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Hen Seed 101: The ten Finest Varieties For Wild Birds


    Not all forms of fowl seed and meals are created equal.


    While you go to the shop and see all of the totally different baggage of meals, it’s straightforward to turn out to be a bit overwhelmed and surprise what are one of the best seeds and mixes to supply your yard birds.


    Whether or not you simply began feeding birds otherwise you’re pissed off on the quantity of meals wasted at your feeders, I feel this text will assist. By studying at this time, you possibly can anticipate to study the next issues:



    I get requested periodically about which mixtures of meals I exploit at my fowl feeding station.


    Sadly, I can’t give a constant reply! It is dependent upon the season, which birds I’ve been observing recently, and my very own experimentation. The most effective recommendation that I may give you is to maintain rotating totally different meals and fowl seed into your varied feeders after which sit again and take notes of what’s working greatest.


    Try my LIVE fowl feeder cam under to see my present arrange!


    The ten Finest Sorts of Birdseed and Meals


    #1. Sunflower


    If you happen to might solely provide one kind of meals at your feeders, you then would need to choose sunflower seed! Not solely do dozens of fowl species love consuming sunflower, nevertheless it’s additionally straightforward to seek out and comparatively cheap.


    Consider it or not, there are three types of sunflower seeds out there for feeding birds, and every kind has totally different benefits and makes use of.


    A. Black-oil Sunflower

    types of bird seed - black-oil sunflower

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    Oil sunflower is the most well-liked kind of seed within the shell and is devoured by nearly all birds. I discover it fascinating that this number of sunflower just isn’t the type that people devour. It was developed to reap for its oil content material, however then it was found how a lot birds love the stuff!


    Black-oil sunflower has the next oil content material and is cheaper when in comparison with striped sunflower under (B). Black-oil shells are additionally thinner and smaller, so they’re simpler to crack open and make much less of a multitude than striped sunflower.


    *Diet Info: 40% fats, 16% protein, 20% carbohydrates


    Birds which might be drawn to black-oil sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, grosbeaks, finches, nutcrackers, juncos, Home Sparrows, blackbirds, doves, & grackles. It could have been simpler to make an inventory of birds that DON’T like black-oil sunflower seeds as a result of there are usually not many.


    B. Striped Sunflower

    birdseed types - striped sunflower

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    Striped sunflower is bigger than black-oil and is identical kind of sunflower seed that people devour, which makes this seed dearer compared.


    Relating to your yard birds, striped sunflower just isn’t going to be as fashionable as black-oil sunflower. One purpose for that is striped sunflower has a thicker and stronger shell than black-oil, which makes it harder to crack open to get to the seed. Due to this truth, I like to make use of striped sunflower seeds in my yard when I’m making an attempt to discriminate towards sure birds.


    For instance, Home Sparrows could be extremely quite a few at fowl feeders, however they’re unable to open striped sunflower seeds! If you happen to dedicate a feeder to striped sunflower, then the cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, and different birds that may open the onerous shell have a extra peaceable place to eat. It’s additionally nice so as to add to a basic fowl seed combine.


    *Dietary Data: 26% fats, 15% protein, 18% carbohydrates


    Birds which might be drawn to striped sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, grackles, nutcrackers.


    C. Hulled Sunflower

    Hulled sunflower seed - best birdseed types

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    Hulled sunflower refers to sunflower seed that has already had the shell eliminated. Different widespread names embrace sunflower chips or kernels.


    Since they’re simpler to eat than seeds nonetheless of their shells, hulled sunflower is insanely fashionable at feeders! Critically, nearly each kind of fowl that isn’t a fowl of prey will eat it. My feeders that comprise hulled sunflower seeds need to be refilled nearly each single day.


    As a result of the shell has already been eliminated, hulled sunflower is dearer by weight than sunflower nonetheless within the husk. However you need to take into consideration that if you purchase black-oil or striped sunflower, the shells gained’t be eaten, so you might be paying for this waste.


    Hulled sunflower is also fashionable as a result of it doesn’t make a multitude. There aren’t any shells left to wash up!


    Birds that hulled sunflower attracts: Cardinals, jays, grosbreaks, some wrens, goldfinches, finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, juncos, sparrows, towhees, blackbirds, doves, and grackles, amongst others.


    #2. Safflower

    safflower - best bird food

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    Safflower seeds are a bit smaller than black-oil sunflower seeds and have a tricky shell for such a little bit seed. Many individuals name safflower a “miracle seed” as a result of a few of the most annoying pests at your feeders don’t notably take pleasure in it.


    For instance, squirrels and blackbirds are most likely the most important issues that most individuals encounter feeding birds. Would you consider me if I informed you that squirrels and blackbirds (together with grackles and starlings) RARELY eat safflower seed?


