Bird food

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"Bird seed" redirects here. For the Whitehouse album, see Bird Seed (album).
A mixture of seeds in a bird feeder

Bird feed is food (often varieties of seeds) eaten by birds. The most important use of bird feed globally, is as feed for domesticated poultry. However (especially in developed countries), people also make or buy bird food to feed to pet birds or use in birdfeeders for wild birds. Bird food can be natural or commercial. The choice of what to use as bird food depends on the species of bird being fed. Bird food can also potentially attract rodents.


Bushtits eating suet from a bird feeder


Black sunflower seeds are highly recommended for use in bird feeders because they attract a wide variety of birds, have a high ratio of meat to shell, and are high in fat content.[1][2] Other common birdseeds include Niger, or thistle seed, a favorite of goldfinches, millet for sparrows and juncos, and safflower for cardinals, among others.[1][2]


Since there are various birds that do not eat seeds, several other types of food have traditionally been used. Suet (beef or mutton fat) is recommended for insect-eating birds like nuthatches and woodpeckers.[1] Nectar (essentially sugar water) attracts hummingbirds.[1] Bread and kitchen scraps are often fed to ducks and gulls. Chickens are commonly fed maize, wheat, barley, sorghum and milling by-products, in a mixture traditionally called chicken scratch.

These seeds and non-seed supplies are commonly obtained as by-products on farms, but can also be bought from independent retailers.

Commercial bird food[edit]


A wide variety of commercial bird food is available to bird owners, combining a variety of seeds in a single mix. Individual types of bird tend to pick out their favorite seeds and leave the rest uneaten, to be picked up by other birds.[2][3] Pellets are also available as a feeding method to birds, pellets come in many sizes, are widely available and meet the nutritional needs of birds.


Main article: Poultry feed

Farmed birds fed commercial bird food typically are given very specific scientifically designed preblended feed. Examples of commercial bird food for chickens include chick starter medicated crumbles, chick grower crumbles, egg layer mash, egg layer pellet, egg layer crumbles, egg producer pellet, and broiler maker med crumbles.[clarification needed] Pellet crumbles are often prepared for tiny chicks. Mash is more finely ground.


  1. ^ a b c d What to Feed Birds and Seeds and Grains for Birds. Project FeederWatch. Retrieved on August 23, 2006
  2. ^ a b c Porter, Diane. Winter Bird Feeder: Keep Them Coming Back. Retrieved on August 23, 2006.
  3. ^ Choosing Bird Food. All About Birds. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved on August 23, 2006.

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