What Types Of Wild Bird Seed Are There - Which Are Best?

When it comes to types of wild bird seed, there are plenty. How do you decide on which is the best? The list below will help you understand what is availble and what birds will be attracted to the various varieties.

You'll notice that there is some overlaping of seed to birds. Knowing what individual species like will take the guess work out of what you want to offer in your bird feeders.

Think about the species you want visiting your backyard then, by using the chart at the bottom of this page, you'll be able to make your decision much easier.

Below I discuss the most common types you see on the store shelves. This will offer you a place to start.

By the way, don't forget to try something new. You may find birds in your backyard you never knew were there!

Types Of Bird Seed for Wild Birds

Black-oil Sunflower Bird Seed Black-Oil Sunflower Seed - Considered the #1 choice to feed and attract the greatest variety of birds to your feeders. Rich in oil, black oil sunflower seeds give birds the energy they need to live. The thin shell makes it an easy bird seed to open, even for the smaller birds.

Offer this type of food in Hopper or Tube type bird feeder. You'll attract Cardinals, Nuthatches, finches, and a variety of others. If you are going to offer only one type, give black oil sunflower seed a try.

hulled sunflower seed Hulled Sunflower Seed - This type is the same as above except that the shell has been removed. Because it is more expensive, Offer it in a squirrel proof type feeder.

The nice thing about offering sunflower hearts and chips is that there is no mess, since all of the bird seed will be eaten. Sometimes black oil sunflower seed left on the ground prevents some plants from growing.

If this is a concern in the area you are feeding birds try using hulled seed instead. You'll attract the same birds without the mess.

safflower seed Safflower is a favorite seed of the Northern Cardinal. House Finches and Mourning Doves will also feed on this type. The nice thing is that most squirrels will leave it alone and you can place it on a platform/hopper feeder. Cardinals can more easily feed from tray/platform feeders rather than ones with small perches.

nyjer seed for finch birds Nyjer - Thistle Seed Thistle, or more accurately, Nyjer seed, is a finch favorite. A specialty food loved by Goldfinches, Purple Finches and even Mourning Doves. This tiny black seed from India and Africa is available at most places that offer wild bird food. Long used in Canary mixes, its now common as a wild bird food source.

Goldfinches are attracted more to the nyjer than sunflower seed. Every year we present both kinds, and every year the finches arrive. Pine Siskins also like nyjer seed. And yes, even as tiny as this seed is it still has a shell (hull) that will pile up on the ground. Fortunately, the seeds will not sprout because the seed was sterilized before entering the U.S.

A special feeder with small ports will be needed when offering this seed. For a variety of these feeder see: Thistle Feeder

bird seed mixture with stripped sunflower seed Striped Sunflower - While most birds prefer black oil sunflower to striped sunflower seed, it still remains a cheaper alternative. Try placing some on a platform feeder to prevent squirrels and raccoons from raiding your feeders. Place it away from your other feeders.

The shell is harder than black oil sunflower seed making it more difficult for small birds to open. Still, Bluejays, Cardinals, and some Woodpeckers will make use of striped sunflower.

whole corn for game birds Cracked or Whole Kernel Corn - will attract Eastern Bluebirds, Jays, Pheasants, and other game birds. By offering cracked corn throughout the year, you'll be able to watch birds that normally don't visit your other feeders. Available at feed supply and birdwatching aisles of most stores.

It is best to place cracked corn on platform feeders or scattered on the ground for game birds. Be aware that mammals will also be visiting. These include raccoons and opossums along with rodents.

premium bird seed mix Premium Mixes - These are packages of a mixture of bird seeds that are attractive to a variety of birds. Generally consisting of black oil sunflower, peanut, millet, striped sunflower, and others mixed together.

Personally, I prefer to offer each separately. Less desirable birds may drive the more desirable birds away.

Cheap Mixes - While they won't be labled as such, cheap mixes rarely attract the most desirable birds. Generally consisting of red and white milo, cracked corn, wheat, striped sunflower and other seeds.

Any desirable birds that feed on these types of bird seed, will readily come to eat at any of the other types you place in your yard. Most of the cheaper mixes are derivatives of the poultry industry. And as such, are not suited for bird watching enthusiast.

suet for nuthatches and woodpeckers Suet - While not a bird seed, so many birds are attracted to suet that it must be discussed here. Suet is made from beef fat. Most bird watching stores offer suet with bird seed, berries, and peanut butter mixed in with the suet.

Some of the birds that enjoy suet are: Black Capped Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthaches, and Wrens. Offer suet in a suet feeder, a special wire cage made to hold suet.

Once you decide which birds you want to attract, you'll find the Bird Seed here.

