how to feed only small birds

One of the best ways to enjoy wildlife in the comfort of your home is by watching the birds who visit your backyard. You’ll be amazed at the variety of birds you’ll see throughout the year—especially if you offer native plants that feed not only the birds, but also the insects that make up a crucial part of their diets.

Plenty of people choose to augment plants with birdseed, too. Yet experts disagree about whether this kind of backyard bird feeding will significantly help bird populations, and research indicates that it can even disrupt migration patterns or unbalance population sizes. On the other hand, supplemental feeding can help individual birds in your neighborhood, especially if plentiful native plants aren’t available.

The general rule for feeding any wild animal is not to offer food when it might cause harm (such as when there’s a local outbreak of avian disease that could spread through feeders). If you do choose to use a bird feeder, these answers to common questions will help you get started.

Choose the right feeder and the right seed

In case you have a tiny backyard or balcony, a conventional tube feeder would be an excellent choice for you. Although this kind of feeder can hold less seed, it will require less room. If you have a tree, you can hang these feeders from it; if not, you can hang them from a mounting pole.

If you don’t have a tiny backyard or balcony, don’t worry—you can still enjoy birdwatching! Window feeders would be a great choice for you. These compact feeders are made to suction cup directly to your windows. In particular, window feeders work wonders for drawing hummingbirds. Moreover, window feeders allow you to interact closely and personally with your feathered pals!

Selecting a seed that most birds will enjoy is the best option when it comes to seeds. This will minimize the space that multiple feeders would take up and allow you to attract a variety of birds. Black-oil sunflower seed is very popular. We suggest filling your feeder with it. You’re more likely to see a variety of birds at your feeder if the food is popular. Black-oil sunflower, for example, draws in cardinals, nuthatches and chickadees.

Should I feed birds year-round?

Its not necessary. When birds need energy the most, such as during temperature extremes, migration, and in late winter or early spring when natural seed sources are exhausted, bird feeding is most beneficial.

Most birds don’t need your help in the summer. Many birds concentrate on eating insects while they are nesting and raising their young, so feeding is not as important. Avoid filling feeders during the summer as it is crucial for young birds to learn where to find naturally occurring food.

Two exceptions to this rule are hummingbirds and goldfinches. Your goldfinches, who nest later than other birds, can receive nyjer seed until thistles go to seed, and you can provide nectar in feeders for your summer hummers to help fuel their high metabolism.

What bird foods should I offer?

Always keep cats inside, and don’t forget to provide the right food for the season from a clean feeder that is kept a safe distance from windows.

Winter (when natural foods are less abundant)

  • Black-oil sunflower seeds are small and have thin shells that are easy for small birds to crack open. They are high in fat, making them a good source of energy.
  • White Proso Millet: high in protein content
  • Peanuts: Provide in peanut-specific metal mesh feeders in the form of tubes; for peanut hearts, use a feeder with smaller apertures.
  • Commercially produced suet cakes, which come in vegetarian options as well, fit the standard-size suet feeder.
  • To prevent the nyjer seed from spilling out, use a tube feeder with tiny holes for goldfinches.
  • Medium-sized cracked corn is best because finer varieties will soon become mushy and coarser varieties are too big for small-beaked birds to eat.


  • For spring feeding, a variety of birdseed varieties are good options, but you may also think about providing fruit for songbirds. (If you use fruit, make sure to take out any spoiled or leftover pieces.) Moreover, you can provide baked and rinsed crushed eggshells, which give birds like robins calcium.
  • It’s nesting season in the spring, so you can provide natural materials like twigs, small sticks, straw, and other plant materials (e.g., g. moss, bark strips, pine needles, leaves, stems, cottontail fluff, cottonwood down, grass, or yard trimmings (as long as they are free of fertilizer and pesticides) Offer only natural materials, such as acrylic yarn, that birds might naturally come across.
  • Over 90% of songbirds depend on insects to feed their young during the spring and summer breeding seasons. For adult birds, you can still provide feeders, but insects are essential to the survival of nestlings and fledglings. Insecticide use should be completely avoided or drastically reduced as it may hinder adult birds from finding enough insects to feed their young.


Limit to nyjer seed for goldfinches and nectar for hummingbirds (refer to these guidelines).

When giving out feed during the hot and muggy summer months, be sure to keep the seed dry. The seed may release poisons that are toxic to birds if it becomes moldy. To prevent the bird seed from sitting for extended periods of time, try filling feeders halfway or less!


Offer millet, peanuts, peanut butter and suet cakes.


How do I keep large birds out of my feeder?

Cage-style feeders are the best way to address this problem. The specific size of the openings in the cage allows smaller birds, such as bluebirds, to get through to the mealworms or other types of food, while preventing access for grackles and larger birds.”

How do you feed small birds?

Choose feeders with no sharp edges or points; the design should allow birds to perch away from the food to keep it from becoming soiled. Set up more than one feeder and allow ample space between them to avoid crowding. Choose a feeder with drainage holes and add a plastic dome to keep seed dry.

What is the best bird food for small birds?

Birds Attracted
Seed Type
Finches, cardinals, chickadees
Sunflower Seed
See it now!
Woodpeckers, nuthatches, warblers
See it now!
Juncos, doves, sparrows
See it now!
Small finches, juncos, chickadees
See it now!