What Do Small Wild Birds Eat?

Bird feeding has become a big business today and there is an array of feeders to choose from. Black oil sunflower seeds remain the go-to choice, although other kinds of seed may attract birds as well.

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Many cheap seed mixtures contain large amounts of milo, wheat and oats that birds tend to discard as they search for more desirable seeds.



Peanuts are one of the most beloved bird foods. Packed full of fat and calories, peanuts provide essential energy sources for smaller birds such as titts, finches and jays.

Jays are particularly fond of peanuts in the shell and will frequently steal them away to stash for later consumption. Additionally, they appreciate whole peanuts or heart peanuts from feeders such as hopper, tube or platform feeders.

Remember to only feed wild birds peanuts designed specifically for feeding, not salty or salted ones, as long-term ingestion can be fatal to their wellbeing. Furthermore, always clean your feeders regularly and monitor peanuts for signs of mould and decay.


Nuts and fruits provide birds with plenty of energy, but if they run short it is still worth providing scrap vegetables such as frozen peas and corn (thawed out), leftover cooked potatoes, or bits from canned soup as an energy-packed addition to their bird feeders.

Bruised apples and bananas may also be offered, although any sugary coatings or additives should be removed prior to offering. Small dried fruits like sultanas and currants are favored by birds such as the tufted titmouse, northern cardinal, cedar waxwing. Celery stalks or lettuce should not be offered, since these sources contain mostly water without providing significant nutrition value to wild birds.

Cooked Eggs

Small wild birds often feed on anything they can find, including cooked eggs. Coddled eggs – which have been cracked into cups or ramekins filled with boiling water until set – are especially tempting to birds like nuthatches and titmice.

Other foods to offer in addition to seed mixtures include rolled or quick oats as filler seeds; flaked cornmeal is sometimes included in mixes for blackbirds; cedar waxwings particularly enjoy eating oats!

Whole or unshelled peanuts make an ideal winter offering to attract nutcrackers and woodpeckers, while peanut butter attracts numerous small birds such as the black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse and wood thrush.

Stale Bread

Wild birds spend spring, summer and autumn searching for food on the ground: buds, seeds, insects, fruits, nuts and grains. Additionally they hunt in trees for berries and fruit as well as strip fallen leaves to find more sustenance.

Bread becomes stale (or “stales”) when its starch molecules recrystallize – this differs from simply drying out through evaporation; amylose and amylopectin change their structure, leading to leathery textures characteristic of stale bread.

Instead of throwing out old bread, consider turning it into tasty dishes such as bread pudding and panzanella (an Italian bread salad), or tear it up to create rustic croutons for soup or salads.


If fresh fruits are unavailable, stale bits of cheese provide wild birds with an excellent source of protein. Mild varieties tend to be most suitable; moldy or rancid cheese should never be offered as food for wild birds. Cooked pasta and rice also make good carbohydrates sources; these should only be provided if their sauce or spices are mild enough.

Cheap bird seed mixtures often contain too much wheat, which birds quickly discard in search of more tasty seeds. Instead, choose mixes containing sunflower, nyjer and millet grains – these will attract finches, titmice and jays alike!


Birds enjoy pasta when it is properly prepared and not too salty, which not only provides them with some of the same essential nutrients found in bread but is a tasty way to fill their bellies!

Fruit is another favorite food of small wild birds and it can provide them with essential carbohydrates, sugars and multivitamins for their wellbeing.

Stale bread and other baked goods such as cakes and biscuits make tasty snacks for birds if they are free from added salt and sugar. Crackers or cookies may also work.