Understanding what birds eat and the overall diet they prefer is essential to know what to feed birds to attract them to your backyard or where to look for foraging birds in the field. Every bird has different dietary preferences, and if you know what the different types of diets are, you can use those preferences to your advantage when birding.
Click on any type of bird diet for a more detailed definition.
An avivorous bird eats other birds. This is a popular diet for many of the smaller raptors, such as accipiters, which often prey on backyard birds. Several larger raptors will also prey on doves or pigeons.
Frugivorous birds, or frugivores, are fruit-eating specialists. Orioles, waxwings and toucans are all frugivorous and will eat fruit, berries and fruit-flavored jelly in the backyard. Many other birds will also sample fruit.
A granivore eats primarily grains or seeds, and many birds are granivorous, including many sparrows and finches. These are easy birds to attract to the backyard with different types of birdseed.
Insectivorous birds are specialized carnivores that feed on insects. Flycatchers and warblers are insectivorous, and most birds will eat insects to feed hatchlings sufficient protein for healthy growth.
A molluscivorous bird feeds on mollusks such as snails, slugs or oysters. Many shorebirds are molluscivores and will forage at low tide for clams and oysters, while other molluscivorous birds forage in tidal flats or swamps.
Mucivorous birds feed on the mucus of plants and trees, namely sap. Few birds are solely mucivorous, but woodpeckers, waxwings, kinglets and warblers all have a mucivorous component to their diets.
A nectivore feeds on flower nectar, and the most well known nectivorous birds are the hummingbirds. Other nectivores include honeycreepers and sunbirds, and nectivorous birds will visit both flowers and nectar feeders.
An ophiophagous bird is a snake-eater, a specialized type of carnivore. The snake eagle family of birds are ophiophagous, and the secretary bird is one of the most well-known snake-eating birds.
Few birds are strictly palynivorous, or pollen-eating, but many nectivorous or insectivorous birds will consume some pollen while foraging. This can be critical to help pollinate flowers to encourage additional blooms.