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The Best Foods To Feed Birds In The Spring – How To Get Birds To Visit And Stay!

One of the best times to attract birds to your landscape is in the early spring, just when migrating birds are first returning back to their summer homes – and one of the best ways to get them to visit and stay is by feeding them the foods they love most!

Believe it or not, early spring is actually a very important time for feeding birds. Especially migrating birds that have traveled long distances to return to their “summer” homes.

Just as overwintering birds benefit from high energy food in their feeders to help them through the bleak and barren winter months, migrating birds are always on the lookout for a nutritious meal when they first return.

best foods to feed birds in spring
Both overwintering and migrating birds can have trouble in early spring finding food. Although foliage and blooms are starting to come out, plants have not yet produced many of the foods that birds love and need.
Why Feeding Birds In Early Spring Is Important

Migrating birds travel long distances to return back to their summer homes – and all of that travel can take a toll on their bodies. Adding to the issue is that for those birds that return in early spring, there are not a lot of natural food sources existing in nature.

This is exactly why feeding birds in early spring is so important. Although many feed birds consistently through the winter, they mistakenly assume once spring arrives, food become plentiful. But that couldn’t be further from the truth!

Most bird species thrive on insects, worms, fruit, nuts and seeds. Unfortunately, in early spring, all of these can be scarce. Fruits, nuts and seeds do not form on plants until later in the growing season. As for insects, they are just beginning to come out. And even worms can be hard to find as the soil thaws.

If food wasn’t scarce enough, you also have to factor in that overwintering birds are on the hunt for food as well. They too need to fill up with large amounts of calories in order to scour for nesting sites, build their nest, and then rear their young. Which is exactly why having your bird feeders filled can be a huge attraction for all birds!

Providing the food birds want and need will not only help them survive and power up for nesting season, but it can also make them stick around your landscape for the entire season. And that can have huge benefits for you, your flowerbeds – and your garden!

feed birds in the spring
As migrating birds return in early spring, they, along with overwintering birds are all on the hunt for life sustaining food.

The Best Foods To Feed Birds In The Spring – Getting Birds To Stay!

Birds can be incredibly beneficial for gardeners, or for those who simply enjoy being outdoors. For starters, they can be a major source for natural insect control. Birds not only help devour insects that can damage flowers and vegetable plants, but insects like mosquitoes that prefer humans and pets.

Bluebirds, cardinals, swallows, purple martins, orioles and many other bird species love to dine on mosquitoes. And far better to have our feathered friends have these for a snack that to have mosquitoes snack on us!

In addition to helping to control everything from aphids and beetles to cutworms and more, birds also aid in pollinating plants. If all of that wasn’t enough – they fill the landscape with beauty and color all summer long. So if you want them to stick around, feeding them in early spring is the way to do it!

When birds find a source of food early on, they tend to nest nearby. And where they nest – they stay. So with attracting birds in mind – here is a look at the best foods to put in your feeders now to attract and keep birds around all summer.

The Best Foods To Put In Bird Feeders In The Spring

Striped & Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Just as in the fall and winter, sunflower seeds are always a great option for early spring feeding. Even better, there is a wide range of migrating and overwintering birds that love them.

Birds love the nutritious nuts inside, and they are a quick source of energy. Especially if you include Black Oil sunflower seeds in the mix. Black oil seeds are high in fat and oil, and just what hungry birds need in the spring to fuel up.

When feeding sunflower seeds, always be sure to throw a handful on the ground around feeders. There are a fair amount of ground feeding birds that prefer staying low and off of feeders. Affiliate Link: Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed Wild Bird Food

Dried Fruits / Berries – The Best Foods To Feed Birds In The Spring

If you are trying to attract and bring in colorful birds such as bluebirds, cardinals and orioles, putting dried fruits and berries in your feeder will do the trick. All of these birds love this healthy snack. And because it can’t be found in nature in early spring, they are always happy to find it!

nut and fruit feeder
There are all kinds of options for feeding fruit. This holder is made to hold nut and fruit blocks, but you can also simply add pieces of dried fruit to tray feeders.

There are several ways to feed dried fruit and berries. Tray feeders work incredibly well for this, allowing birds to sit and enjoy the treats with ease. You can also find special feeders made exclusively for feeding specific types or species of birds.

In the case of orioles, there are specific oriole feeders designed to hold fruit and jelly, which happens to be a major favorite for the colorful birds. Orioles can be hard to attract – and these feeders can be a difference maker to have them visit. Affiliate Link: Heath CF-133 Clementine Oriole Feeder , Orange

Dried Mealworms – The Best Foods To Feed Birds In The Spring

Dried mealworms are another big treat in early spring for returning birds. Chickadees, robins, titmice, starlings and nuthatches all love them. But they also happen to be the ultimate favorite for bluebirds, and supplying this food source can be a great way to help attract and keep them around your landscape to stay. Affiliate Link: 1/2 LB Dried Mealworms for Wild Birds

For these insect eating machines, along with providing a source of food, placing a few bluebird boxes up around your property can work wonders in getting them to stay. See our article: How To Get Bluebirds To Stay In Your Yard – The Secrets To Attracting Bluebirds!

A male bluebird sitting on a tree branch that is just starting to bud.
Feeding bluebirds early can have them looking for a home to stay all season long.
Peanuts – The Best Foods To Feed Birds In The Spring

Unsalted peanuts are another excellent source of protein and fat for spring feeding birds. Cardinals, Bluejays, chickadees, nuthatches and many other birds are known to flock towards these treats. When mixed in with sunflower seeds, they can be a high energy fuel birds love.

With peanuts, shelled are the easiest for smaller birds to eat, but leave a few whole for Jays and other large birds to shell and eat. Here is to feeding birds the foods they love this spring. And even better, getting them to stick around all summer!

Simple Garden Life

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Simple Garden Life is a website dedicated to keeping gardening fun, simple and enjoyable! We publish two new articles each week along with a new garden podcast episode every two weeks. This article may contain affiliate links.