What Food and Feeder for What Bird: A Complete List According to the Experts

oil sunflower & cardinalThis is a guide to the preferred food and feeder type for wild birds.

The guide includes 54 species of bird that visit feeders in the Southeastern region of the USA.

A Summary of the most interesting findings is as follows.

Hulled sunflowers seed is the favorite food for wild birds. It is consumed by 48 (88.8%) of 54 species included in this article.

Jump to the: List of Bird Food and Feeder Types for 54 Species in the Southeastern USA.

Or continue reading preliminary information.

Both black oils sunflower seed and its hulled form are consumed by the vast majority of wild birds in the Southeastern USA.  Each species eat more than one type of seed and prefer certain seed types over others as follows:

Food Type Number of Species that eat it Percentage
Hulled Sunflower Seed 48 88.8
Black Oil Sunflower Seed 34 62.9
Cracked Corn 30 55.5
Peanut Hearts (cracked) 30 55.5
Millet 26 48.1
Suet 25 46.2
Mealworm 21 38.8
Milo 19 35.1
Safflower 18 33.3
Peanut (hulled) 18 33.3
Fruit 14 25.9
Nyjer 14 25.9
Oats 10 18.5
Nectar 5 9.2

Related: The 15 Most Popular Foods for Backyard Birds (with Pictures and Facts)

A summary of feeder preference shows that platform or tray feeders are the favorite types for wild birds. Platform feeders are used by 50 (92.5%) of the 54 species included in this article.

After tray feeders, hopper feeders, and the ground are favored by the majority of birds.  The 54 species of wild birds liked feeder types as follows:

Feeder Type Number of Species that eat on it Percentage
Platform 50 92.5
Large Hopper 35 64.8
Ground 32 59.2
Large Tube 20 37.0
Suet Cage 20 37.0
Small Tube 15 27.7
Small Hopper 9 16.6

Each of the 54 species below is accompanied by a bird’s image and the:

  • Food types the species prefers.
  • Feeder(s) type the species chooses.
  • Approximate time of the year the species is expected to visit feeders in the Southeast Region.

Throughout this article, I refer to the Southeastern USA as “the Region.”

The Southeast Region includes Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South and North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas.

If you are thinking of starting to feed wild birds at home or already have feeders and would like to attract specific species, this list can help you cater for those birds.

You can add food and feeder type to attract the birds you want to see in your yard.

54 Species “According to the experts” left off

The preferred food and feeder type for each of the 54 species on the list were obtained from monitoring reports generated by folks who feed birds in their yards.

Thousands of reports with information on food and feeder type used and information on bird activity are submitted monthly to the Feederwatch Project under the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

Information about food, feeder type, and use by birds was obtained mainly from the Feederwatch Project database.

Many species included on the list have extensive ranges beyond the USA’s Southeast Region . Their food and feeder type preferences apply anywhere these birds occur.

Order of Species on the List

The list below includes the food and feeder type preferred by the 54 bird species that regularly visit feeders in the Southeastern USA. The list is organized by the frequency at which these birds are recorded on feeders. 

The top 25 species are the most frequently reported backyard feeder visitors in the Southeastern USA. Birds toward the bottom of the list are recorded with less frequency and are less predictable.

While the top 25 species are considered the most frequent backyard feeder visitors throughout the Southeast region, birds toward the middle and bottom of the list vary from state to state. Some are more frequent visitors in higher numbers in some states while in others not as much. Moreover, presence and abundance can change from year to year.

Grab a piece of paper and a pen and write down the species name, the food, and feeder type each species prefer. Then, plan your backyard feeding station using this information.

Observing wild birds at your feeders from the comfort of your home can be a daily fulfilling experience.

List of Bird Food and Feeder Types for 54 Species in the Southeastern USA.

1. Northern Cardinal


northern_cardinal
Scot Heron/Flickr/CC by 2.0       Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Large tube, Large hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

2. Carolina Chickadee


black-capped_chickadee
Hal Trachtenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

3. American Goldfinch


american-goldfinch
Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower, and Nyjer.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Absent during the Summer months in the southern half of North and South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida.

