Seed Feeders

Seed feeders attract a variety of finches, sparrows, and other birds. They are a good way to easily attract a lot of different birds, and it isn’t to hard to set one up. Put it near the habitat of the bird you want to attract, or if you don’t want to attract any bird in particular a good place for it is near shrubs and trees. One of the best types of seed for a large variety of birds is black oil sunflower seed. Many birds will come to it, but its also a good idea to mix other seeds and bird foods like peanuts in. Here is a list of common birds that come to seed feeders:

  • Finches
    • House Finch
    • American Goldfinch
    • Pine Siskin
    • Evening Grosbeak
    • Black-Headed Grosbeak
  • Sparrows
    • Spotted Towhee
    • Dark-Eyed Junco
    • Song Sparrow
    • White-Crowned Sparrow
    • Golden-Crowned Sparrow
    • Fox Sparrow
    • Harris’s Sparrow
  • European Starling
  • Jays
    • Steller’s Jay
    • Western Scrub-Jay
  • Chickadees
    • Black-Capped Chickadee
    • Chestnut-Backed Chickadee
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch
  • Woodpeckers
    • Downy Woodpecker
    • Northern Flicker
  • Blackbirds
    • Red-Winged blackbird
red-breasted nuthatch at seed feeder

Red-Breasted Nuthatch at seed feeder

black-capped chickadee at seed feeder

Black-Capped Chickadee at seed feeder

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Brown Creeper

Scientific Name: Certhia americana

Diet: Brown Creepers eat insects, spiders, spider eggs, and suet. They also eat some seeds, and different invertebrates.

Sound: The Brown Creeper’s song and call are both highly pitched. The song is 4 to 9 clearly warbled notes, and the call is a repeated seee! seee! seee!.

Habitat: Brown Creepers can be found mainly in mature coniferous forests, especially douglas fir in western Washington.

Nesting: The nest is made of strips of bark, spider egg cases, moss, leaves, and twigs. The female builds the nest, but the male brings the  female nest material. Brown Creeper usually put their nests in crevices in trees and in peeling bark, but sometimes nest in cavities. They lay 5 to 6 eggs, and incubate them for 14 to 17 days. Both the male and the female feed the young.

Behavior: The Brown Creeper’s behavior is much like a Nuthatch’s. They start at the bottom of a tree trunk, and spiral up the trunk probing for insects the until they reach the top, where they fly to the bottom and spiral up again.

Description/field marks: Brown Creepers are about 5 inches long, and have wingspans of about 7 inches. They are very easy to overlook, because their backs, wings, and tails are mottled brown, much like the color of the tree bark. Brown Creepers have white undersides. They have long, down-curved bills, and their eyes are black. They also have very faint superciliums.

How to attract: Put out a suet feeder to attract Brown Creepers.

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Downy Woodpecker Diagram


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Brown-Headed Cowbird

Scientific Name: Molothrus ater

Habitat: Brown-Headed Cowbirds can be found in grasslands, prairies,pastures, fields, forest edges, orchards, thickets, and suburban areas.

Nesting: Brown-Headed Cowbirds are nest parasites. They lay their eggs in other species of birds nests. Brown-Headed Cowbirds commonly nest in Red-Winged Blackbird, Yellow Warbler, Red-Eyed Vireo, Chipping and Song Sparrow, Eastern Towhees, and Spotted Towhees nests, but over 140 different species have been recorded with Brown-Headed Cowbirds in their nests. The incubation time is 10 to 12 days. The females take one egg out of the nest she has chosen to lay her egg in, and lays one egg. She does this for about a month, and can lay up to 40 eggs in one breeding season.

Sound: The Brown-Headed Cowbird’s flight call is 2 to 5 clearly whistled notes, and the song is a high pitched squeaky gurgling.

Behavior: Brown-Headed Cowbirds are ground foragers, and they often travel in flocks of other blackbirds and starlings. Brown-Headed Cowbirds often follow cows and horses to get the food they have stirred up.

Diet: Brown-Headed Cowbirds eat mostly seeds in the winter, and about half seeds and half insects in the summer. They also eat egg shells from the nests that they have robbed and snail shells to give them the extra calcium they need for the number of eggs they lay.

How to attract: To attract Brown-Headed Cowbirds scatter grain and other seed on the ground, because they are ground foragers. They also will also come to a suet feeder.

