Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types

Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types

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Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types. The seed that draws the largest range of birds and is the primary source of food of most bird feeders in the backyard is sunflower. Other kinds of seeds are able to benefit draw different kinds of birds. Which can benefit round out your backyard bird feeders. Mixtures with red millet, oatmeal and others “fillers” are not attractive to birds in general and could cause enough waste as the birds comb through the mixture.

Here’s a quick overview of seeds, which includes:

  • Sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Nyjer, or thistle
  • White Proso Millet
  • Cracked and shelled corn
  • Peanuts
  • Milo or sorghum
  • Golden millet and red millet flax, and many more
  • Canary seed and rapeseed



There are two types of sunflowers: black oil and striped. The oil seeds that are black (“oilers”) contain extremely thin shells. Which are easy for most seed-eating birds to open up, and the kernels inside have large fat content and are extremely beneficial to many winter birds. Seeds of sunflower with stripes have a larger shell. Making it much more difficult to House Sparrows and blackbirds to break open. Therefore, if you’re overwhelmed by species that you’d rather not support by eating your black sunflower before doing anything else, consider changing to stripes of sunflower.

Apartment dwellers or have difficulty raking seeds off of their feeders usually offer sunflowers that are shelled. A lot of birds enjoy this, and so do squirrels. It’s also costly. Without the protection provided by the shell the sunflower chips and hearts rapidly degrade. May contain harmful bacteria, which is why it’s crucial to serve no more than what can be consumed within a few days or.

Sunflowers are extremely attractive to squirrels, which is a challenge for those who don’t want to support them. Certain kinds of squirrel baffles. As well as certain feeders that are specially designed, can be quite effective at removing squirrels. Sunflowers that are in the shell is available in a variety of feeders like tubes. Trays or hoppers, as well as clear window feeders. Sunflower chips and hearts shouldn’t be served in tube feeders in which moisture could accumulate.


Safflower has a tough shell that is difficult for certain birds to break open, but it is a favorite of cardinals. Certain grosbeaks, chickadees doves as well as native sparrows consume it. According to some sources house Sparrows, European Starlings, and squirrels aren’t fond of Safflowers, but some regions it appears that they have a hankering for it.

Grobeaks and Cardinals generally prefer feeders with hoppers and tray This makes feeders an ideal choice to offer Safflower.

Nyjer Or Thistle

Small finches like American Goldfinches, Lesser Goldfinches, Indigo Buntings. Pine Siskins and Common Redpolls frequently eat the tiny, black needle-shaped seeds. Since the spread of invasive thistle plants were a well-known issue within North America, suppliers shifted to a daisy-like plant also known as Guizotia Abyssinica and produces a similar kind of tiny, oily, and high-quality seeds. This plant is now known as niger or nyjer and is imported from the world. The seeds are sterilized at the time of importation to minimize the chance of them spreading, but still retain their value as food.

White Proso Millet

White Proso Millet

White millet is popular among ground-feeding birds, including the quails and native American doves, sparrows, towhees, juncos and cardinals. It’s also a popular choice among blackbirds, cowbirds, as well as House Sparrows, which are already being subsidized by human activity and are being supported at unnaturally high populations due to current farming practices and habitat alteration. If these species are in the area it’s accurate not to millet as a majority of the birds that love it also like sunflowers with black oil.

Since white millet is loved by birds that feed on the ground and other birds, it is usually spread out on the ground. This is a great option, as long as more than birds can eat during the course of a day. Tray feeders with low-set and great drainage could be an excellent option for white millet as well.

Shelled And Cracked Corn

Corn is consumed by grouse and pheasants as well as turkeys and cardinals. It is also eaten by quails, ravens, grosbeaks, crows jays, doves cranes, ducks and many other species. The problem is that corn has two major issues. It is a top favorite for House Sparrows, cowbirds, geese, starlings, bears, raccoons and deer, none of which ought to be supported by us. In addition, it’s the most likely bird food to contain aflatoxins, which are highly harmful even at very low levels. Do not purchase the corn from plastic baggies, do not let it become wet, and never serve quantities that cannot be eaten when it is very humid or rainy weather. Also, be careful when raking old corn.

Check Out Project FeederWatch For More Resources

Don’t offer corn sprayed with red dye. The corn intended for plantation is usually treated with fungicides. It is also which are marked with red dye to serve to warn. It is extremely harmful to livestock, humans and birds of all kinds.

Never give popcorn that is buttered or any microwave popcorn. Popped corn spoils quickly.

Corn should be provided in small quantities at a given time on tray feeders. Do not offer corn in tube feeders that might be a source of moisture.


Peanuts are a favorite among chickadees, jays, crows woodpeckers, titmice and many more species, yet they are loved by bears, squirrels, raccoons, and many other species that shouldn’t be subsidized. As with corn, peanuts also have the potential to harbor aflatoxins, and therefore need to be dried out and eaten up quickly.

Peanuts inside the shells can be placed on feeders that are platform-based or on a deck railing, or window feeder to add a unique treat for jays if they can reach them before squirrels do. If peanuts, or mixtures of peanuts as well as other seeds are available inside tube feeders be sure to replace the seeds often, particularly during wet or humid weather. thoroughly emptying and cleaning the tube each time.

Milo Or Sorghum

Milo is a favorite of numerous Western feeders of the earth. In Cornell Lab of Ornithology seed preference tests, Steller’s Jays Curve-billed Thrashers, as well as Gambel’s Quails preferred milo to sunflower. In another study House Sparrows did not eat milo, however cowbirds did.

Milo should be spread on the ground or in small tray feeders. Do not offer it if giving cowbirds a subsidy.

Golden Millet, Red Millet, Flax, And Others

These seeds are typically utilized as fillers in mix of birdseeds that are packaged, but the majority of birds do not like these seeds. They can be an ideal fertile ground for fungus and bacteria which can infect fresh seed faster. It is important to review the list of ingredients in birdseed mix, avoiding ones that contain these seeds. Particularly, if a mixture contains many small, red seeds, be sure that they’re sorghum or milo, not millet that is red.

Rapeseed And Canary Seed

The two types of seeds do not offer much more than the more common seeds. A few birds do eat rapeseed, including quails, doves, finches, and juncos. If you’re not eating these birds, the rapeseed is left to rot. Canary seed is extremely loved by House Sparrows and cowbirds–birds that majority of people do not want to be attracted by. Other species that consume canary seeds are equally content with sunflowers, which means this is an excellent all-around option.


Is there a perfect seeds to feed birds?

Sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are the ones that are loved by the majority of birds that eat seeds around 40 species, such as cardinals, tufted titmice, Carolina chickadees, house and purple finches American goldfinches nuthatches with brown heads, and red-bellied woodpeckers, just to just only a few.

What do you feed your birds?

Select feeders that do not have sharp edges or sharp points; the layout should allow birds to sway off the feed, preventing it from becoming dirty. Install multiple feeders and leave plenty of space between them to prevent the possibility of crowding. Select a feeder that has drainage holes. You can also add a dome made of plastic to ensure that the seed stays dry.

What’s in bird seed?

Sunflower Safflower Nyjer, and peanuts vary between 20-25 percent protein and 20-40 percent fat. They are the reason they make up most of the Wild Bird Habitat’s most popular high-quality bird feed mix. You’ll see “cheap” mixes that are full of wheat, milo red millet, as well as other grains that birds do not enjoy eating.

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