Wild Bird Seed Varieties and Types
Date: July 14th, 2010
Want to attract a wide variety of birds? A key step is making sure you have the right food for the bird you are trying to attract! There are many different varieties of wild bird seed you can purchase to fill your home’s birdfeeder. The following guide explains which types of bird foods best attract certain wild birds.
Sunflower Seed – Sunflower seed is an excellent source of calories for birds. The seeds can be either in the shell or out of the shell (hulled). Check out the pictures below to see the difference. Hulled Sunflower Seed will attract the same birds as the regular seed, and there won’t be any leftover shells littering the ground below the birdfeeder.
Black Oil Sunflower Seed Hulled Sunflower Seed Striped Sunflower Seed
Shelled sunflower seeds come in two main varieties: black oil and striped. Black oil sunflower seeds are considered the number one choice to feed and attract the greatest variety of birds. This type of seed provides high amounts of energy and has a thin shell that is easy for even smaller birds to open. Black oil seed will attract bobwhites, chickadees, doves, finches, juncos, nuthatches, goldfinches, grosbeaks, Northern Cardinal, nuthatches, Pine Siskin, titmice, and woodpeckers.
Striped Sunflower Seed has a larger and harder shell than its counterpart, black oil. Blue jays, bobwhites, chickadees, doves, grosbeaks, Northern Cardinal, nuthatches, titmice, and woodpeckers can handle the tougher, larger shells.
Safflower Seed – This seed comes in two varieties: white and golden and is high in protein and fat. Safflower seed attracts jays, cardinals, chickadees, House Finches, doves, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, titmice and White-breasted Nuthatches - savor safflower. The best thing about this seed may be what it does't attract! Blackbirds, grackles and squirrels typically do not eat this seed.
Begin offering safflower gradually, mixing it with your current seed or seed blends. Over time you can remove your old seed and stictly offer safflower. The seed looks and tastes different from other bird seed, so it may take your birds some time to adjust.
Nyjer (thistle) Seed – Nyjer seed, commonly called thistle, comes from
Quail and larger finches will often feed on the ground beneath niger feeders, effectively cleaning up any spilled seed.
Premium Mixes - Birdseed mixes are an effective way of catering to the needs of many different types of birds. The mixes generally consist of black oil sunflower, peanut, millet, striped sunflower, and other seeds mixed together.
Lyric Supreme Bird Seed contains a premium mix of white millet, black oil, cracked corn, shelled peanuts, striped sunflower, safflower, sunflower kernels, tree nut pieces, small golden millet, Nyjer, and canary seed.
White Millet - Perfect for doves, juncos, native sparrows, towhees, quail and bobwhite, white millet is a favorite with ground-feeding birds. Millet can be scattered on the ground or placed in low-hanging tray feeders.
Millet is also included in many seed mixes due to its desirability. In fact, cardinals, goldfinches, purple finches and pine siskins will readily eat white millet if black oil sunflower is not available.
Corn – Cracked or whole kernel corn will attract eastern bluebirds, blue jays, pheasants, and other game birds. Corn is best served on the ground or on a platform feeder in an open area. Be aware, however, that squirrels and other animals will also be attracted to corn left on the ground.
Want to learn how to protect your feeders from squirrels? Read this article!
Peanuts – Shelled peanuts provide a high fat option to birds with high energy needs. Most varieties of woodpecker (particularly red-bellied, hairy, and downy woodpeckers), blue jays, titmice, sparrows, juncos, and nuthatches eat peanuts. During the winter months, peanuts are a great option to fuel birds’ energy.
Suet – Suet is not a bird seed but is a favorite among birds. Suet is made from beef fat in combination with seeds, nuts, and berries and is popular with many birds because of its high fat content. It is particularly prized by birds during the autumn season when they are gaining weight to migrate or to store fat for the winter. Among the birds that enjoy suet are black-capped chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and wrens.
For those hot summer days, try out the No Melt Suet cakes! These suet cakes are specially formulated to not melt, ensuring that it maintains its consistency.
Fruit – Droll Yankees Fruit Feeder (pictured to the right) is an excellent option to attract unique birds such as orioles. Grape jelly, sugar water, and fruit pieces such as orange slices, apples, and berries are all popular choices for birds with a high-sugar diet. Many birds will eat fruit occasionally, but the birds that enjoy it most are tanagers, orioles, robins, mockingbirds, and sapsuckers.
Just like humans, bird's food preferences will vary from region to region and from bird to bird. Experimenting with the variety of foods you put out is the best way to guarantee a diverse group of bird visitors. Lastly, do not forget to include a source of water for wild birds in both the summer and winter.
Which type of bird seed do your birds seem to enjoy the most?