How to Use Kitchen Scraps to Feed Birds

Feeding backyard birds can be an enjoyable hobby that brings nature right to your doorstep. Best of all, you can use kitchen scraps and leftover food to create nutritious bird feeders that will attract a variety of beautiful feathered friends. With a few simple steps, you’ll discover how easy and rewarding it is to reuse kitchen scraps to feed the birds.

Choose the Right Location

When deciding where to place your DIY kitchen scrap bird feeders, consider these factors:

  • Near trees or shrubs that provide cover and perches for the birds to land on
  • Areas with good visibility from inside your home so you can birdwatch easily
  • Keep away from windows to prevent collisions
  • Position 10-12 feet off the ground for security from predators

Ideally situate feeders in different spots around your yard to create a diverse habitat. Sheltered areas protected from wind and rain are best.

Collect Kitchen Scraps for Bird Feeders

Many common kitchen leftovers make nutritious bird food. Here are some excellent scraps to reuse:

Fruits and Vegetables

  • Chopped apples, pears, melons, berries
  • Tomato halves or quarters
  • Broccoli, spinach, kale stems and leaves
  • Corn cobs, husks, and kernels
  • Potato peels (cooked)
  • Squash and pumpkin pulp and seeds
  • Citrus rinds, pulp, and sections


  • Stale bread, muffins, tortillas, cereal, granola, oats
  • Cooked pasta, rice, barley, wheat berries
  • Cracked corn, wheat

Nuts and Seeds

  • Chopped walnuts, almonds, peanuts, pecans
  • Sunflower, pumpkin, flax, and chia seeds


  • Grated cheese, cottage cheese
  • Crumbled crackers and chips
  • Unsweetened yogurt


  • Cooked egg pieces or shells
  • Crumbled bacon bits and fat trimmings
  • Chopped unseasoned meat pieces

Avoid using anything moldy, salty, greasy, or seasoned. Rinse produce to remove pesticides.

Craft Your Bird Feeders

Transforming kitchen scraps into crafty feeders is easy and fun. Get creative with these techniques:

Mesh Bags

Fill mesh onion or citrus bags with mixes of fruit, grains, and nuts. Hang in trees or from poles.


Thread cheese cubes, grapes, melon chunks, and berries onto skewers. Attach to fence posts or branches.


Coat pinecones with peanut butter or suet, then roll in seeds, oats, cornmeal. Hang with string.


Arrange scraps in wreath shapes on branches. Hang outdoors.

Platform Feeders

Spread scraps on boards, plates, lids. Elevate on stands or posts.

Suet Cages

Enclose suet, peanut butter, or lard mixes in mesh cages. Hang from trees.

Get creative by combining ingredients and decorating your feeders. Change up materials regularly to provide variety.

Maintain Your Feeders

To keep your scrap feeders safe and sanitary:

  • Remove any soggy, moldy scraps right away
  • Freshen dry feeders daily and suet weekly
  • Clean feeders with soapy water monthly or when needed
  • Discard leftovers into compost, not back into kitchen scraps
  • Store unused dried goods in rodent-proof containers
  • Keep surfaces clean to avoid contamination

Position feeders in shaded spots to help food last longer. Adjust amounts based on consumption to minimize waste.

Expected Visitors

Offering kitchen scraps in well-placed feeders will attract many beautiful backyard birds. Some you may see include:

  • Sparrows
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice
  • Jays
  • Wrens
  • Finches
  • Nuthatches
  • Woodpeckers
  • Mockingbirds
  • Thrashers

Birds will come and go throughout the day to snack. Watch for busy feeding times early morning and late afternoon. Observe their behavior and listen to their songs from your window.

Benefits of Feeding Birds Scraps

Welcoming birds to your yard by reusing kitchen leftovers has many benefits:

  • Provides needed food and nutrition for birds
  • Offers safe supplementation along migration routes
  • Allows close-up views and photography opportunities
  • Attracts a diversity of colorful species to your yard
  • Creates habitat to nourish baby birds raised in spring
  • Provides entertainment and relaxation for you
  • Supports conservation of declining songbird populations

So enjoy the ease, savings, and rewarding experiences of using kitchen scraps to feed wild birds. A simple hobby that brings natural beauty right outside your door.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the best kitchen scraps to use as bird feed?

Some of the top foods are chopped fruits, berries, seeds, nuts, cooked grains and pasta, grated cheese, bits of meat or egg, and suet or lard mixtures. Avoid anything spoiled, seasoned, or salty.

How should I prepare kitchen scraps for bird feeding?

Chop produce into small pieces. Cook any grains or potatoes. Remove any mold, pits, stems, peels. Rinse to remove pesticides. Avoid using seasonings or salt.

Where is the best place to set up scrap bird feeders?

Look for sheltered spots about 10-12 feet off the ground near trees or shrubs. Avoid areas near windows or paths for safety. Offer feeders in multiple locations to attract more species.

How often do I need to replace kitchen scrap feeders?

Refresh dry feeders daily, or as needed once consumed. Replace suet feed weekly to avoid spoiling. Clean feeders monthly with soap and water. Discard any leftovers into compost.

What are signs of contaminated or spoiled bird feeders?

Look for visible mold, fermentation odors, sliminess. Discard any contaminated food right away. Monitor feeders closely in warm weather. Rains can also cause rapid spoiling.

Can I compost my leftover scrap bird food?

No. Any waste from feeders may be contaminated by visiting birds. Discard remains into your regular garbage, not compost. Then thoroughly clean feeders before refreshing with new scraps.

Will feeding birds with scraps attract rats or other pests?

To minimize pests, set up feeders at least 10 feet high on posts. Clean up fallen debris below. Store any bulk dried goods in chew-proof containers when not in use. Monitor feeders for pest activity.

How can I tell which birds are visiting my scrap feeders?

Observe visitors at different times of day. Refer to bird field guides or online bird identification sources to match descriptions. Note key details like size, colors, beaks, songs to correctly identify species.

What precautions should I take with scrap bird feeding?

Wash hands after handling. Position feeders away from windows and paths. Keep surfaces clean. Remove any moldy food right away. Store bulk items securely. Monitor for pests. Supervise pets around feeders.


Reusing kitchen food scraps to feed wild birds is an easy, enjoyable way to bring nature up close while reducing food waste. Follow simple steps to set up feeders while providing birds with nutrition they naturally seek. Observe your feathery visitors become recurring guests to your backyard habitat.