    The excellent news is that the majority different yard birds don’t have any difficulty consuming safflower, together with cardinals, chickadees, and finches. I do know it sounds too good to be true! Strive it and let me know your outcomes. Safflower will also be an awesome seed to make use of in your feeders that aren’t squirrel proof.


    *Diet content material: 38% fats, 16% protein, 34% carbohydrates


    Birds that safflower attracts: Cardinals, grosbeaks, finches (Home and Purple), titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and doves.

    #3. Nyjer (thistle)

    different types of bird seed guide

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    Goldfinches are certainly one of my favourite birds to look at and entice. I take pleasure in watching their curler coaster flights throughout the yard and the way in which they will cling to feeders in any orientation, even the wrong way up! Due to their tiny beaks, goldfinches can solely eat the smallest of seeds, which makes feeding nyjer to goldfinches an ideal match!


    Nyjer seed, additionally generally known as “thistle,” is a tiny, black seed that grows in Ethiopia or India. Nyjer seed just isn’t really associated to thistle, so that you don’t have to fret about it growing into an annoying weed. Earlier than it’s bought, nyjer seed is sterilized by warmth so it will possibly’t germinate and develop.


    Out of all of the forms of birdseed, nyjer is likely one of the most weak to spoiling. If the seed just isn’t contemporary, it’s widespread for birds to disregard it completely.


    To feed nyjer, you’ll need to buy a feeder that focuses on distributing this tiny seed. For extra data on nyjer feeders, try the article under.


    *Diet Data: 36% fats, 21% protein, 13% carbohydrates


    Birds that nyjer seed attracts: Goldfinches, Purple Finch, Home Finch, Pine Siskin, chickadees, and doves.


    #4. Peanuts


    Peanuts are an awesome meals to supply at your feeding station. Not solely do birds love consuming them, however they’re wholesome and supply a big quantity of fats and protein, each of that are vital to birds, particularly throughout chilly winter months. Be sure to purchase roasted, unsalted peanuts, if doable!


    *Diet Data: 49% fats, 26% protein, 19% carbohydrates


    You may provide peanuts two other ways, both within the shell or already out. The primary distinction is which birds you need to feed as a result of most birds can’t crack open a tough peanut shell!


    A. Peanuts within the shell:

    whole peanuts in shell for bird food

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    Just a few forms of birds can eat peanuts which might be nonetheless within the shell. This listing contains bigger birds comparable to crows, jays, grackles, magpies, and sure woodpeckers. Titmice and chickadees additionally take pleasure in peanuts and can work very onerous to get that shell cracked open!


    Once I use peanuts within the shell in my yard, I sometimes use certainly one of two feeders, both my tray feeder or peanut wreath.


    More often than not I throw a scoop of peanuts onto my tray feeder positioned on the bottom. Normally inside an hour after setting out peanuts, my native homicide of crows arrives making an attempt to suit as many peanuts as doable into their mouths to fly off some place else to feast.


    If I don’t need to feed crows and need to deal with Blue Jays, then I exploit my peanut wreath feeder and grasp it from my fowl pole.


    B. Shelled peanuts:

    peanut food for birds

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    As you possibly can see under, the listing of birds that can eat shelled peanuts is far, for much longer than these that may crack open and eat peanuts within the shell.


    Birds that shelled peanuts entice: Cardinals, jays, nutcrackers, nuthatches, grosbreaks, chickadees, titmice, bushtits, starlings, cowbirds, crows, magpies, ravens, and grackles.


    Shelled peanuts are utilized in numerous several types of feeders. Additionally they are generally diced up and added to basic fowl seed mixes or suet. I fill a steel mesh feeder with peanuts that solely woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, and different birds that may cling can entry.


    One phrase of warning; I’ve discovered that if shelled peanuts get moist or are usually not eaten inside a couple of days, they’re extra prone to rotting and molding. At this level, the meals must be thrown away and the feeder must be cleaned earlier than utilizing once more.


    #5. White Proso Millet

    white proso millet birdseed


    Millet is a favourite meals amongst ground-feeding birds. It’s typically not bought individually however is included in lots of forms of birdseed mixes.


    There are a couple of several types of millet, however one of the best one is white proso millet, which is a small spherical seed.


    Birds that white proso millet attracts: Juncos, sparrows, towhees, blackbirds, grackles, and doves.


    It’s greatest to supply blends that embrace white millet in tray or hopper feeders as a result of these feeders enable birds that don’t eat millet to kick it to the bottom. If you happen to put millet right into a tube feeder, it’s lots tougher for birds that don’t like millet to kick it out, and you’ll most likely find yourself with a bunch of millet on the backside of the tube feeder.