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Spotted Sandpiper

Scientific Name: Actitis macularius

Habitat: Spotted Sandpipers live in ponds, streams, marshes, rivers, lakes, and other wetlands. During migration they can be found in many habitats including beaches, drainage ponds, mudflats, and practically any other wetlands. Spotted Sandpipers prefer freshwater, but can also be found in saltwater habitats.

Behavior: The Spotted Sandpiper has a distinctive jerky walk, in which it bobs its head back and forth in search of food.

Diet: Spotted Sandpipers eat a wide variety of invertebrates including mollusks, fly larvae, grass hoppers, beetles, spiders, crickets, worms, and crustaceans. They sometimes catch insects in flight.

Nesting: The nest is placed on the ground, usually close to the water. Spotted Sandpipers lay 3 to 5 eggs, and incubate them for 19 to 22 days. The nest is made of dead grass, twigs, and stems, and it is lined with feathers, twigs, and grass.

Sound: The Spotted Sandpiper’s call is a quick trill, instantly followed by a high pitched weet! note.

Description/field marks: During the breeding season Spotted Sandpipers have distinctive black spots on their breasts and undersides, with white underneath the spots. They have white eye rings, and they have black eye lines and very thin white supercilia. During winter Spotted Sandpipers lose their spots and their eye markings fade. All year they have brown backs, wings, and heads. Spotted Sandpipers are about 7 inches long, and have wingspans of about 14 or 15 inches.

Spotted Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper

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Dark-Eyed Junco

Scientific Name: Junco hyemalis

Habitat: Dark-Eyed Juncos live in a variety of places.  They can be found in brushy areas, city parks, suburban areas, forest areas, greenbelts, towns, and yards. Dark-Eyed Juncos live in open coniferous and deciduous forests. They are often found in pine, douglas fir, spruce, oak, maple, and aspen trees.

Diet: Dark-Eyed Juncos eat mainly seeds, but in summer they also eat insects, and the chicks eat mostly arthropods. They eat beetles, ants, caterpillars, butterflies, flies, and wasps. The seeds they eat include millet, chick weed, buck wheat, and sorrel.

Sound: The Dark-Eyed Juncos’ calls are a series of short tew! notes, and the song is a trill of 7 to 23 notes.

Nesting: The Nest is usually placed on the ground, often in a depression or dip. It is hidden under grass, a rock, or a log. Dark-Eyed Juncos make their nests out of lichen, moss, rootlets, grass, and twigs, and line them with feathers, grass, and hair. The nest takes 3 to 7 days to build, an when it is finished it is 3 to 51/2 inches across. Dark-Eyed Juncos lay 3 to 6 eggs, and incubate them for 12 to 13 days.

Forms: There are 6 different forms of the Dark-Eyed Junco–Slate-colord Junco, Oregon Junco, Pink-sided Junco, White-winged Junco, Red-backed Junco, and Gray-headed Junco.

Description/field marks: The Dark-Eyed Junco is a medium sized sparow of about 51/2 to 6 inches long, and a wingspan of 7 to 10 inches. All forms of the Dark-Eyed Junco have white outer tail feathers that show in flight.

Behavior: Dark-Eyed Juncos come and go from feeders in groups of about a dozen. They seem to hop more than walk as they forage for seeds and insects on the ground. They also glean insects off of  leaves and twigs, and scratch in the ground litter with their feet and bills to uncover food.

How to attract: To attract Dark-Eyed Juncos put out seed feeders. They especially like millet, so put that in your feeder. Dark-Eyed Juncos are not shy, and will come right up to your door if you put seed near your house.

dark-eyed junco

Dark-Eyed Junco(Oregon Form)

Dark-Eyed Juncos

Dark-Eyed Juncos

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Swainson’s Thrush

Scientific Name: Catharus ustulatus

Diet: Swainson’s Thrushes eat berries and insects. The insects they eat include beetles, ants, mosquitoes, caterpillars, and Bees. The berries Swaison’s Thrushes eat include blackberries, raspberries, and huckleberries. In winter Swainson’s Thrushes chase swarms of army ants.

Habitat: The Swainson’s Thrush breeds in coniferous forests, particularly fir and spruce. Swainson’s Thrushes live in coniferous and deciduous forests with dense undergrowth and thickets.

Sound: The Swainson’s Thrush’s echoing song is a bell-like series of notes that rise in pitch. The call is a sharp pit! pit!

