What Do Birds Eat to Survive?

What Do Birds Eat
Photo by Marina Khrapova

It can be fun to feed the birds in your yard. Also, many people even find it therapeutic to watch nature from their windows as birds eat from their feeders.

However, there are some things you should know about bird feeding. It will help you make sure your feathered friends are happy and healthy.

Find out what birds eat to survive and get tips on providing them with the best diet possible.

What Do Birds Eat?

What do birds eat? The shortest answer is that birds eat everything. Birds’ diets range from seeds, fruits, and insects in forest species to leaves, meats, and fish in tropical varieties.

 Of course, particular adaptations make it possible for birds to eat some things others can’t (like small bones). Almost anything that’s not poisonous or indigestible will end up in a bird’s stomach at some point.

What Do Birds Eat to Survive?

1. Nyjer Seed (thistle)

As a rule of thumb, wild birds can easily survive on birdseed alone. This is popular choice in what birds eat is thistle seed, also known as nyjer or niger (a member of the sunflower family). 

However, all birds love it because it is tiny and easy to eat. It is a favorite food among finches, pine siskins, chickadees, grosbeaks, and goldfinches.

Other popular seeds include canary seeds and safflower. Birdseed blends are available in most feed stores that sell bird supplies.

2. Suet

Suet is not just for birds in cold regions. The fat found in lard is an excellent source of energy and helps fatten up your birds.

In addition, suet comes packed with other nutrients like selenium, vitamin E, and phosphorus. You can buy many different grease types and make your own if you wish. 

Meltdown rendered animal fat and poured it into an appropriately sized mold to feed your birds. Suets can also be offered year-round, so there’s no need to worry about them going bad when stored at room temperature or outside in warm weather!

3. Safflower Seed

 What do birds eat? Safflower seeds make good bird food if you have a small garden or want to grow and harvest some safflower seeds. It is also grown as an ornamental flower, with red and yellow varieties available in seed catalogs. 

Also, the flowers are attractive and add color to your garden. You can buy safflower seeds at most nurseries or online.

4. Black-oil Sunflower Seed

Black-oil sunflower seed is a mainstay for backyard bird feeding. Black oil has a protein level more significant than most other seeds and is well-liked by birds in all species.

It’s also easy to find in most places; almost any pet store will carry black-oil sunflower seed, and so will many grocery stores. 

Furthermore, the only issue with black-oil sunflower is its price; it can be much more expensive than other seeds. Sometimes upwards of twice as much per pound.

For example, you can get 4 pounds of white proso millet seed for under $5—or 8 pounds of black oil for just under $15.

5. Fruit & Jelly

What do birds eat? Unlike humans, birds don’t have an upper limit on their daily calorie intake. To keep a bird at a healthy weight and shape. You should feed it only as much food as it can eat in about 10 minutes. 

However, this amount varies based on species and season; for example, in winter, many birds can survive on less food than in summer.

When feeding your feathered friends, fruit and jelly are fine. It would be best if you kept a few things in mind: 1) always use unsweetened fruit and 2) for their diet. 

However, these birds can be found mainly in rural areas. Rice is one of these cereals full of vitamins, minerals, and proteins; thus, it can serve as a food source for wild birds. 

In addition, several wild birds also consume wheat, oats, and barley seeds, along with grains such as rye, corn, and buckwheat. Many species, like larks and sparrows, mainly feed on cereal grains.

It is necessary to prepare an arrangement where you can provide vegetables and various grains because some individuals don’t prefer vegetables. In contrast, others eat fruits or sometimes roots or buds.

6. Milk and Coconut

Coconut water and milk are two of nature’s most nutritious liquids, and they are considered more than just foods—they have many medicinal uses too.

Suppose you want your feathered friends to feel as healthy as possible all year. Also, consider providing them with a steady diet of coconut products.

That way, they will enjoy superior nutrition while also receiving essential hydration. So what do birds eat? Coconut is a bird food that can help any creature thrive in all environments!

7. Mealworms

 Mealworms, or beetle larvae, are a typical bird food that provides protein and fat. You can buy mealworms in bulk at many feed stores or raise them yourself in small batches, and Mealworms require a reasonably high temperature for breeding.

Also, having these as an available food source will be more challenging if you live in a cold climate. An alternative is using sunflower seeds instead of mealworms when feeding birds. They contain some protein, but mostly they are made up of carbohydrates. 

Hence, this energy makes sunflower seeds great for keeping birds active during winter when temperatures may be lower.

Just scatter them on the snow-covered ground or into shrubs and trees as an instant buffet for visiting songbirds like chickadees and titmice!

8. Milo

If you are asking, what do birds eat? Milo is an excellent choice for feeding birds. You can purchase milo, also known as sorghum grain, at most garden centers and large hardware stores. It’s protein, and other nutrients birds need to survive.

