What Birds Eat

Nectar Ring Tree Earring Bird Feeder

I get so many questions about what to fed the birds. So here is a bit of information that might be useful. It’s based around the birds that visit Wellington gardens but should cover most you commonly see.

  • Tui and Bellbirds or Koromiko mainly feed on nectar from many native and introduced plant species so will feed on sugar water from bird feeders.They also eat fruit and they glean invertebrates like insects and spiders
  • If Hihi or Stichbird visit, they feed on fruits and nectar but also on invertebrates.
  • Silver eye or Wax eye are omnivorous and feed on fruit and berries, nectar and a wide range of insects. They visit bird feeders more than any other species in NZ, where they eat fruit and voraciously feed on fat or lard, especially in winter.
  • Chaffinch come to the feeders for seed , cereal and fat especially in winter. They eat bugs, aphids, beetles, moths, cicadas and spiders . Chicks are fed almost entirely on invertebrates.
  • Yellowhammers eat the seed from grasses and also eat invertebrates. They will feed on seeds from bird feeders.
  • Green finches are mainly seed and cereals but again eat some invertebrates.
  • House sparrows feed on seeds and cereals , fruit and buds. Again a portion of their diet are invertebrates especially for the nestlings.
  • Starlings mostly feed on earthworms, caterpillars, beetles etc but do eat fruit and nectar. They take food scrapes in towns and I have seen them at the bird feeders, especially when fat balls are on offer.
  • Blackbirds like Starlings, forage on the ground and in leaf litter eating worms, slugs and snails and other insects and spiders. They eat fruit and berries and are often in the bird feeders, usually after the fat balls, I think.
  • For Wellingtonians lucky enough to see Kaka in the garden its best to leave them to their natural diet of grubs, berries, seeds and the nectar of kowhai, rata and flax. Feeding kaka things like cheese, cake, chocolate and biscuits can effect the chicks. Some have been found with metabolic bone disease which is thought to be caused by an unhealthy sweet diet
  • You would be very lucky to see Kakariki but the eastern rosella parakeet are around and feed on seeds, fruit, flowers, buds and invertebrates.
  • Fantails are omnivorous and mostly hawk for invertebrates on the wing. They sometimes come to feeders for fruit.
  • For the Kereru, foods include the buds, leaves, flowers and fruits of introduced and native species, I have never seen them in bird feeders.

My rule of thumb is fruit and nectar for the native birds and include fat for the Wax eyes. Seeds and cereal for the introduced birds. I like to feed them all and put out a bit of both.