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

This is a guide to the preferred food and feeder types, and the approximate time of the year each species is expected to visit feeders in the Southeast Region.

54 Bird Species that regularly visit feeders in the Southeast

Food and feeder type preferences were obtained from monitoring reports by bird enthusiasts feeding birds in their backyards.

Thousands of reports containing this information are submitted monthly to the Feederwatch Project under the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

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.

General food and feeder type preferences among birds in the southeast

Analysis of the information available indicates that:

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

Both black oils sunflower seed and its hulled form are preferred by most wild birds in the Southeastern USA. 

Food or wild seed preferences among the 54 species included in this article are as follows:

Food TypeNumber of Species that eat itPercentage
Hulled Sunflower Seed4888.8
Black Oil Sunflower Seed3462.9
Cracked Corn3055.5
Peanut Hearts (cracked)3055.5
Millet2648.1
Suet2546.2
Mealworm2138.8
Milo1935.1
Safflower1833.3
Peanut (hulled)1833.3
Fruit1425.9
Nyjer1425.9
Oats1018.5
Nectar59.2

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 feeder type preference among the 54 species included in this article are as follows:

Feeder TypeNumber of Species that eat on itPercentage
Platform5092.5
Large Hopper3564.8
Ground3259.2
Large Tube2037.0
Suet Cage2037.0
Small Tube1527.7
Small Hopper916.6

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.

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

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

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

Order of Species on the List

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 than in others. 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

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

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
Photo: Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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
Photo: Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Phil Romans/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Pichard Griffin/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Adam Baker/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Brendan F/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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
Photo: John Magnus/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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.

 Back to Top

10. Downy Woodpecker

downy_woodpecker
Photo: Jason Means /Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Tim Sackton/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

 

 

12. Dark-eyed Junco

dark-eyed junco
Photo: Fishhawk/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Julio MuleroFlickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Tom Wilberding/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

Food: Suet, Peanut Hearts, Fruit, Mealworms.

Feeder: Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

 

 

16. White-throated Sparrow

Photo: Doug Greenberg/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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
Photo: Margaret Viens/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photos: Andy Reago/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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
Photo: Vicky DeLoach/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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 

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
Photo: Henry McLin/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Patricia Pierce/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photos: Tim Sackton/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: OHFalcon7/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Becky Matsubara/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Allan Hack/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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

Food: Nectar.

Feeder: Nectar Feeder

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

    

 

31. Piliated Woodpecker

Photo: Andrew Reding/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

Feeder: Suet Cage, Large Hopper, Platform.

Presence: Year-round.

 

 

32. Northern Flicker

northern_flicker
Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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

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
Photo: Anne Davis/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Nicole Beaulac/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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
Photo: Kelly Colgan Azar/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Ken Mattison/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Allan-Hopkins/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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
Photo: Tim Watts/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

Food: Fruit.

Feeder: Platform.

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

    

 

42. Baltimore Oriole

baltimore_oriole
Photo: Julio Mulero/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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

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

Feeder: Large Hopper, Platform, Ground.

Presence: Year-round.

   

 

45. Eastern Meadowlark

eastern meadowlark
Brian Garrett/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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
Photo: Tom Murray/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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
Photo: Tom Murray/Flickr/CC by 2.0 

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

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
Photo: Mick Thompson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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

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.

 Back to Top

53. Pine Siskin

pine siskin
Photo: Jeff Dyck/Flickr/CC by 2.0

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

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: