What do Birds Eat ? List of Amazing Foods To Attract

Have you ever wondered what do birds eat ? The food diversity of birds ranges from eating fruit, eating insects, to eating other birds.

Birds can eat Plant-based foods like Sunflower, Shelled,  cracked corn, proso millet, Golden millet, red millet, flax, and canary seed and animal-based foods like Suet, snakes, mice, Meat scraps, and Mealworms.

What Food attracts Birds?

The following are the food and its sources that attract birds.

Plant-based foods:Animal-based foods:
Shelled and cracked corn
Nyjer or thistle
Proso millet
Milo or sorghum
Golden millet, red millet, flax.
Canary seed.

Meat scraps

What are the most common Foods for Birds?

The most common foods can include pellets, nuts, seeds, fruits, and many more. Let’s see them deeply in the following.

  • Pellets without sugar: 50-70 percent of a parrot’s diet can consist of pellets.  Sugarless pellets are recommended as these ingredients may cause diseases over the long term.
  • Fresh foods: Vegetables that are fresh or steamed.  peas, barley, quinoa, buckwheat, and amaranth. Legumes soaked or baked or sprouted.  Nuts and seeds that are raw, soaked, or sprouted.  Small raw fruit.
  • Fruits, nuts, and seeds:  Give only fresh berries and raw and unsalted nuts as a treat, along with vegetables, seeds, and nuts.

Common Birds and Common Foods:

The following are the common birds seen in urban areas and bird foods as well:

  • For Quail and pheasants: the Plant-based foods can be Cracked corn, millet, wheat, milo, sunflower hearts.
  • For Pigeons, and doves: the plant-based foods can include Millet, cracked corn, wheat, milo, Nyjer, buckwheat, sunflower hearts.
  • For Roadrunner: the animal-based foods can be Meat scraps, hamburger, suet
  • For Hummingbirds: the plant-based foods can be Plant nectar, sugar solution and animal-based foods are small insects.
  • For Woodpeckers: the Plant-based foods include sunflower seeds and hearts, cracked corn, peanuts, fruit, sugar solution, millet, and animal-based foods are Suet, meat scraps, mealworms.
  • For Jays: the Plant-based foods can be Peanuts, sunflower seeds, and hearts, cracked corn, safflower, citrus, grapes/raisins, and animal-based foods such as suet, meat scraps, mealworms.
  • For Crows, magpies, and nutcrackers: the plant-based foods include cracked corn, peanuts, leftovers, safflower, sunflower seeds and hearts, citrus, grapes/raisins. And the animal-based foods include Meat scraps, suet, mealworms. However, sometimes both Plant and Animal-based food such as dog food can be given for specific birds. 
  • For Titmice, and chickadees: the plant-based foods are Peanut kernels, sunflower seeds, and hearts, peanut butter, and animal-based foods include mealworms, suet.
  • For Nuthatches: the plant-based foods include sunflower hearts and seed, peanut kernels, and peanut butter, and animal-based foods such as suet, and mealworms.
  • For Wrens, and creepers: plant-based foods like peanut butter, peanut kernels, fruit, millet, sunflower hearts, and seeds, and Animal-based foods like Suet, mealworms can be given.
  • For Mockingbirds, thrashers: Plant-based foods are Halved apple, chopped fruits, nutmeats, millet, soaked raisins, currants, sunflower hearts, and Animal-based foods suet.
  • For Robins, bluebirds, and other thrushes: Plant-based foods such as berries, chopped fruits, soaked raisins, currants, nutmeats, sunflower hearts, citrus, and animal-based foods are Suet, mealworms given.
  • For Waxwings: Plant-based foods like Berries, chopped fruits, canned peas, currants, raisins are given.
  • For Warblers: Plant-based foods such as fruit, sugar solution, chopped nutmeats, sugar solution and animal-based foods Suet, and mealworms.
  • For Tanagers: plant-based foods such as fruits, sugar solution, grapes, raisins, citrus, and Animal-based foods such as suet, and mealworms.
  • For Cardinals, grosbeaks, pyrrhuloxias: Plant-based foods include Sunflower seeds and hearts, safflower, cracked corn, millet, fruit.
  • For Towhees, and juncos: Plant-based foods include Millet, sunflower, cracked corn, peanuts, nutmeats.
  • For Sparrows, buntings: Plant-based foods include Millet, milo, sunflower hearts, black-oil sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanuts.
  • For Blackbirds, starlings: foods can be Cracked corn, milo, millet, wheat, table scraps, baked goods, suet, safflower, peanuts.
  • For Orioles, Plant-based foods are  Halved oranges, apples, berries, sugar solution, and animal-based foods are suet mixes, mealworms.
  • For Finches, and siskins: Plant-based foods can be sunflower hearts, fruit, peanut kernels, and Animal-based foods can be suet.

Classification of Birds depending on their Food:

Birds are primarily divided into three groups, based on the food they consume most of the time. 

Those main types are 1.Herbivorous, 2.Carnivorous, and 3.Omnivorous.

