Understanding Wild Bird Seed

November 9, 2016


Are you trying to figure out what type of seed your backyard birds prefer? This is an important question if you enjoy watching the birds.  Knowing what they like to eat is the first step to keeping them at your feeders.  When trying to attract new birds, it is essential to offer them the food or seed they prefer.  We hope this article will help you determine what variety of seed you will offer in your backyard.


There are many common seeds that a large variety of birds enjoy, while some other types will attract only a limited number of species.  Learning the species that are common to your yard and area is the first step to selecting your seed, and we will cover in another post.


Please use the guide below to determine the best fit of bird seed in your back yard.


Black Oil Sunflower Seed: Black Oil Sunflower is the most popular choice for a variety of birds.  These seeds are high in fat and protein which give your birds the energy they require for matting, migrating or toughing out the winter. These seeds are smaller than a stripped sunflower and have a shell that is thinner and easier for birds to access the seed.


You can offer this type of seed a variety of ways to your birds.  Use a tube feeder or platform feeder for this seed is your best bet.  One thing to keep in mind is that there will be a lot of waste below your feeder for the shells that are dropped.


Striped Sunflower: Stripped sunflower is high in fat and protein but harder to get to the seed. This seed will attract your larger variety of birds such as blue jays, cardinals, wood peckers as well as squirrels and raccoons. 


These seeds are best offered on a platform feeder as they are larger and sometimes jam when using a tube feeder. Also with these there will be a large amount of shell waste below your feeder.


Sunflower Hearts:  These are just the seed of the sunflowers listed above and loved buy most birds.  High in protein and fat but more expensive due to the additional steps of processing. 

You can offer these in most tube feeders.  Squirrels will be attracted to these also so if you don’t like them then make sure to use a squirrel proof feeder.  There will be minimal waste to these as there isn’t a shell left from the seed.


Safflower: This seed is a favorite of cardinals, finches and doves.  It is more expensive than the sunflower, but again you have limited waste left behind.  You can use tube or platform feeders for this type of seed.


Nyjer-Thistle Seed: This seed is the most expensive bird seed on the market, but is a favorite for the gold and purple finch.  This seed is tiny and requires a specific thistle feeder.  Most bird lovers offer this in the back yard along with other types of seed due to the higher cost.

Suet: Suet comes in many different varieties and sizes.  Depending on the ingredients of the suet you can almost attract any bird. Suet cakes consist of seeds pressed into beef fat and typically requires a suet feeder. You can offer just suet or suet cakes to attract more birds to your yard.


Premium Bird Seed Mixes:  This are pre-packaged mixes of the most popular seeds that birds love.  Premium mixes typically consist of black oil, millet, sunflower hearts, safflower, peanuts and coated in a light oil.  This will attract the largest variety of birds and leave the least amount of waste under you feeders as it consists of the most desirable types of seed.

Budget Bird Seed: These mixes typically consist of cracked corn, red and white milo, wheat and oats.  This will attract a large variety, but usually draw in less desirable birds that aren’t as colorful as you might like.  The ingredients of these mixes are typically left offers from other animal feed and not a primary food source for your birds.


Cracked Corn: Cracked corn is the lowest priced of any of the seeds listed above.  These will attract jays, cardinals, and larger varieties of birds.  This will also bring in other rodents to your back yard or your storage bins so take precaution.


Peanuts: These are a favorite of Blue Jay and Squirrels. There are a variety of peanut feeders and can be offered in the shell or out of the shell. If you like to watch squirrels, then these are a must have in your backyard.


Knowing who likes what will help you build your bird sanctuary for your enjoyment.  Please stop buy or contact us if you have any questions about what you should offer to your birds.


Not able to make it to our store? You can find great bird seed online here!


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