5 Tips to Attract Chickadees to Your Bird Feeder

If you put up a bird feeder, chances are that Black-Capped Chickadees will be the first to find it. This energetic bird is a familiar visitor to backyards across the upper-half of North America year-round.

A map showing the range of Black-Capped Chickadees in North America.
The range map for Black-Capped Chickadees. Image source: Wikipedia

Chickadees are remarkably tame. When I was a toddler, I walked right up to a Chickadee in the backyard and touched it. They can also be taught to eat bird seed straight from your hand if you’re patient enough!

Truth be told, if you hang up any bird feeder in their range, a Black-Capped Chickadee will likely appear. You don’t need special help for that. But, there are certain foods and things you can do to keep them coming back regularly.

These are my top tips below on bringing Chickadees to your yard.

Related Content: What’s the best bird seed? Read my comprehensive guide to bird feed

1. Attract Chickadees by Offering Sunflower Seed

Chickadees love both shelled and de-shelled sunflower seeds. They will gladly eat any cardinal seed blend you find. One of my favorite sights is seeing a Chickadee snag a sunflower seed, fly away and hide it in a nearby tree.

Beginners Tip: I recommend sunflower as your first bird seed purchase. It’s a crowd pleaser for Chickadees, Cardinals, Finches, Nuthatches and more

Sunflower chips, black oil sunflower and striped sunflower seeds all work really well at bringing in curious Chickadees. It’s more a matter of preference. I use sunflower chips to avoid any mess of seed hulls beneath and around my feeders.

Oh, and please look for quality sunflower bird seeds that’s free from fillers. Some red flags: Red milo, oats and wheat. This tip applies for any bird you’re looking to attract! The only birds who enjoy eating seed mixes with fillers are pest birds like Starlings and House Sparrows.

Related: The Best Bird Seeds on Amazon (Top 10 List)

It's easy to attract chickadees by offering them sunflower seeds.
CHICKADEE FACT: They have great memory (which is why they’re able to cache dozens of seeds at a time in different locations. They also have the ability to swap old brain cells for new ones, making them of interest to scientists studying human diseases like Alzheimers and Parkinson’s Disease.

2. Attract Chickadees with Mealworms

Mealworms are a secret weapon of mine to keep multiple Chickadees coming to my feeders ever day. They go wild for both live and dried mealworms. I’ve noticed that they love them so much that they often stay at the feeder to eat them right away. This is an amusing sight as the chickadee puts the worm between its feet and chows down.

I usually keep things simple and use these dried mealworms. They can be served in a separate tray feeder, or mixed into a seed blend for some added protein. Birds, especially Chickadees, love them. Live mealworms are even more successful at bringing in Bluebirds and other species.

Related Content: What Birds Eat Mealworms?

3. Put Your Feeder Near Trees and Brush

Chickadees aren’t particular about the type of feeder you put out. It’s much more important to consider where you put the feeder.

Chickadees like having a tree or bush nearby they can fly back and forth to. As previously mentioned, Chickadees prefer to snag a seed at feeders before flying away.

It’s helpful to put a feeder under or near any other natural cover you have so that the birds feel safer from predators when they visit.

Black capped chickadees are familiar backyard visitors. Attract Chickadees with sunflower seeds, planting native plants and by offering a water source for birds!
CHICKADEE FACT: They will eat the fat of dead animals in the winter.

4. Have a Water Source/Bird Bath

This tip applies to any bird you’re looking to attract to your yard and is especially important if you’re in a cold climate region in the winter. Most of the water freezes and consuming snow for water can cost birds a lot of precious energy and body heat.

Offer a bird bath with a heater, and your yard will quickly become a beacon for thirsty birds (including chicakdees!) who need a drink or bath.

Bonus: You can also invest in a bird bath water wiggler to create movement in your water source. This will attract the attention of even more birds with the noise and visual it creates! Here’s an example from my local Wild Bird Store.

5. Black-Capped Chickadees Go Nuts for Peanuts

I love offering peanut bits in my platform feeder. Chickadees (and several other birds) love it!

Looking for one more thing to offer at your feeders? Start putting out peanuts (unsalted/unseasoned). Peanuts are a high-fat and protein-packed treat for birds. Chickadees like peanuts out of the shell. Their tiny beaks makes it difficult to break into large peanut shells.

Peanut also attract fun birds like the boisterous Blue Jay, Nuthatches and Woodpeckers. I have a bird feeder specifically for peanuts and have had great results…just watch out for squirrels.

Look for peanut pieces online, or at your local hardware or bird food store.

Related Content: The Definitive Bird Seed Power Rankings

You can attract chickadees by offering them peanuts at bird feeders.
CHICKADEE FACT: They will usually take one seed at a time from your bird feeder and hide it somewhere. They can remember a food hiding space for a month or more!

Beyond the five tips above, I’ve also seen Chickadees eat suet (peanut-flavored especially), nyjer and safflower seeds. The beauty of Chickadees is that they’re curious birds and will be consistent guests at your home once you put out some of their favorite foods.

My current bird feeding set up consistently draws in a trio of chickadees daily to a mix of sunflower seed, peanuts and mealworms that I serve in a house-style hopper feeder.

I recommend this webpage by the Cornell Bird Lab if you’re curious about learning more about Chickadees.

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page are Amazon affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. (There’s no extra cost to you if you do this).


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