eat parts of the plant). Word of mouth gets out about corn very quickly, so expect lots of squirrels and raccoons to visit!
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    Have pumpkins and other assorted gourds and squashes set out for the animals. Raccoons may help themselves to small squashes and baby pumpkins as a food source. If you decide to carve one of your pumpkins for Halloween, save the seeds and give them to the animals-they will find it a wonderful treat!
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    Enjoy all the wildlife that comes to your backyard. They will thank you for feeding them right before winter!
    • Keep your camera ready! You never know when wildlife is going to visit, and when they see the plentiful bounty you've left them, they can get pretty excited!


  • This can be done from later September to November.
  • Be sure to remove your corn, straw, pumpkins etc when they have started turning or spoiling, so as not to attract bugs.


  • Keep your cats locked in so they cannot get out-they may harm wildlife or worse yet, be killed or seriously injured.
  • Use caution with wildlife and do not try to pet any wild animals or make them pets. They are wild for a reason.
  • Don't feed with human food, such as bread or leftovers. Wildlife needs to eat unprocessed food that they'd normally eat, not our processed offerings.
  • You may attract raccoons and other wild animals you don't want hanging about. While they're not always dangerous and should not be shot at, keep children and pets such as dogs and cats away from them, especially at night. Avoid leaving pet food out overnight.
  • If you suspect an animal has rabies, call animal control before further harm occurs.

Things You'll Need

  • Bird feeder
  • Squirrel feeder
  • All purpose seeds
  • Bird bath
  • Hay or straw bales
  • Corn shocks
  • Pumpkins
  • Gourds
  • Squash
  • Broom

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