4. Mourning Dove


mourning-dove
Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

5. Carolina Wren


carolina-wren
Phil Romans/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanuts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

6. House Finch


house finch
Richard Griffin/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round, recently expanding to Central Florida.

7. Tufted Titmouse


tufted-titmouse
Adam Baker/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

8. Blue Jay


blue-jay
Brendan F/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Millet, Milo, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

9. Red-bellid Woodpecker


red_bellied_woodpecker
John Magnus/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Nectar, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform, Nectar Feeder.

Presence: Year-round.

10. Downy Woodpecker


downy_woodpecker
Indiana Ivy | Jason Means | /Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

11. Northern Mockingbird


northern mockingbird
Tim Sackton/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

12. Dark-eyed Junco


dark-eyed junco
Fishhawk/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present during the Fall and Winter months in most Southeastern States but absent from most Florida.

13. American Robin


american_robin
Julio MuleroFlickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round in most Southeastern States. Present in most of Florida only during the winter months.

14. Chipping Sparrow


chipping sparrow
Tom Wilberding/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present year-round. In Southern Georgia and half the State of Florida only during the winter months.

15. Eastern Bluebird


eastern-bluebird
Patricia Pierce/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Suet, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

16. White-throated Sparrow



Doug Greenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Only during the Fall and Winter months. Absent from South Florida.

17. Yellow-rumped Warbler


yellow-rumped warbler
Margaret Viens/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Nectar, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform, Nectar Feeder.

Presence: Present only during the Fall and Winter months.

18. White-breasted Nuthatch


white-breasted-nuthatch
Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Nectar, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round down to North Florida. Largely absent from the rest of Florida.

19. Brown-headed Cowbird


brown-headed-cowbird
Andy Reago/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round. In Central and South Florida, present only during the Fall and Winter months.

20. Red-winged Blackbird


red-winged blackbird
Andy Reago/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanuts Hearts, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

21. Pine Warbler


pine warbler
Vicky DeLoach/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanuts Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round but absent from extreme South Florida.

22. American Crow


american crown
Shawn-McCready/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

23. Purple Finch


purple finch
Henry McLin/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Millet.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Present in the Region only during the fall and winter months down to North Florida. Absent from the rest of Florida.

24. Brown Thrasher


brown thrasher
Patricia Pierce/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet Cage, Cracked Corn, Corn, Peanut Hearts.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

25. Eastern Towhee


eastern towhee
Tim Sackton/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

Birds that Visit Feeders more Infrequently.

26. Common Ground-Dove


common_ground-dove
OHFalcon7/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Absent from most of the Region. Present during the Fall and Winter months in Southern Mississippi, Alabama, and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Present year-round on the east coast of Central and South Florida.

27. White-winged Dove


white-winged dove
Becky Matsubara/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Cracked Corn, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Absent from most of the Region. Present during the Fall and Winter months in Southern Mississippi, Alabama, and the Gulf Coast of Florida. Present year-round on the east coast of Central and South Florida.

28. Eurasian Collared-Dove


eurasian collared dove
Allan Hack/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

29. Rock Pigeon


rock pigeon
Hal Trachtenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

30. Ruby-throaed Hummingbird


ruby-throated-hummingbird
Michael Janke/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Nectar.

Feeder: Nectar Feeder

Presence: Present during the Spring and Summer months. Present but very rare during the winter months.

31. Piliated Woodpecker



Andrew Reding/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: BBlack Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: PSuet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

32. Northern Flicker


northern_flicker
Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Millet.

Feeder: Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

33. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker


yellow-bellied sapsucker
Tom Murray/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Suet, Mealworms.

Feeder: Suet Cage.

Presence: Present in the Region only during the Fall and Winter months.

34. Hairy Woodpecker


hairy woodpecker
Jerry McFarland/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

35. Brown-headed Nuthatch


brown-headed nuthatch
Anne Davis/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round. Absent from South Florida.

