Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Feeding birds on the ground is a simple and inexpensive way to attract and support a variety of bird species. Many birds naturally forage for food on the ground in their natural habitats, so offering bird seed on the ground is a familiar and convenient option for them. Popular backyard birds in the United States, such as Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and Mourning Doves, often prefer feeding on the ground. However, it’s important to be aware of the potential drawbacks of ground feeding, such as messiness, the attraction of pests, and the increased vulnerability of birds to predators like cats. To minimize these issues, placing bird seed on bare soil, snow crusts, or cement sidewalks can be effective. Using low platform feeders, like saucers or bowls, can also provide a designated feeding area. Optimal seeds for ground feeding birds include black oil sunflower seeds, red milo, cracked corn, and white proso millet. Considering a platform feeder and ensuring a clear view from inside the house are additional steps to enhance the experience of observing ground-feeding birds.

Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Feeding birds is a popular and enjoyable hobby for many people. It not only allows us to connect with nature, but it also provides essential food sources for our feathered friends. While traditional bird feeders are commonly used, feeding birds on the ground can be a simple and inexpensive alternative. In this article, we will explore why birds prefer feeding on the ground, the common backyard birds that feed on the ground, potential problems of feeding birds on the ground, ideal places to put bird seed on the ground, the use of low platform feeders, types of seeds to feed birds on the ground, attracting ground-feeding birds with platform feeders, and observing these birds from inside your home.

Why Birds Prefer Feeding on the Ground

Natural Habit

Many birds prefer feeding on the ground because it is a natural habit for them. In nature, birds search for food on the ground, whether it be seeds, insects, or other small creatures. By mimicking their natural behavior, we can attract birds to our yards and provide them with a familiar feeding environment.

Easy Access to Food

Feeding on the ground provides birds with easy access to food. Unlike hanging feeders, where birds need to perch or balance, ground feeding allows them to simply hop down and enjoy a meal. This accessibility makes feeding on the ground a convenient option for many bird species.

Safety Benefit

Feeding on the ground also provides a safety benefit for birds. Ground-level feeders make it easier for birds to detect potential predators, as they have a clear view of their surroundings. This increased awareness allows birds to quickly flee if they sense danger, ensuring their safety while feeding.

Common Backyard Birds that Feed on the Ground

There are several common backyard birds in the United States that frequently feed on the ground. These birds can often be seen foraging for food in yards and gardens. Some examples include Dark-eyed Juncos, White-throated Sparrows, and Mourning Doves. These birds are known for their ground-feeding habits and can provide a delightful sight to bird enthusiasts.

Potential Problems of Feeding Birds on the Ground

While there are many benefits to feeding birds on the ground, there are also some potential problems to consider.


One potential problem is the messiness associated with ground feeding. Bird seed that is scattered on the ground can be easily kicked or blown around, creating a greater mess compared to using traditional feeders. However, there are ways to minimize this issue, such as using low platform feeders or placing bird seed in specific areas where spills can be easily cleaned.

Attracting Pests

Feeding birds on the ground may also attract pests such as squirrels, raccoons, or rodents. These animals are opportunistic and will take advantage of any available food sources. To prevent this, it is important to use bird feeders that are specifically designed to deter pests or to place the bird seed in a location that is less accessible to these creatures.

Increased Vulnerability to Predators

Another concern when feeding birds on the ground is the increased vulnerability to predators. Ground-feeding birds may become easier targets for cats or other predators that can easily ambush them. To minimize this risk, it is important to create a safe environment for the birds by providing adequate cover or placing the bird seed in an area that is visible from a distance, allowing birds to detect predators and escape if necessary.

Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Ideal Places to Put Bird Seed on the Ground

When feeding birds on the ground, there are specific places where bird seed can be effectively placed.

Bare Soil

One ideal place to put bird seed on the ground is on bare soil. Birds can easily spot the food on the ground and can use their natural foraging techniques to pick up the seeds. This method allows for easy clean-up as well, as spilled seed can simply be absorbed by the soil.

Crusts of Snow

During the winter months, crusts of snow can serve as an excellent platform for bird seed. Birds can land on the snow and pick at the seeds, providing them with a much-needed food source during colder periods. Additionally, the contrast between the white snow and the darker seeds can make it easier to observe and enjoy the feeding birds.

Cement Sidewalks or Patios

Cement sidewalks or patios can also be suitable places to put bird seed on the ground. The hard surface makes it easier for birds to access the seed, and any spilled seed can be easily swept or washed away. However, it is important to ensure that the bird seed is not placed in areas where it can create a slipping hazard for both birds and humans.

Using Low Platform Feeders

To further enhance the ground feeding experience for birds, low platform feeders can be used. These feeders provide a dedicated space for birds to access the seed while minimizing the messiness associated with scattering seed on the ground.


One option for a low platform feeder is using saucers, such as those used for potted plants. These saucers can be filled with bird seed and placed directly on the ground. The wide surface area of the saucer allows for multiple birds to feed at once, creating a communal feeding environment.


Another option is using shallow bowls as feeders. These bowls can be placed on the ground or elevated slightly on low supports. The shallow design allows birds to easily reach the seed while reducing the risk of seed spills.

Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Types of Seeds to Feed Birds on the Ground

When feeding birds on the ground, it is important to provide them with appropriate seeds that cater to their specific dietary needs. Here are some common types of seeds that are suitable for ground-feeding birds:

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

Black oil sunflower seeds are a popular choice for many bird species. They have a high nutritional value and are easily accessible for birds. Their small size makes them ideal for ground-feeding birds to pick up and consume.

Red Milo

Red milo is a type of grain that is commonly used in bird seed mixes. It is appealing to many ground-feeding birds and provides them with essential carbohydrates and proteins.

Cracked Corn

Cracked corn is another popular seed choice for ground-feeding birds. It is high in energy and can attract a wide variety of bird species to your yard. However, it is important to note that cracked corn may also attract larger pests such as raccoons or squirrels.

White Proso Millet

White proso millet is a common seed found in many bird seed blends. It is small in size and easily consumed by ground-feeding birds. This seed is highly attractive to many species, making it a versatile option for feeding birds on the ground.

Attracting Ground Feeding Birds with Platform Feeders

To attract ground-feeding birds to your yard, consider using a platform feeder. A platform feeder provides a dedicated space where birds can feel secure while feeding. By using a platform feeder, you can minimize messiness, reduce the risks associated with ground feeding, and create an inviting environment for birds.

Feeding Birds on the Ground: Simple and Inexpensive

Observing Ground-Feeding Birds from Inside Your Home

For those who want to observe ground-feeding birds without disturbing them, it is important to have a clear and unobstructed view from inside your home. This can be achieved by strategically placing windows or glass doors that overlook the area where the birds are feeding. By observing them from the comfort of your home, you can admire their behavior and enjoy their presence without causing them any distress.

Feeding birds on the ground is a simple and inexpensive way to attract a variety of bird species to your yard. By understanding their preferences, providing suitable food sources, and creating a safe feeding environment, you can enjoy the beauty and wonder of these ground-feeding birds right in your own backyard. So grab a bag of bird seed, find a suitable spot on the ground, and get ready to welcome a flock of feathered friends!

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