Updated at: 10-08-2022 - By: Jane Brody

If you want to ensure that your backyard birds get their fill of high-quality wild bird food, you may choose a feeder that is made to do just that.

You can add peanuts, suet in various forms (cake, fat balls, pellets, and nuggets), and even dried or live mealworms in a dish to attract birds to your feeder. For this reason, many feeders are now made to hold food while yet being easily accessible for the birds to take what they need.

What To Put In A Bird Feeder

Only the type of bird feed for which the feeder was intended should be used in the feeder.

Wild bird seeds, which typically include many more items than just seeds but still fit through the port holes where the birds insert their beaks to eat, can be placed within a clear plastic tube with a window.

Once only used to contain unsalted wild bird peanuts, steel mesh wire bird feeders can now also be used to hold other foods such as sunflower seeds, suet nuggets, and even dried mealworms.

Insect-eating birds can be attracted to a bird feeder dish or other platform feeder by providing either dried or live mealworms.

The variety of suet bird feeders on the market adds another layer of complexity. A wide-gap feeder, for example, may accommodate both flat suet cakes and long, spherical suet fat balls.

What looks like a seed bird feeder can actually hold suet pellets; the feeding ports are just larger.

Most people always have the option of providing food for wild birds without using bird feeders if they have any doubts. If you want to attract birds that eat from the ground, you can do so by scattering bird seed or dried mealworms on the ground.

Having birds who have trouble or aren’t compatible with bird feeders able to feed in your yard is a win-win situation.

One reason to avoid using bird feeders, which can spread disease if left exposed to the environment, is that bird food there can quickly germinate.

To ensure that all birds, including those that are unable to use bird feeders, have access to food, it is best to combine different types of bird seed in a single hanging feeder, while any seed can be used on a platform feeder with a flat top.

Can depend on feeder type

Depending on the feeders you use, certain types of bird food may be off-limits.

However, it’s still a lot of fun to experiment with different kinds of wild bird feed, even if the feeder doesn’t work as advertised.

This wire bird feeder can be used with suet nuggets, dried mealworms, and sunflower seeds (so long as the seeds are large enough to not squeeze out between the wire gaps), but mesh wire bird feeders are often only suitable for peanuts.

Put only those things in a bird feeder that are appropriate for use in a bird feeder.

As has been established, seed mixtures can be fed from clear plastic tube feeders, suet can be fed from cage bird feeders, and peanuts can be fed from wire mesh bird feeders, among many other things.

If you’re going to commit to utilizing a bird feeder, you may as well stock up on the finest wild bird food available for that feeder, so let’s have a look at what’s out there.

Utilize popular Seed mixes

What To Put In A Bird Feeder-2

Only seeds or, in the case of specialized hummingbird feeders, prepared nectar should be placed in a clear plastic tube bird feeder.

Use a commercially available seed blend that mimics a wild bird’s diet in terms of the types and quantities of seeds it consumes.

Nyjer, sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, and even peanuts, which are commonly referred to as nut meat, are all possible components of this blend.

Having a little bit of everything a seed-eating bird requires, seed mixes appeal to a wide variety of typical backyard birds. The most popular of these seeds is the sunflower seed, and some bird feeders allow you to add only this type of seed.

In the long run, it’s best to use specialized wild bird food, but for now, a good seed mix will attract the greatest variety of birds.

A simple, lightweight tube seed bird feeder is all that’s required for a seed mix, as there is no need to worry about blockages or seeds becoming stuck. Consequently, only high-quality seed mixtures should be used in a bird feeder.

Nuts of the Peanut kind

Wire mesh bird feeders can be filled with a variety of nuts, though wild bird peanuts are the safest option.

Keeping the mesh wire bird feeder available ensures a steady stream of seed-eating birds, as many of these species also enjoy peanuts.

Typically, a wire bird feeder in the shape of a long cylinder is used to hold peanuts.

Use a ring or wreath-shaped peanut feeder, which allows most birds to cling while others stand on top to feed; this is especially helpful for species like Chickadees and Woodpeckers, which feed while hanging upside down.

It’s common practice to attach a tray to the bottom of peanut feeders (and occasionally seed feeders) to provide perching space for the birds.

A defect in the design exists if, in addition to peanuts being caught behind a wire bird feeder for birds to take one at a time, the wire causes peanuts to drop out.

