Do Deer Eat Bird Seed? Tips to Protect Your Feeders in 2023

I have always wondered, do deer eat bird seed? As a nature lover and passionate about all things deer-related, I decided to do some research. Here are my findings and tips to protect your feeders in 2023.

Deer are known to eat bird seed if they are in a state of hunger, however, it is not their first preference. In order to attract deer, one should consider other food sources like fruits, vegetables or corn. It is recommended to avoid bird seed as the main food source for deer as it does not provide them with the necessary nutrition required for their overall health and well-being.

Do Deer Eat Bird Seed?

It is a common question among backyard bird enthusiasts whether deer eat bird seed or not. The answer is yes, they do eat bird seed but it’s not their preferred food option. Deer are grazing animals and prefer to consume grass, shrubs, and other types of foliage. However, if they’re hungry enough and bird seed is a readily available food source, they might take the opportunity to enjoy a little snack.

While deer eating bird seed might not seem like a big deal, it can become a problem if you’re trying to attract birds to your feeders. For example, if the bird seed is in short supply, then feeding deer might prevent birds from visiting your feeders. Additionally, deer can be quite large and clumsy, which increases the risk of damage to both your feeder and the surrounding area.

What Do Deer Eat?

As mentioned earlier, deer prefer to eat grass, shrubs, and other types of foliage. They also enjoy fruits, vegetables, and corn. By providing them with these foods, you can help prevent them from eating bird seed and from damaging your bird feeders. Deer need a balanced diet to remain healthy, just like any other animal.

How to Keep Deer Away From Bird Feeders

For those residing in regions abundant in deer populations, deterring them from accessing bird feeders may pose a challenge. Nevertheless, there are numerous tactics that can be employed to dissuade them:

1. Position Your Bird Feeders High Up

One of the easiest ways to keep deer away from bird feeders is to hang them high up. Deer are creatures of habit and are less likely to venture off their beaten path, and if they do, they will not jump over something too tall. Ideally, the bird feeders should be suspended from a tree at least six feet off the ground using a high-quality metal pole.

2. Install a Motion Detector Sprinkler

Deer are scared of motion, and they don’t like cold water. By installing a motion detector sprinkler, you can keep the deer away from the bird feeders. When the motion detector senses any movement, it will set off an alarm, and the sprinkler will turn on. Soon enough, the deer will get the message and stay clear of your bird feeders.

3. Use Deer Deterrent Repellents

You can use natural or chemical repellents to keep deer away from your bird feeders. Some natural repellents include planting fragrant herbs like lavender, rosemary, and thyme around the feeders. You can also use commercial deer repellents that are readily available in garden centers and hardware stores.

4. Install a Fence Around the Bird Feeders

Practice wildlife management and control by installing a fence around the bird feeder will keep the deer from getting access. Depending on the size of the area you want to protect, you can use plastic, wooden or metal fencing. A six to eight foot fence would be ideal since deer can’t jump over it. You can also reinforce the bottom of the fence with chicken wire.

If you install a fence it is important to make sure that deer can’t see what’s on the other side of the fence, otherwise they may still jump.

5. Provide a Deer Feeder

Another way to keep deer away from your bird feeders is to provide them with their own feeder. When the deer have an alternative source of food, they will be less likely to eat the bird feed. Place the deer feeder at a distance from the bird feeder, and make sure it’s positioned in an area that is easily accessible to the deer.

6. Remove Scent From Bird Feeders

Deer have a powerful sense of smell, and it’s one of the ways they locate food. To keep them away, you must remove the scent from the bird feeders. The best way to do this is to clean the bird feeders regularly and replace the bird feed with no-scent options.

7. Feed birds with food that deer dislike

Bird feeding lovers who are tired of deer invading their bird feeders can try feeding suet, certain types of seeds, or nectar as an alternative. Deer are known for their attraction to birdseed, but they have less interest in these alternate foods.

Suet is a high-calorie winter bird food made from animal fat, mixed with nuts, seeds, and fruit. Thistle seeds, on the other hand, are mainly attractive to finches, chickadees, and siskins. Nectar can also be hung vertically to attract hummingbirds, and peanuts, dried corn, and Kinglet mix can also be used as bird food alternatives.

By choosing bird feed that deer don’t like, you can help prevent deer from eating all the feeder’s contents while still fueling your backyard bird sanctuary.

DIY Solutions

If you desire to prevent deer from snacking on your bird feeders, consider implementing some do-it-yourself methods:

  • Erect a tall pole near the feeding area to hoist the feeders up and down easily.
  • Use some sort of mechanism, like a pulley system, that simplifies adjusting the height of the feeders.
  • If you’re a skilled craftsman with spare time on your hands, you can construct a custom cage that obstructs the deer from accessing the feeders.


What type of bird seed lures deer?

In terms of wildlife management, it may be important to know that certain types of birdseed can attract deer. Specifically, research has shown that black sunflower seeds may be highly preferred by deer when they are young. However, it is worth noting that deer do not appear to be attracted to safflower or Nyjer seeds, which have a bitter taste. To avoid unintentionally attracting deer, it is recommended to use a raised platform to catch spilled birdseed rather than scattering it on the ground.

Prevent deer from consuming bird seed.

Protect your bird seed from deer by using a raised platform to catch any overflow rather than allowing the seed to scatter on the ground. Additionally, opt for bitter-tasting seeds like safflower and Nyjer instead of shelled corn and sunflower seeds, which are known to attract deer. If you’re looking to feed doves, consider black sunflower, but be aware that it is highly preferred by deer when young. By following these guidelines, you can enjoy feeding your birds without inviting unwanted wildlife.

Can bird feeders bring in deer?

It has been observed that deer are often lured by bird feeders, which can lead to damage in the surrounding areas. It is suggested to use elevated platforms to catch any spilled bird feed instead of scattering it on the ground to avoid attracting deer. Additionally, while deer may be drawn towards shelled corn and high-oil seeds like black sunflower when young, they are not inclined towards bitter-tasting seeds like safflower and nyjer.


So, the age-old question remains: Do deer eat bird seed? While it’s possible for them to snack on some stray seeds, it’s not their go-to meal choice. In fact, offering them a more balanced and nutritious diet will not only keep them healthy but also prevent them from raiding your bird feeders.

If you want to attract deer to your backyard, consider offering them fruits, vegetables, or corn. And if you’re a bird lover who wants to protect your feeders from these wandering grazers, try using a specially designed deer-proof feeder or creating a physical barrier around them. With a little bit of prevention and planning, you can enjoy the company of both birds and deer in your outdoor space.

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