    *Diet Data: 4% fats, 11% protein, 73% carbohydrates


    A phrase of warning: Many birdseed mixes additionally comprise pink proso millet, which is pink and a bit smaller than white millet. Floor-feeding birds will eat pink millet, nevertheless it’s not their favourite. If doable, I’d attempt to keep away from shopping for a mixture that features pink millet.


    #6. Mealworms

    mealworms for bluebirds


    Due to their excessive fats and protein content material, providing mealworms at your feeding station is a wholesome deal with for a lot of yard birds.


    Mealworms could be bought in two other ways:



    Utilizing dwelling mealworms just isn’t as gross as it might sound. They aren’t slimy or saved within the grime. While you buy mealworms which might be alive, they sometimes are available a small, plastic container and are saved in your fridge, the place they go dormant and might survive for a couple of months!

    *Diet Data: 22% fats, 18% protein, 2.5% carbohydrates  View $ on Amazon



    Shopping for dried mealworms is much less trouble than retaining stay mealworms in your fridge! For instance, you should buy 5 kilos of them on Amazon for a comparatively low price.

    *Diet Data: 32% fats, 49% protein, 6.9% carbs  View $ on Amazon


    Birds favor consuming stay mealworms and should even reject dried mealworms at first. If this occurs, chances are you’ll want to mix each varieties to coach your birds. Personally, it’s rather more handy to maintain a giant pouch of dried mealworms in my shed than to have dwelling ones in my fridge!


    Birds which might be drawn to mealworms: Bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens, and starlings.


    Utilizing mealworms is a well-liked technique to entice bluebirds to your yard since these thrushes primarily eat bugs.


    #7. Corn


    Diet Info: 5% fats, 9% protein, 74% carbohydrates


    While you buy corn on the retailer, you will notice it supplied within the following two other ways:


    A. Complete Kernel Corn:

    best bird food types

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    Complete kernel corn is cheap to buy when in comparison with different forms of birdseed and meals. At my native house enchancment retailer, I should buy 50 kilos for round $10!


    However not that many birds can eat an entire kernel of corn. It’s going to be restricted to bigger birds, comparable to jays, crows, ravens, grackles, and geese.


    I additionally take pleasure in feeding the mammals that go to my feeding station, comparable to squirrels, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and rabbits. Complete corn is the meals that I generally use on my floor tray to draw these fascinating animals.


    Here’s a latest video of a skunk and raccoon consuming collectively below my feeders!

    *Watch My Dwell Animals Cam HERE*


    B. Cracked Corn:

    cracked corn - types of birdseed

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    Cracked corn is merely whole-kernel corn that has been chopped up. It’s used generally in birdseed mixes due to its cheap value. Many birds are unable to eat whole-kernel corn as a result of it’s too massive, however numerous birds like consuming cracked corn.


    I don’t frequently use cracked corn at my principal fowl feeding station as a result of I’ve discovered that cracked corn is extraordinarily fashionable amongst Home Sparrows! They completely can’t get sufficient of the stuff, and on the whole, I attempt to deter these invasive birds as a lot as doable from visiting. Once I do buy cracked corn, it’s often to fill a separate fowl feeder away from my major feeders to attract Home Sparrows away.


    Birds which might be drawn to cracked corn: Jays, juncos, sparrows, towhees, starlings, cowbirds, magpies, ravens, crows, doves, grackles, blackbirds, and quail.


    #8. Suet

    suet cakes


    Pure suet is the onerous fats across the kidneys and loins of beef and sheep. It supplies an impressive power supply for wild birds and supplies needed fat, that are particularly vital in winter.


    It’s doable to go to your butcher and ask for pure, uncooked suet. However as you possibly can think about, most of us don’t need to do this. Fortunately, producers of fowl meals have made it extraordinarily handy to feed suet in our backyards. Prepackaged suet blends are extraordinarily fashionable and are discovered at quite a lot of shops and on-line.


    Most suet blends out there don’t embrace simply suet, however some number of nuts, seeds, corn, grains, or fruit. The kind of suet mix you choose could rely upon what birds you are attempting to draw.


    All kinds of birds feed on suet, however the commonest birds attracted are woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. Sadly, European Starlings additionally love suet and can gorge themselves till it’s all gone!


    You should purchase fowl suet in 4 widespread types:

    suet cake

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    • Truffles: The preferred selection. The dimensions of 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ matches commonplace suet feeders. I largely use the above product because it has a excessive protein content material, which attracts extra woodpeckers.


    • Balls: Roughly the scale of golf balls that slot in many forms of mesh feeders.


    • Nuggets: Usually barely smaller than marbles. Nuggets additionally could be put in mesh feeders or on tray feeders.


    • Plugs: Resemble a small log. These match into suet feeders which might be specifically made to suit suet plugs. Suet plug feeders are sometimes vertical and resemble the facet of a tree.