Nesting: The nest is placed in a deciduous shrub or tree, 2 to 10 feet high. It is made out of strips of bark, twigs, moss, grass, mud, and leaves, and it is lined with dead leaves, lichen, animal hair, rootlets, and moss. Swainson’s Thrushes lay 3 or 4 eggs.

Description/field marks: Swainson’s Thrushes are about 6 or 7 inches long, and they have wingspans of about 11 or 12 inches. Swainson’s Thrushes are  fairly plain looking birds. They have brown tails, wings, backs, and heads, and they have buff colored eye rings and throats. They have speckled breasts, and white undersides. The bill is black with a pink base, and the feet and legs are pink.

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Northern Shoveler

Scientific Name: Anus Clypeata

Habitat: The Northern Shoveler can be found in saltwater and freshwater wetlands including marshes, ponds, lakes, and swamps. They like shallow water and places where there are muddy banks and plenty of vegetation.

Behavior/diet: Northern Shovelers often swim with their bills in the water to strain out small bits of food like plankton and other swimming invertebrates. They eat water plants, small crustaceans, insects, mollusks, algae, snails, and some seeds.

Nesting: Northern Shoveler nests are shallow depressions in the ground usually placed in short grass or vegetation, and the female chooses the nest site.  They are made of grass and weeds, and lined with down. Northern Shovelers lay 9 to12 eggs, and incubate them for 23 to28 days.

Sound: The Northern Shoveler’s call is a nasal chuk! chuk! chuk! repeated several times or quacking.

Description/field marks: Male Northern Shovelers have brown undersides and flanks, and white breasts. They have green heads, and their backs and wings are greenish gray. Northern Shoveler females look a lot like female Mallards, but Northern Shovelers’ bills are bigger and more spoon shaped than Mallards. Female Northern Shovelers are brown all over. Both the male and the female have large spoon shaped bills, but females have pinkish bills, and males have black bills. Males and females have orange feet.

Northern Shoveler

Female Northern Shoveler

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American Robin

Scientific Name:Turdus migratorius

Habitat: The American Robin ranges all across North America, and can be found in a wide variety of habitats. American Robins can often be seen hopping around in yards and other mown grass digging up worms to eat. They also live in open woodlands, city parks, fields, forest edges, and green belts.

Diet: The American Robin’s diet consists of earth worms and insects in the summer, and various kinds of fruits and berries in the winter. The Fruits and berries they eat in the winter include dogwood, juniper berries, hawthorn, strawberries, and cherries.

Nesting: These thrushes build their nests out of twigs, grass, rootlets, moss, and mud, and line them with dry grass. The females do most of the work building the nest, but the males sometimes help. The nest is placed 6 to 25 feet high, and is usually placed on a horizontal branch. When the nest is finished it is 6 to8 inches across, and 3 to 6 inches deep. American Robins lay 3 to 5 eggs, and incubate them for 12 to 14 days.

Description/field marks: The American Robin is 8 to 11 inches long, and has a wingspan of 12 to16 inches. They have redish orange breasts and undersides, and slate gray tails, wings, backs, heads, and throats. The throat has white streaking, and American Robins have white eye rings. They also have white rumps, and their bills are yellow. Females are duller. Juvenile American Robins have pale breasts and throats, and they have speckles on the breast.

How to attract: To attract American Robins put out fruits and berries, or plant fruit or berry producing shrubs and trees.

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Barn Swallow

Scientific Name: Hirundo rustica

Behavior: Barn Swallows often fly low to the ground, and they catch insects while flying.

Habitat: Barn Swallows live in open areas with good nesting sites where they can forage for insects, particularly where there is a water source. Barn Swallows can be found in pastures, grasslands, suburban areas, and city parks.

Diet: Barn Swallows eat insects almost exclusively, particularly flies. They eat blow flies, horse flies, and hover flies.

Nesting: The nest is a cup made of grass, straw, feathers, and mud. It is lined with thin grass stems, feathers, and hair. Barn Swallows lay 4 to6 eggs, and incubation lasts for 11 to19 days. They have 2 or 3 broods. A few Barn Swallows still nest in dead trees or on cliffs, but 99% of Barn Swallows nest on buildings, docks, bridges, eaves, and other man made structures.

Sound: The Barn Swallow makes a slightly squeaky chattering, rattling sound, and the call is sharp tsch!

Description/field marks: Barn Swallows are easily identified from other swallows by their deeply forked tails. They are purplish royal blue on the tail, wings, back, and head. The face is brown, and the underside is beige. Juveniles have lighter undersides.

Barn Swallow


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