Do Mockingbirds Eat at Bird Feeders?

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After many years of bird feeding I realized that one bird I saw often, but not at my feeders, was the mockingbird. I would see all sizes of birds from small goldfinches or large blue jays coming for the seeds, but no mockingbirds. That begs the question, do mockingbirds eat at bird feeders? 

Northern mockingbirds will typically only eat at bird feeders if you are offering food that they like. Mockingbirds do not typically eat bird seed, but do occasionally. 

What does the Northern Mockingbird eat?

The Northern Mockingbird is an omnivorous bird and eats a wide variety of food throughout the year. In general, mockingbirds eat a lot of fruit and berries during the fall and winter, then switch to mostly insects during the spring and summer. Their diet commonly includes:

  • Bees and wasps
  • Beetles
  • Caterpillars
  • Earthworms
  • Moths and  Butterflies
  • Ants
  • Grasshoppers
  • Berries
  • Small fruits
northern mockingbird on pokeweed plant
Mockingbird enjoying berries from a pokeweed plant | image by birdfeederhub.com

Less commonly mockingbirds may be seen eating:

  • Small lizards
  • Tree sap
  • Grains and seeds

How to attract mockingbirds to a bird feeder

Mockingbirds are not typically birds you will see at your feeder. However, there are always exceptions. If other sources of food are less abundant, they may be more likely to see what you have at the feeder. If they are nesting nearby or have included your yard as part of their territory, they are also more likely to visit your feeder. 

Best foods to offer for mockingbirds

Fruit is a great food to try for attracting mockingbirds to your bird feeder. Pieces of apple, orange halves, raisins, and berries are all good options. This article on what to feed birds from the kitchen may give you some other ideas.

As insect eaters, mealworms may also entice them to come to your feeder. Dried mealworms or live would both work.

Suet is another food they may stop by your feeder for. However, mockingbirds cannot hang upside down like woodpeckers can. So just make sure your feeder is upright and they can cling to it, or offer suet balls in a tray. 

If you want to stick with bird seed, you may have the best luck with hulled sunflower (shell already removed), or peanut pieces. 

I recommend using a ground feeder or a platform feeder. Mockingbirds are fairly large with long tails, and they don’t usually like to balance on the small perches of a tube or hopper feeder.

They much prefer to eat food that is “out in the open”. Amazon has this great ground feeder and this popular platform feeder, for example. Cedar platforms used on top of 4×4 posts are also great. 

two mockingbirds on a platform bird feeder
Two mockingbirds on our wooden platform feeder | image by birdfeederhub.com

How to Attract Mockingbirds To Your Yard

If nothing is working at the bird feeder, or you just want to see more mockingbirds in the yard without putting out special food, the plants you have in your yard will make a big difference. 

As we mentioned, mockingbirds love fruits and berries. Fruiting trees and shrubs are great for attracting mockingbirds, and many other bird species for that matter!

Some of the best plants for mockingbirds are: blackberry, hawthorn, mulberry, eastern red cedar, holly, juniper, crabapple, flowering dogwood, sassafras, serviceberry, winterberry, wild cherry, pokeweed, Virginia creeper, and wild grape. 

Will mockingbirds nest in a birdhouse?

female mockingbird sitting on her nest
Mockingbird on her nest | image by David Beyer via Flickr | CC BY 2.0

Mockingbirds don’t like to live in closed in spaces like birdhouses, so they will not usually nest in them. Most mockingbirds prefer to make their nests in dense shrubbery or trees with thick leaves that provide a lot of cover and keep them hidden. Hornbeam, hawthorn and holly are a few examples. 

Summary

Mockingbirds are found throughout the United States and they remain year-round, so most of us are likely to see them in the yard or in day-to-day life. We don’t typically associate them with eating seeds or visiting bird feeders, but some definitely will.

Personally, I went many years never having them visit my feeders. But recently, two mockingbirds decided to spend most of their time in my yard, and they both visit the feeder often. Even though I only had seeds out at the time, they would pick through my platform feeder or just sit on top and watch the yard.  

About Melanie

Melanie has been a birding hobbyist for years and loves feeding and photographing birds of all types.