Bird-feeding Basics

Northern Cardinal at birdfeeder
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Northern Cardinal

More than 100 North American bird species supplement their natural diets with birdseed, suet, fruit, and nectar obtained from feeders. Feeding birds can benefit them and also provides great birdwatching opportunities in your own backyard. (Learn how to make your backyard bird friendly.)

Often, people think of feeding birds in the winter when their natural food supplies are scarce. But many birds also visit feeders during their spring and fall migrations and during summer while they are nesting, so you may enjoy keeping feeders up all through the year, offering different types of foods during different seasons.

To keep birds coming back to your feeders in any season, provide them with these three essential elements:

  • A variety of quality seed and other foods.
  • Fresh water for drinking and bathing.
  • Ample cover, preferably provided by native plants. Native plants also provide potential nesting sites and a source of natural food.

Keep in mind that birdfeeders also present potential risks to birds, including window collisions, predation, and exposure to disease. Explore the pages below for more information about how to attract birds and keep them safe.