    #9. Sugar Water (Nectar)

    hummingbird and oriole nectar


    Setting out a home made answer of sugar water mimics nectar that birds discover in flowers. Fortunately, making a nectar answer is straightforward; simply combine 4 components water with 1 half desk sugar.


    And why must you dedicate a spot in your yard for a nectar feeder? The reply is straightforward; to draw two of the brightest and most colourful birds round!


    Hummingbirds and orioles!


    Each of those birds generally go to nectar feeders to feed upon sugar options. Nectar enhances their pure weight-reduction plan properly and supplies them with power for his or her lively existence.


    And in my view, few birds are as thrilling to see in your yard as a tiny hummingbird zooming round or watching a vibrant orange oriole fly down from the timber.


    *Diet Data: 0% fats, 0% protein, 20% carbohydrates

    • Hummingbirds and orioles get further vitamin from different meals sources, comparable to flies, gnats, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and fruit. Nectar is solely an power supply, so please don’t fear in regards to the lack of vitamins in nectar.


    #10. Fruit

    types of fruit for birds


    Providing fruit at your feeders supplies a wholesome snack for a lot of birds and is an effective way to draw species that don’t frequently go to your yard.


    You should use contemporary fruit, dried fruit, or jelly.


    Contemporary Fruit:

    You may attempt something laying round your own home — bananas, grapes, apples, berries, and so forth. Oranges work nice at attracting orioles! My suggestion is to slice the fruit up in small chunks and set out on a tray feeder in small portions. Throughout summer season, fruit can spoil shortly and attracts yellowjackets and bees! It’s greatest to make use of when it’s cooler exterior.


    Dried Fruit:

    Utilizing dried fruit is less complicated to supply as a result of it’s extra handy to retailer. Raisins, cranberries, and currants are fashionable choices. Robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds ought to discover your dried fruit engaging!



    If you wish to entice orioles, then placing out jelly ought to assist. I’d use a small snack feeder and solely use a little bit bit at a time till you realize the jelly is being eaten.


    The jelly at your grocery retailer works superb. However do you know there’s a jelly made particularly for birds? It’s known as BirdBerry Jelly and comprises actual sugar and fruit juice as a substitute of high-fructose corn syrup.


    The forms of birdseed it is best to keep away from!


    Sadly, at nearly each massive house enchancment retailer, pet retailer, ironmongery shop, or different locations that promote birdseed, you’ll run into a standard drawback.


    Low cost fowl seed mixes comprise fillers that wild birds gained’t eat!


    Sure, it’s a tragic indisputable fact that a lot meals is wasted, however the way in which for producers to get the worth down of a wild fowl seed combine is to incorporate numerous low-cost components with out regard as to if the seed really attracts birds.


    Listed below are the commonest seeds added to mixes that it is best to keep away from!


    Perhaps if everybody stopped shopping for fowl meals that contained these poor components, then they’d disappear from the cabinets, and we’d be left with solely high quality merchandise.



    worst birdseed for mixes

    Milo, additionally known as sorghum, might be the commonest filler ingredient you will see in birdseed mixes. It’s low-cost and does an awesome job of filling up the bag.


    The issue is that the majority birds by no means or not often eat milo! Wild birds will simply kick it off the feeder to the bottom, the place it’s going to sit till it rots and decomposes. Just a few ground-feeding birds, like turkeys, quail, pheasants, and doves eat milo together with pest birds like European Starlings and Home Sparrows.


    Don’t get white millet and milo confused, which I used to do generally. They’re completely totally different seeds. White millet is sweet, milo is dangerous!



    Just a few birds, like starlings and grackles, will eat the oats in a birdseed combine.


    Canary seed:

    Doesn’t the identify let you know every little thing it’s essential know? Canary seed just isn’t an awesome meals to make use of at your feeders; it’s greatest for pet birds! Just a few forms of ground-feeding birds will devour it, together with Home Sparrows.


    Different fillers chances are you’ll run throughout and ought to be averted:

    Rice, flax, golden millet, pink millet, buckwheat, wheat, and rapeseed.


    Conclusion and Closing Ideas


    Selecting the forms of birdseed on your fowl feeding station is a crucial determination.


    You must stability which forms of birds you need to entice with how a lot cash you need to spend. There aren’t any excellent solutions or one greatest mixture of fowl meals to make use of. It comes all the way down to your private preferences.


    I hope studying by the TEN several types of fowl meals helped to know the advantages every one can present in your yard. Serving to to satisfy the dietary wants of birds just isn’t solely helpful to birds but in addition very rewarding for us to look at them go to all yr lengthy!


    What are the three forms of birdseed that entice probably the most birds to your yard?




    *Diet data from every meals supply was obtained from the e book “The Pleasure of Hen Feeding,” which is written by Jim Carpenter. I extremely advocate the e book as a useful resource for anybody who enjoys watching birds of their yard.*