What Foods to Feed Birds From the Kitchen

Attract backyard birds with common kitchen food items that you already have stocked in your pantry. Offer peanut butter, raisins and more at your feeders.

Birds visit backyard bird feeders for seed, peanuts, suet, mealworms and more, but you can also feed birds from your kitchen. Just look in your pantry or refrigerator for these kitchen foods that birds will love.


Birds that eat apples: Eastern bluebird, pine grosbeak, gray catbird, northern cardinal, northern flicker, American robin, scarlet tanager, cedar waxwing and red-bellied woodpecker.

Serving suggestion: Slice them up and remove the seeds. Or slice them in half, scooping out part of the fruit and filling with sugar-water, and skewer one on a feeder to attract hummingbirds, like the one seen here. Check out the 10 types of bird feeders you need in your backyard.


Birds that eat bananas: Northern cardinal, gray catbird, gray jay, scarlet tanager.

Serving suggestion: Remove the peel and cut in half lengthwise. Psst—here’s 10 foods you aren’t feeding birds yet.

Cooked Pasta and Rice

Birds that eat pasta and rice: Blue jay, brown thrasher, tufted titmouse, red-bellied woodpecker.

Serving suggestion: Serve both plain, and chop pasta into little bits to make it easier to eat.


Birds that eat eggshells: Any bird eating your seed, as well as purple martin and barn and tree swallow.

Serving suggestion: Bake clean shells at 250 degrees for 15 minutes. Crush and set out in a dish, or mix in birdseed. They’re a fine source of calcium for egg laying. Follow these 7 tips for a successful nesting season.

Hard Cheese

Birds that eat cheese: Gray catbird, brown thrasher, Carolina wren.

Serving suggestion: Dice hard cheese into little chunks, and be sure there’s no mold, which could be harmful. Please avoid soft cheeses. Check out our guide to making suet for birds.

Melon, Pumpkin and Squash Seeds

Birds that eat melon, pumpkin and squash seeds: Northern cardinal, evening grosbeak, red-breasted nuthatch, tufted titmouse.

Serving suggestion: Roast seeds in oven first. Do not apply salt or seasonings. Learn how to recycle pumpkins for birds and wildlife.

pine cone bird feederCourtesy Debbie Kaiman Tillinghast
White-breasted nuthatch eating peanut butter on a pinecone

Peanut Butter

Birds that eat peanut butter: Too many to name, including black-capped chickadee, brown creeper, white-breasted n­uthatch, wood thrush, wrens and woodpeckers.

Serving suggestion: Drop a dollop in a dried-out orange half left from oriole season, or spread over a pinecone.


Birds that eat raisins: Eastern bluebird, northern cardinal, gray catbird, northern mockingbird, orioles, American robin, scarlet tanager, brown thrasher, wood thrush, cedar waxwing, and red-bellied and red-headed woodpecker.

Serving suggestion: Soak raisins in warm water first so they’re soft and easier for birds to bite. Check out the 4 best foods for attracting woodpeckers.