Common birds seen at feeders

Below is a list of birds that are among the most commonly seen visiting feeders in Tennessee and the southeast. For more information feel free to click on the title of each bird to view their description on


carolina chickadee

This little gray, black and white bird is very common and usually one of the first to find a new feeder. They typically fly up, take a seed, then fly off to a nearby branch where they will hold the seed between their feet and peck it open. They love a variety of seed including black oil sunflower, safflower, and shelled peanuts.

tufted Titmouse

The Tufted Titmouse is often seen in company with chickadees. They, too, are common and quick to find a new feeder.  The Titmouse is a "clinger" which means it can easily use a feeder without a perch simply by clinging to a feed port or to a wire tube as seen in the photo. Don't be fooled by their small size.  One of their favorite foods is peanuts in or out of the shell.  Preferred feeders: Tube, tray, and peanut feeders.

Downy Woodpecker

The Downy Woodpecker measuring in at 6.5 inches is the smallest of woodpeckers in the southeast. If you have any type of wooded area near your feeder this little woodpecker will be present. Outer tail feathers are white and spotted black. Males have a small red spot on the back of their head or nape, females do not.  Favorite foodsof the Downy woodpecker are shelled peanuts, hulled and black oil sunflower, and especially suet. 

hairy woodpecker

The Hairy woodpecker is larger than the Downy measuring in a 9" and with a longer thorn-like beak. Unlike Downy Woodpeckers, Hairy Woodpeckers never feed on weed stalks, cattails, or reeds. Tending to prefer tree trunks and downed trees where they forage for insects and the larvae of the bark beetle. 20% of the Hairy's diet is fruits and seeds which make seed and suet feeders favorites of this medium sized woodpecker.

Red bellied woodpecker

The Red-bellied woodpecker like the Downy is also very common at feeders. Named after the red blush on their belly this handsome bird typically visits feeders with peanuts and suet, and will readily accept sunflower seed.  Red-bellies are found in woodlands and forests, from old stands of oak and hickory to young hardwoods and pines. Females can be identified between males by the lack of red on the crown of the dead. Check out our bird bio blog post on the Red-bellied woodpecker.

The White-breasted Nuthatch prefers sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet and can be seen in yards close to mature woodlands. One notable behavior difference between the nuthatch and woodpeckers is the way they travel up and down trees. Woodpeckers will remain upright as they travel up or down where the nuthatch will move head first down the tree trunk.

Eastern tohee

Similar in size to a Mockingbird the Eastern Towhee measures about 8" long and is more often seen on the ground below feeders than on them. The exception to this is an open tray feeder which can attract more of a variety of birds including ground feeding birds.  

Northern cardinal

Cardinals are one of the most recognizable of all songbirds in the southeast. The Northern cardinal is a very common bird in most backyards and can been seen in almost every type of habitat such as backyards, parks, woodlots, and shrubby forest edges. Lovers of sunflower and safflower they like tray and hopper style feeders as well as ground feeding. Tube feeders are not their preferred type but will use them.


American Goldfinch

The American Goldfinch eat seeds almost exclusively and prefers sunflower and nyjer seed at feeders. They are communal birds preferring to feed in groups. Goldfinches move around quite a bit from day to day so feeder activity can come in waves depending on the time of year. Not letting feeders get too low before refilling can bring more birds and help sustain numbers at feeders.

house finch

House Finch are very common at backyard feeders and are often seen in groups of three of more. The House Finch was originally a bird of the western United States and Mexico. The birds range was divided by the rocky mountains. In 1940, after failed attempts to sell them as cage birds, a small number of finches were turned loose on Long Island, New York. They have become one of the more common feeder birds. These birds like sitting and shelling sunflower and safflower seeds on feeders.  

blue jay

The Blue Jay is in the same family as the crow and if you spend any time watching their behavior it's easy to spot similarities. One of the more beautiful songbirds, we often refer to the Blue jay as the police of the backyard. They are known to sound the alarm when predators are around and are often seen chasing off birds of prey and snakes. Jay's prefer tray and hopper feeders and will feed on sunflower and suet but love peanuts in the shell the most.