What Types Of Bird Seed Are There - Which Are Best?
When it comes to types of 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
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.
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.
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 - 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 and 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 as the seed is sterilized before brought into this country.
A special feeder with small ports will be needed when offering this seed. For a variety of these feeder see: Thistle Feeder
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.
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 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 - 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)