Let’s quickly visualize the table with more sub-classifications

Sl. noMain ClassificationSub-classificationExamples
1Herbivorous(Eat plant derivatives)Frugivorous birds(Fruit-eating bird)Hornbill, Aracari, Cotinga, and Toucan.
Granivorous birds(Seed-eating birds)sparrows and finches, juncos and redpolls, Grouse, quail, pheasants, partridges, Doves, pigeons, Parrot, and parakeet species.
Muscivorous birds(Sap-eating birds)North American woodpeckers, Red-naped sapsucker, Red-breasted sapsucker, Williamson’s sapsucker, and Yellow-bellied sapsucker.
Nectivorous birds(Nectar-eating birds) hummingbirds (Trochilidae), sunbirds (Nectariniidae).
Palynivorous birds(Pollen-eating birds)Cockatiel, Anna’s Hummingbird
2Carnivorous(Eat animal derivative).Avivorous(Bird-eating birds)Cooper’s Hawk, falcons.
Insectivorous(insect-eating birds)Flycatchers, Kingbirds, Nighthawks, Phoebes, Swallows, Warblers, Woodpeckers, and Wrens.
Piscivorous(Fish-eating birds)Kingfishers, Loons, Osprey, Pelicans, Penguins, and Puffins
Molluscivorous(mollusc-eating birds) 
Ophiophagous (Snake-eating birds)Eagle, hawk, owl.
Egg-eating birdsCrows and Laysan Finch.
3Omnivorous(Eats both Animal and Plant derivatives)Both plant and animalChickens, Corvids( magpies, jays, crows, ravens, jackdaws, rooks)Crows, Emus, Ostriches, Robins, Rooks, and Seagulls.

Bird-eating birds Names and its Foods:

Name of Bird-eating birdsFood(birds) for Bird-eating birds
African Finfoot small bird 
American Crow Northern Flicker
American Kestrel song sparrow
Cattle Egret Barn Swallow
Eurasian Sparrowhawk rock pigeon
Cooper’s Hawk European Starling

Insect-eating birds Name and Food:

Examples ofInsectivorous birds (Insect-eating birds)Foods for Insectivorous birds (Insect-eating birds)
American Dipper stonefly
American Kestrel green grasshopper
Black-backed Kingfisherkatydid
Black-billed Cuckoocaterpillar(Malacosoma)
Black Drongobutterfly (Danaus)
Corn Buntinggrasshoppers
Eastern Bluebirdpraying mantis.
Eastern Bluebird cricket
Eastern KingbirdWith dragonfly, Bumblebee
Grasshopper Sparrowgrasshopper
Green Jay beetle
Large Cuckooshrike cicada

Fish-eating bird Name and Food:

Fish-eating bird namesFood for Fish-eating birds
Belted KingfisherFishes
Atlantic PuffinFishes
Black Skimmerneedlefish
Common Tern pufferfish
Common Tern Pipefish

Mollusc-eating birds Names and Foods:

Name of Mollusc-eating birdsFood Mollusc-eating birds
Snail kites (Rostrhamus sociabilis) Apple snails (Pomacea sp.)

Snake-eating birds Name and Food:

Names of Snake-eating birdsFood(Snake) for Snake-eating birds
Crested Caracarasnake (Western Coachwhip
Great Blue HeronSnakes
Harris’s HawkWhipsnake(Masticophis schotti ruthveni)
Laughing KookaburraSnakes

Egg-eating birds Name and Food:

Name of egg-eating birdsFood for egg-eating birds
American Dippersalmonid egg
Boat-tailed Grackle horseshoe crab eggs
Hood Mockingbirdturtle egg
Laughing Gull horseshoe crab eggs
Laysan Finchpetrel egg

Reptile-eating birds Name and Food:

Name of Reptile-eating birdsFood(Reptile) for Reptile-eating birds
Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl Lizard
Great Blue HeronBaby alligator
Great EgretSkink
Hood MockingbirdTurtle egg

What Foods Birds should never Eat? (Toxic Foods for Birds)

There are certain foods that people enjoy that, due to suspected toxicity, can never be given to pet birds because they can induce heart and kidney damage, etc.

Read More : Where Do Birds Go When It Rains ?

Read more : Why Do Birds Stand On One Leg?

The following are foods and its problems to birds if ingested by them:

  • Avocado: The avocado leaves of the avocado plant contain a fatty acid-like material that destroys fungi in the plant. This substance can cause heart attacks, respiratory difficulty, fatigue, and even instant death when swallowed by a bird.
  • Caffeine: For human caffeine may be a good stimulant, However, since it can increase heart rate, hyperactivity, and even cause cardiac arrest in birds, caffeine is bad for birds.
  • Chocolate: Like us, birds can eat foods containing cocoa or cookies or cake with cocoa and caffeine. However Chocolate can be toxic to birds, though, even in very small amounts. Chocolate can induce vomiting and diarrhea, increase heart rate, and even induce bird death.
  • Salt: Excessive hunger, dehydration, kidney failure, and death in birds are caused by salt and salted food.
  • Fat foods: Birds such as the Amazon and Quaker parrots are vulnerable to elevated levels of cholesterol and triglycerides and associated coronary artery disease.
  • Pits and seeds: Fruits containing seeds and pits, since these seeds and pits contain small quantities of a cardiac-toxic cyanide compound, should not be given to birds without removing the seeds and pits.
  • Onion and garlic: Onions contain sulfur compounds that can cause red blood cells to rupture when chewed, resulting in anemia. Garlic contains allicin, which is another chemical that can induce bird weakness.
  • Artificial sweetening agent: Hypoglycemia, liver damage, and possible mortality in birds are caused by foods with an artificial sweetening agent. 
  • Other toxic foods include: Alcohol,Cassava, Dairy products, Meat,Peanuts(parrots) and Bread(No nutrition value).