What Do Birds Eat?

Make sure to put the right kind of seed in your birdhouse.
Make sure to put the right kind of seed in your birdhouse. (Image: Creatas Images/Creatas/Getty Images)

While most cats and dogs will eat and thrive on cat and dog food, feeding a pet bird is not so simple. Different kinds of birds like different kinds of foods, stemming from the environments to which their breed is accustomed. Because of this, knowing what kind of food birds eat, both in the wild and domestically, can help you keep your pet happy and healthy.


The most popular food for pet birds is bird seed, which can also be used in bird feeders to nourish wild birds passing by your home. However, not all birds enjoy the same seeds; while sunflower seeds, especially those still in their shells, are popular among many species, other birds prefer shelled peanuts or other kinds of food. By searching for wild birdseed at your pet or home store, you should be able to find a brand that combines several different kinds of seeds to please a variety of birds.


In the wild, some birds (including dunnocks and house sparrows), will eat grass and other forms of vegetation, including leaves. However, in colder climates, this can present a problem in the winter, when the grass is covered by ice and snow. During these times, birds usually adapt by switching to seeds or berries, eating whatever is available.


Many birds also eat insects. Though the stereotype of a bird eating a worm is true, especially for certain species, like the blackbird, a wider variety of birds prefer to eat grubs, which they find by digging in the ground or overturning leaves. Again, most birds that eat insects can adapt their diet in the winter, when insects may be scarce.

Other Foods

When treating the wild birds visiting your feeder, several other foods also work well and are easily digested. For example, birds will often pick the grains out of whole-grain bread. Fruit is also a good choice for a variety of species, from woodpeckers to cardinals. Finally, feeds a variety of birds.

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