Do Robins Eat at Bird Feeders?

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At some point I noticed that I never saw any American Robins at my bird feeders. I regularly saw finches, titmice, cardinals, and even doves, but I never saw one of the most common song birds in North America. So then, do robins eat at bird feeders?

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

What does the American Robin eat?

The American Robin is an omnivorous bird and eats a wide variety of food in its natural environment. Here are several common things you may see a robin eating in the wild:

  • Earthworms, grubs, and caterpillars
  • Insects
  • Berries
  • Small fruits
  • And the occasional seeds

Less commonly robins may be seen eating:

  • Eggs
  • Small snakes
  • Frogs
  • Small lizards
  • Small fish

How to attract robins to a bird feeder

If you want to attract robins to your bird feeder you can offer them things like pieces of apple, berries, and dried meal worms. This article on what to feed birds from the kitchen may give you some other ideas. I recommend using a ground feeder, this fly through ground feeder on Amazon is perfect for feeding robins. They are used to finding food such as earthworms and insects on or near the ground so a nice ground feeder is ideal.

American Robins may occasionally check out your seed feeders but in general do not eat bird seed and won’t typically be frequent seed feeder visitors.

Will robins nest in a birdhouse?

robin nest

Robins prefer to make their nests on ledges like the image above. Robin’s don’t like to live in closed in spaces like birdhouses, so they will not usually nest in them. If you want robins to nest in your yard then there are many ways to build your own robin’s nesting ledge, or you can buy a pre-made robin’s nesting shelf on Amazon. Be sure you hang it underneath an overhang if you’re mounting it to your house to protect the nest from the rain.

Summary

Even though robins aren’t very common around feeders they are still one of my favorite backyard birds. I frequently see them poking in the ground for worms in my yard and it’s always a treat to come across a robin’s nest. 

We don’t typically associate them with eating seeds, but as you can see form the video below they do from time to time. 

About Jesse

Jesse enjoys bird watching and feeding birds in his backyard, learning about the different species, and sharing his knowledge and experiences.

12 thoughts on “Do Robins Eat at Bird Feeders?”

  1. I must say you are wrong about robins eating at bird feeders. For the last two years we have had robins at our bird feeders–sitting at the feeders and eating, an cleaning up leftovers that fall from the feeders and the suet. They not only do this in early spring when bugs and worms are not accessible, but they do it throughout the summer. They bring their fledglings to our deck and swoop from feeder to baby, feeding THEM from our feeders.

    Reply
    • Hi Teresa – that is quite interesting! It is very unusual behavior for American Robins to be seen at seed-only feeders regularly. I think they are lovely birds so how lucky for you that you get to observe them so often and see them feeding their young! Very cool. Out of interest, what kind of seed do you offer at the feeders that they are enjoying?

      Reply
      • That’s very interesting Anne! Both Audobon.org and The Cornell Lab of Ornithology do not list seed as part of the American Robin’s diet nor have any of us here seen American Robin’s eating seed at our feeders so that’s very cool that you have been!

        I did say in the article that American Robins may visit feeders if you offer the right types of food just not seed, the European Robin though does eat seed. Since that makes 2 reports of American Robins eating seed we did update the wording in the article a bit.

        Reply
    • Lately, a couple robins have not only been coming for suet but are out there eating sunflower seeds from the feeder. But, what do you expect, it’s 2020, God knows what else will be happening this year.

      Reply
  2. I noticed two birds building a nest under my patio cover. I watched the momma and daddy build on the nest and then start nesting. I was able to get a picture today of the wee ones. I also noticed that the birds seem to be very comfortable with my chickens. They sneak some of of the feed from my girls. I have really enjoyed watching this little family. Is there something I can setup that will encourage the birds to come back?

    Reply
    • Well it sounds like you have some platform nesters, maybe robins? Leave their nest in place if you like, sometimes other birds will come in and reuse it. You can always put out some bird houses to attract other species. I ordered this bluebird house for my own yard recently. I’ve had a lot of activity already but no tenants yet, just tire kickers lol.

      Reply
  3. I noticed a nest build on a the ledge of a window. I feel like the birds of prey can easily see it. I don’t understand why the robins would not try to build their nests in a more hidden area. I feel the baby birds won’t stand a chance.

    Reply
    • I’ve seen nests in some truly odd locations. Nobody knows but the birds why they choose the locations they do! If it’s not a successful location, they likely learn from their mistakes for the next time. Just make sure you resist the urge to relocate it, it’s actually illegal under the migratory bird act to disturb or move the nest of a native bird.

      Reply
  4. I have seen robins eating choice bend from wild birds unlimited from a tray feeder. Unless they are just picking out inserts that get in the food. Lol
    Jaqueline

    Reply
  5. We’ve been using the cardboard tube from a toilet paper roll, coating it with peanut butter, rolling that in mixed seeds, and putting it out on top of a regular bird feeder. I can’t say robins with an “s” are feeding there, but we have one robin who visits every day several times and picks seeds off the roll. He or she occasionally also goes down to the regular feeder and picks out some seeds from there too.

    Reply

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