36. Red-breasted Nuthatch

red-breasted nuthatch acadia national park
Nicole Beaulac/Flickr/CC by 2.0
  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Present during the Fall and Winter months only. Absent from most of Florida

37. Brown Creeper


brown creeper
Kelly Colgan Azar/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanut Hearts.

Feeder: Suet Cage.

Presence: Present in the Region during the Fall and Winter months.

38. Ruby-crowned Kinglet


ruby-crowned kinglet
Ken Mattison/Flickr/CC by 2.0 Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanut Hearts, Mealworms.

Feeder: Suet Cage, Platform.

Presence: Present in most of the Region during the Fall and Winter months. Absent from South Florida.

39. Gray Catbird


gray_catbird
Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Suet, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present year-round in most of the Region. In Florida. It is present only during the Fall and Winter months.

40. European Starling


european startling
Tim Watts/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Fruit, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: Large Tube, Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

41. Cedar Waxwing


cedar_waxwing
Eric Ellingson/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Fruit.

Feeder: Platform.

Presence: In the Region only during the Fall and Winter months.

42. Baltimore Oriole


baltimore_oriole
Julio Mulero/Flickr/CC by 2.0 Back to Top

Food: Suet, Nectar, Fruit.

Feeder: Platform, Nectar Feeder

Presence: Breeds in North Georgia, N. Alabama, and Mississippi during the Spring and Summer months. Absent the rest of the year. It is rare during the winter months in Florida.

43. Orchard Oriole


orchard oriole
Kelly Colgan Azar/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Suet, Nectar, Fruit.

Feeder: Platform, Nectar Feeder.

Presence: Breeds in the Region during the Spring and Summer months. Absent the rest of the year.

44. Common Grackle


common_grackle
Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: BBlack Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Suet, Cracked Corn, Peanuts, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Millet, Oats, Milo.

Feeder: PLarge Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

45. Eastern Meadowlark


eastern meadowlark
Brian Garrett/Flickr/CC by 2.0     Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds,  Cracked Corn.

Feeder: Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

46. Song Sparrow


white-throated sparrow acadia national park
Becky Matsubara/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Safflower, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Milo. Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present in the Region during the Fall and Winter months.

47. Fox Sparrow


fox sparrow
Tom Murray/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Nyjer, Cracked Corn, Millet, Milo.

Feeder:  Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present in the Region during the Fall and Winter months. Absent from most of Florida.

48. Field Sparrow


field sparrow
Tom Murray/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Millet.

Feeder: Large Hopper, Small Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round in most of the Region. In North and Central Florida, only during the Fall and Winter months.

49. White-crowned Sparrow


white-crowned sparrow
Doug Greenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present in the Region only during the Fall and Winter months. Absent from East North and South Carolina, Southeast Georgia, and most of Florida.

50. Painted Bunting


painted bunting
Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0    Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower, Millet, Nyjer.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Present during the Fall and Winter months in South Florida. It migrates through Florida and the southern portion of other southern states. Breeds in Northeast Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina. It also breeds in the South Central USA.

51. Indigo Bunting


indigo-bunting
Andrew-Cannizzaro/Flickr/CC by 2.0 Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower, Millet, Nyjer.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Present during the Spring and Summer months in most of the Region. Rare but present during the Winter months only in Central and South Florida.

52. Blue Grosbeak


blue grosbeak
Matt Ward/Flickr/CC by 2.0 Back to Top

Food: Hulled Sunflower, Millet, Nyjer, mealworms.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Present only during the Spring and Summer months.

53. Pine Siskin


pine siskin
Jeff Dyck/Flickr/CC by 2.0  Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Nyjer.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Small Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Present but rare in most of the Region only during the Fall and Winter months. Absent from most of Florida.

54. House Sparrow


house sparrow
Melvin Yap/Flickr/CC by 2.0   Back to Top

Food: Black Oil Sunflower Seeds, Hulled Sunflower Seeds, Cracked Corn, Peanut Hearts, Millet, Milo.

Feeder: Large Tube Feeder, Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.


References:


YOU MAY ALSO LIKE