Make them Snacks

What do birds eat? It depends on the time of year. In spring and fall, many birds migrate. In late spring and summer, birds breed and have chicks. Then they need a high-protein diet. So birds that usually eat seeds, fruits and nectar switch to a diet of insects and spiders.

Girl with orange

In Fall

In fall, migrating birds eat insects, but they add fruit to their diet. Robins, gray catbirds and warblers often eat fruit.

What you can do: If you have a bird feeder, put out these foods for birds:

  • Small slices of apple
  • Orange halves (see photo)
  • Grapes
  • Grape jelly (put it in a small dish so the jelly does not stick to the birds’ feathers)
  • Suet
  • A bagel covered with peanut butter, fat and bird seed. See below to learn how to make this easy treat.

Bagel Bird Treats

Here’s what you’ll need to make bagel bird treats for birds in your yard:

  • A crock pot
  • Crisco shortening (solid fat)
  • Peanut butter
  • A stale bagel
  • Bird seed
  • 3-foot length of string


  • With a parent’s permission, put equal amounts of Crisco and peanut butter in a crock pot.
  • Turn pot on high and heat until mixture melts. This can take 20 to 30 minutes. Watch crock pot carefully so mixture does not burn.
  • Meanwhile, put some bird seed in a cereal-size bowl.
  • Put string through bagel hole and tie in a knot, leaving about 2 ½ feet available so you can attach string to a tree.
  • When mixture in crock pot is warm and melted, ask a parent to help you carefully dip bagel in mixture to coat.
  • Then dip bagel in bird seed until Crisco and peanut butter mixture is covered.
  • With a parent’s help, hang bagel from a tree branch or a hook in your backyard. Bagel should be at least 2 feet from branch so squirrels and raccoons cannot reach it and take this food meant for birds.
  • Watch as birds peck at the bird seed!

In Winter

In winter, some birds that stay in Wisconsin eat seeds in a bird feeder. Chickadees like sunflower seeds.

What you can do: Put up a bird feeder with seeds that you can buy in a garden shop or pet store. You’ll need your parents’ help to get the feeder and the seeds.

Do NOT feed birds bread, crackers, popcorn or other human treats. These have no nutritional value for birds.

In Spring

In spring, most migrating birds eat insects and spiders. Some birds eat plant seeds and will eat seeds in a bird feeder.

What you can do: Put seeds in your bird feeder outdoors so you watch birds come up and feed.
 Here are some birds that eat seeds in spring:

  • Rose-breasted grosbeaks
  • White-throated sparrows
  • White-crowned sparrows

In Summer

In summer, birds usually have plenty of food.