However, because it’s so high in sugar, it must be stored in a tightly sealed container or bag. So it doesn’t attract pests like ants and beetles, who want nothing more than a free meal.

Millet can get moldy over time if not kept dry and airtight; if you plan on using your millet regularly. Also, consider investing in a small food-grade plastic bucket with a sealable lid.

9. Hulled Sunflower Seeds

 Sunflower seeds are a portion of popular bird food. Hulled sunflower seeds make an excellent food source for many birds. Sunflower seed is preferred over other bird seeds because it does not contain as much weed seed. 

Also, it can be consumed more straightforwardly than other types of seed like millet or cracked corn. Another reason that people choose sunflower seeds for their backyard bird feeders is that sunflowers are readily available.

In addition, it is non-expensive compared to many other types of feeders. Such as safflower, buckwheat, or suet cakes.

10. Canary Seed

What do birds eat? Generally, a bird’s diet comprises mainly minor bugs and plants. For a seed-eating bird, choose seeds high in fat and protein.

Canary seed is an excellent choice for sunflower seed-eaters, as it contains all essential amino acids (the building blocks of proteins).

However, it also has plenty of fat and oil content (about 22 percent), making it ideal for feeding birds that burn more energy during cold weather.

Additionally, the canary seed has 24 percent crude fiber—so if you feed your sunflower feeder, only canary seed. It would be best to cut back on other foods so they don’t become constipated. 

Also, remember that while seeds are good protein sources, they contain no vitamins or minerals.

11. Peanuts

Photo by Tom Hermans

 Often sold in bags or large tubs, peanuts are an excellent source of protein for birds. A bird will generally consume about 20 peanuts a day. The high level of protein and fat in peanuts can help birds build muscle and produce healthy eggs. 

In addition, Peanuts also contain thiamine, niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid – nutrients that promote heart health.

However, it’s important to note that only certain types of birds can digest a peanut shell. Take care not to feed any whole peanut shell or kernel, as it could cause harm if swallowed.

12. Shelled and Cracked Corn

The #1 best bird seed for your backyard birds. Shelled and cracked corn is an economical food full of energy, especially in winter.

It’s best placed on a platform feeder or scattered directly onto snowy ground for maximum accessibility and intake. 

However, remember that black oil sunflower seeds (unshelled) are also an excellent choice for year-round feeding. They might be pricier than regular corn, but they are healthier for your birds, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra.

You can find bird food at any pet, feed store, or online. Just do online shopping, and you should have all you need within 48 hours!

13. Rapeseed

Rapeseed, better known as canola oil or rapeseed oil, is one of those plants with an immense variety of uses. The edible portion consists of rapeseed and oilseed rape, and both varieties are used in cooking, just like olive or sesame oil.

Also, what makes them so unique is their high content of healthy unsaturated fatty acids. Such as omega-3 and omega-6, which play a crucial role in keeping our bodies functioning correctly.

Not only do they maintain heart health and prevent blood clotting, but they also ensure healthy cells and skin. Also, maintain good eyesight and fight degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

14. Nectar (sugar water)

What do birds eat? The key to making bird food is getting it right for whatever kind of bird you’re after. Nectar is a combination of water and sugar mixed in proportions that vary from species to species.

With enough added food coloring and flavoring (naturally flavored), sugar water makes it more appealing than unfiltered rainwater. 

Also, You can make nectar by mixing 1 part sugar and four parts water in a pan over low heat, stirring until all of the sugar has dissolved.

To see what kind of nectar your local birds prefer, set out some dishes next time it rains. Also, if you’re on good terms with your neighbors, they might let you check their feeders.

15. White Proso Millet

There are a lot of kinds of millet in China, with white proso millet being one of them. White proso millet is called Shuangshao by local farmers. It’s a grain that can be directly put into people’s mouths or used to make bread and pastries.

However, it has been noticed for many years now that not many local families know about white proso millet. Therefore, nowadays, we want to talk about another kind of bird food -white proso millet.

16. Oats

What do birds eat? You will be surprised how many different seeds, grains, and nuts we can feed birds. One of my favorite foods to offer is oats. 

Also, the nice thing about offering oatmeals as a food source for our feathered friends is that they are packed with energy and nutrients and contain the essential amino acids all birds need.


After looking at these critical aspects of what birds eat, it’s clear that birds need many different types of food, from nectar and insects to seeds and fruit. Every kind of bird’s diet depends on where they live and what time of year it is.

However, It’s essential for you as a backyard bird feeder to know what your birds prefer. So you can provide them with food that will help them survive.

By doing so, you may even attract more feathered friends into your yard. If all else fails, remember that seed is one sure way to attract many species.

 Also, don’t worry about spoiling them—birds can eat just about any food because they have specialized digestive systems that help them process food quickly and efficiently.

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