CHART FOR FEEDING BIRDS

Bird Feeding Chart Provided by Dad's Woodshed LLC (used with permission)

Type of Bird

Food Preference

Blue Jays Sunflower seed, safflower, cracked corn, peanuts, suet, bread, peanut butter, lard mixes, seed mixes
House Finch Mixed seed, peanuts, fruit, suet, nyjer, sunflower, safflower,
Gold Finch nyger, sunflower seed, hulled sunflower, millet, fruit, suet, peanuts
House Wren Suet, bread crumbs
House Sparrow Mixed seed, sunflower seeds
Wrens Suet, suet mix, peanut butter, bread, apples
Indigo Bunting Peanuts, millet, variety of seeds
Northern Flicker Suet, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, fruit, meat, bread
Oriole Oranges, apples, grape jelly, oriole jelly, sugar water, soft raisins
Painted Bunting Sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Pine Grosbeak Sunflower seeds, grain
Pine Siskin Nuts, rolled oats, nyjer, mixed seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, millet, suet
Purple Finch Sunflower seeds, nyjer
Red Crossbills Sunflower seeds, nyjer
Red Poll Suet, bread, sunflower seeds
Red Winged Blackbird Bread, cracked corn, mixed seeds, sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, millet, suet
Robins, Bluebirds, Thrushes Apples, sunflower seed, bread, grapes, suet, mealworms, berries, raisins, nut meal, seed mixes
Rose Breasted Grosbeaks Sunflower seeds, grapes, orange halves
American Gold Finch Sunflower seeds, nyjer
Black Billed Magpie Meat, bread
Bobwhite Quail Sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Brown Headed Cowbird Bread, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Bushtit Bread, sunflower seeds, bird seed mixes
Cardinals Cracked corn, nuts, sunflower seeds, safflower, millet, peanuts, apple, bread
Black Capped Chickadees Sunflower seeds, peanuts, bread, suet
Crows Bread, scraps, corn, suet
Magpies Scraps, suet, peanuts, bread
Downy Woodpeckers Sunflower seeds, corn, cornbread, peanut butter, suet, shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds
Grosbeaks Sunflower seeds, safflower, apple, fruit, suet, millet, bread, peanut kernels
Buntings Sunflower seeds, safflower, apple, fruit, suet, millet, bread, peanut kernels
Grackles Sunflower seeds, bread, scraps
Titmouse Sunflower seeds, suet, bread, safflower, peanuts, peanut kernel
Chickadees Peanut kernel, sunflower seeds, suet, bread, safflower
Nuthatches Suet, suet mix, sunflower seeds, nuts, cracked corn, bread
Creepers Suet, suet mix, sunflower seeds, nuts, cracked corn, bread
Mockingbirds Halved apples, fruit, bread, suet, sunflower seeds, nuts
Thrashers Halved apples, fruit, bread, suet, sunflower seeds, nuts
Flycatchers, Phoebes Bees, wasps, ants, mealworms
Kinglets Suet, bread
Waxwings Berries, raisins, sliced apple, canned peas, currants, grapes
Warblers Suet, suet mix, water, fruit, breads, sugar water, nut pieces
Tanagers Suet, fruit, sugar water, mealworms, bread
Song Sparrows Sunflower seeds, seed mixes, bread, nyjer, millet
Starlings Bread, scraps, suet
Stellers Jays Nuts, scraps, suet
Tree Sparrows Wild bird seed mixes, millet
Sparrows Millet, peanut kernels, suet, bread, canary seed, sunflower seed
White Breasted Nuthatches Peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet, safflower
Hairy Woodpeckers Sunflower seeds, nuts, cheese, apples, bananas, suet, peanut butter
Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers Nutmeats, suet, fruit
Quail Cracked corn, millet, berries
Pigeons Cracked corn, sunflower seeds, milo, bread, nyjer, nuts
Doves Cracked corn, sunflower seeds, milo, bread, nyjer, nuts
Roadrunners Meat scraps, suet
Hummingbirds Plant nectars, small insects, sugar water, instant nectars
Woodpeckers Insects, fruit, sunflower seeds, suet, nuts, sugar water
Western Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers Orange halves, grapes
Juncos Millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanuts, bread, nut meats, nyjer, suet
Towhees Millet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, grapes, cracked corn, suet
Rufhouse Sided Towhee Bird seed mixes, thistle, sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn
Baltimore Oriole Suet, orange halves
Brown Thrashers Orange halves, cracked corn
Carolina Wrens Suet, sunflower chips
Cat Birds Raisins, grapes, orange halves, suet
Mourning Dove Millet, nyjer, sunflower chips, safflower, cracked corn
Pileated Woodpeckers Suet
Red Bellied Woodpeckers Suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, orange halves, safflower, cracked corn

Try to set out several varieties and be sure to include a source of water both in summer and winter.

More Information

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