Switch Up Your Bird Feeding Habits to See New Species

Updated: Dec. 16, 2021

Offer new foods in your backyard, and you'll be surprised what you see! Mix up your bird feeding habits and keep an eye on your feeders.

If you’ve had the same bird feeding habits for years, now’s the time to mix it up and try something new. Here are five different ways to bring new birds to your backyard.

Check out the 10 types of bird feeders you need in your backyard.

Try Spreadable Suet Dough

278088725 1 Penny Rice Bnb Byc 2021Courtesy Penny Rice
Cardinals, sparrows, juncos, pine warblers, and house finches on a suet log feeder

Most bird feeding folks have a suet feeder or two in their yards to attract woodpeckers. But suet has come a long way in recent years. Go beyond the bulky blocks in cage feeders and try the new suet doughs on the market. These can be spread directly on tree trucks or other surfaces, upping your feeder space without adding more feeders. Try a spreadable suet that contains insects or berries to attract a wider variety of birds. You can also offer bite sized suet nuggets on a tray or platform feeder or place suet plugs into a log feeder.

Check out 8 common questions about suet for birds.

Switch to Safflower Seed 

Bird Feeding HabitsJill Staake
Switch sunflower for safflower – birds enjoy it but squirrels seem to avoid it.

Tired of squirrels stealing all your sunflower seed before the birds even find it? You might want to try safflower seed instead. Most backyard birders find that squirrels don’t seem to like it. Safflower seed may cut down on the variety of birds you see at your feeders, so try mixing it with sunflower seed, or change out just one of your seed feeders.

We found the best squirrel proof bird feeders and 12 tips that work.

Feed Cracked Corn, Not Bread, to Ducks

Love feeding stale bread to ducks at your local pond? While it’s a fun bird feeding activity, it turns out bread is not that healthy for ducks. Instead, mimic their natural diet with cracked corn. They’ll enjoy it just as much, and it provides nutrition they actually need.

Check out 9 foods you should never feed to birds.

Remember Ground-Feeding Birds

09 Johncushing Bbxjan19Courtesy John Cushing
Dark-eyed junco

Ducks aren’t the only birds that feed on the ground. Many other birds, like cardinals, juncos and grosbeaks, also prefer to dine down below. You can sprinkle seeds directly on the ground. Try it after a fresh snowfall and watch the flocks appear. Bird feeders made especially for ground use are available too. If you worry about predators like cats attacking ground-feeding birds, try installing platform feeders on poles instead. These feeders will attract many of the same birds.

What can birds eat from the kitchen?

Treat Birds to Fruit and Nuts

red bellied woodpecker with peanutCourtesy Lisa Nasta
Red-bellied woodpecker grabbing a peanut

Want to see a feeding frenzy? Try offering dried fruit and nuts from time to time throughout the winter. Birds that don’t usually visit feeders will make exceptions for these yummy tidbits. Peanuts in the shell are favorites for blue jays (and can keep them away from other feeders), and waxwings and flickers love dried cranberries.

Can birds eat peanut butter?