Sunflower seeds and suet nuggets can both be kept in a bird feeder made of wire mesh.

Suet in cage or loose pellets

What To Put In A Bird Feeder-3

A bird feeder with wire spacing as large as an inch, such as that found in a diamond pattern, is probably best used for suet fat balls or suet cakes.

Suet cakes, also known as fat balls, are typically large blocks of fatty beef that have been cured into solid blocks for birds to gnaw at during the course of the suet’s shelf life. This is to let the birds to pick at it without having to worry about pests or larger birds eating it all.

You can only use suet cakes or fat balls in a cage-shaped bird feeder.

Cage bird feeders are constructed of steel wiring that has been coated with a durable, weather-resistant plastic to make it more comfortable for the birds to perch on.

The suet nuggets can be placed in a wire mesh bird feeder that also accommodates peanuts or sunflower seeds if desired.

Suet pellets, on the other hand, are typically placed inside a clear plastic tube, much like a seed bird feeder, but with less restrictive port holes to enable for larger pellets to be dragged out by feeding birds.

Mix it all together

To avoid any confusion, only place wild bird food in the appropriate feeder.

However, if you don’t want to spend the money on multiple bird feeders or don’t have the room for a lot of feeders in your yard, you may still experiment by putting different kinds of bird food into a single feeder.

Be careful not to jam the feeder by adding too many different foods at once; for example, a few inches of seeds, followed by nuts, and then suet pellets.

If you mix three different kinds of bird food together, you’ll have something like a cocktail. When a certain kind of bird food is no longer available, the birds can move on to the next random type of food.

Any bird that can use a bird feeder can pick and choose what it wants to eat, and what it doesn’t, just by pecking about in the mixed-up mixture.

Given this, the only time I’d suggest combining several types of wild bird feed is if you’re using a platform feeder, which is the ideal type of feeder for drawing in a large variety of birds without excluding any of them.

Only use high-quality wild bird feed when preparing bird food to be contained within a wire or tube hanging bird feeder, as it lasts much longer than interior bird food.

Never put in a bird feeder anything that may quickly germinate, such as dried fruits, fresh fruits, or any perishables that are not good bird feed.

No to incompatible feed

Putting anything other than wild bird feed in a feeder poses a health danger to the birds.

Bird food, like peanuts in their natural form, is produced specifically for use in the great outdoors. Bird feeders that employ human food waste can quickly become breeding grounds for germs.

Wild birds may eat almost anything from the trash, but there is no way to know if it is safe to put in a bird feeder.

Throw your leftover bread, cereal, rice, or pasta on top of a platform bird feeder or any other flat surface in the yard.

As food scraps can germinate in as little as a few hours in warm weather, you have no more than a day to make sure the birds get what they desire.

Even if you place leftovers in a bird feeder, it could be days before the birds get to it, and I can guarantee you that 99 percent of it won’t get eaten.

For the birds that will eat your leftovers, put them on top of an open platform feeder rather than in the feeder itself.


You can fill a bird feeder with whatever you like, but you can only use it with the bird feed that was designed for it.

Quality seed mixes, including nyjer, sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, wheat grains, and peanuts, can be placed within a clear plastic tube bird feeder to attract a variety of birds.

Because sunflower seeds tend to be somewhat large, a special wire bird feeder is designed to accommodate them alone.

Peanuts, suet nuggets, dried mealworms, and bigger sunflower seeds are the standard fare for a bird feeder made of steel wire mesh.

Suet cages are able to store a wide variety of suet, which is essential for keeping most birds alive throughout the winter.

Suet cakes and fat balls can be stored in wide-mouthed cages and hung from a tree limb or a bird feeder pole, while suet pellets are best used in a suet pellet tube feeder.

Also, there are bird feeders designed to contain either peanuts in their shells or shelled peanuts, and a wire cage suet bird feeder can serve this purpose.

In order to avoid incompatibilities, such as obstructions or bird feed getting stuck, it is important to only use suggested bird feed in their own bird feeder.

Some bird experts recommend keeping all of the bird food in the same feeder, however this only applies if the feeder is always available. However, a platform bird feeder is ideal for mixing wild bird feed.

Never use food leftovers from the kitchen or around the house in a bird feeder; they won’t be able to digest the material and will quickly rot out in plain sight.

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