Hen Seed 101: The ten Greatest Sorts For Wild Birds

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


Whenever 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 marvel what are the most effective seeds and mixes to supply your yard birds.


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



I get requested periodically about which combos of meals I take advantage of at my fowl feeding station.


Sadly, I can’t give a constant reply! It depends upon the season, which birds I’ve been observing recently, and my very own experimentation. One of the best recommendation that I can provide you is to maintain rotating totally different meals and fowl seed into your numerous feeders after which sit again and take notes of what’s working finest.


Take a look at my LIVE fowl feeder cam under to see my present arrange!


The ten Greatest Sorts of Birdseed and Meals


#1. Sunflower


When you may solely supply one kind of meals at your feeders, then you definately would need to choose sunflower seed! Not solely do dozens of fowl species love consuming sunflower, nevertheless it’s additionally straightforward to search out and comparatively cheap.


Imagine it or not, there are three styles 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 attention-grabbing that this number of sunflower will not be the sort 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 interested in black-oil sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, grosbeaks, finches, nutcrackers, juncos, Home Sparrows, blackbirds, doves, & grackles. It might have been simpler to make an inventory of birds that DON’T like black-oil sunflower seeds as a result of there aren’t 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 costlier as compared.


Relating to your yard birds, striped sunflower will not be going to be as in style as black-oil sunflower. One motive 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 reality, I like to make use of striped sunflower seeds in my yard when I’m making an attempt to discriminate in opposition to sure birds.


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


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


Birds which might be interested in 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 in style at feeders! Severely, nearly each kind of fowl that isn’t a fowl of prey will eat it. My feeders that include hulled sunflower seeds should be refilled nearly each single day.


As a result of the shell has already been eliminated, hulled sunflower is costlier by weight than sunflower nonetheless within the husk. However it’s a must to take into consideration that whenever you purchase black-oil or striped sunflower, the shells received’t be eaten, so you’re paying for this waste.


Hulled sunflower is also in style as a result of it doesn’t make a multitude. There are not any shells left to scrub 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 troublesome shell for such a bit of seed. Many individuals name safflower a “miracle seed” as a result of a number of the most annoying pests at your feeders don’t significantly 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 almost all 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! Attempt it and let me know your outcomes. Safflower can be a fantastic 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 one among my favourite birds to watch and entice. I take pleasure in watching their curler coaster flights throughout the yard and the best way they’ll 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 referred to as “thistle,” is a tiny, black seed that grows in Ethiopia or India. Nyjer seed will not be really associated to thistle, so that you don’t have to fret about it growing into an annoying weed. Earlier than it’s offered, nyjer seed is sterilized by warmth so it may’t germinate and develop.


Out of all of the varieties of birdseed, nyjer is without doubt one of the most weak to spoiling. If the seed will not be recent, it’s widespread for birds to disregard it solely.


To feed nyjer, you’re going to need to buy a feeder that focuses on distributing this tiny seed. For extra info on nyjer feeders, take a look at the article under.


*Diet Information: 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 a fantastic meals to supply at your feeding station. Not solely do birds love consuming them, however they’re wholesome and supply a major quantity of fats and protein, each of that are vital to birds, particularly throughout chilly winter months. Make certain to purchase roasted, unsalted peanuts, if doable!


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


You may supply peanuts two alternative 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 varieties 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 arduous to get that shell cracked open!


After I use peanuts within the shell in my yard, I sometimes use one among 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. Often 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 concentrate on Blue Jays, then I take advantage of my peanut wreath feeder and cling 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 a number of several types of feeders. In addition they are generally diced up and added to common fowl seed mixes or suet. I fill a metallic 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 aren’t eaten inside a couple of days, they’re extra inclined 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 usually not offered individually however is included in lots of varieties of birdseed mixes.


There are a couple of several types of millet, however the most effective 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 finest 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. When you put millet right into a tube feeder, it’s rather a lot 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 Information: 4% fats, 11% protein, 73% carbohydrates


A phrase of warning: Many birdseed mixes additionally include purple proso millet, which is purple and a bit smaller than white millet. Floor-feeding birds will eat purple millet, nevertheless it’s not their favourite. If doable, I’d attempt to keep away from shopping for a combination that features purple 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 may be bought in two alternative ways:



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

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



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

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


Birds desire consuming reside mealworms and will 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 far more handy to maintain an enormous pouch of dried mealworms in my shed than to have residing ones in my fridge!


Birds which might be interested in mealworms: Bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens, and starlings.


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


#7. Corn


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


Whenever you buy corn on the retailer, you will note it supplied within the following two alternative ways:


A. Entire Kernel Corn:

best bird food types

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Entire kernel corn is cheap to buy when in comparison with different varieties of birdseed and meals. At my native dwelling enchancment retailer, I should purchase 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. Entire corn is the meals that I generally use on my floor tray to draw these attention-grabbing animals.


Here’s a current video of a skunk and raccoon consuming collectively beneath my feeders!

*Watch My Stay 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 a number of birds like consuming cracked corn.


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


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


#8. Suet

suet cakes


Pure suet is the arduous fats across the kidneys and loins of beef and sheep. It supplies an impressive power supply for wild birds and supplies vital 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 in style and are discovered at a wide range 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 depend upon what birds you are attempting to draw.


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


You should buy fowl suet in 4 widespread types:

suet cake

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  • Truffles: The most well-liked selection. The dimensions of 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ suits normal suet feeders. I largely use the above product because it has a excessive protein content material, which attracts extra woodpeckers.


  • Balls: Roughly the dimensions of golf balls that slot in many varieties of mesh feeders.


  • Nuggets: Sometimes barely smaller than marbles. Nuggets additionally may 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 resolution of sugar water mimics nectar that birds discover in flowers. Fortunately, making a nectar resolution is simple; simply combine 4 elements water with 1 half desk sugar.


And why must you dedicate a spot in your yard for a nectar feeder? The reply is simple; 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 loss program properly and supplies them with power for his or her lively life.


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


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

  • Hummingbirds and orioles get further diet from different meals sources, comparable to flies, gnats, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and fruit. Nectar is solely an power supply, so please don’t fear concerning 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 a good way to draw species that don’t frequently go to your yard.


You need to use recent fruit, dried fruit, or jelly.


Contemporary Fruit:

You may attempt something laying round your own home — bananas, grapes, apples, berries, and many others. 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 time, fruit can spoil shortly and attracts yellowjackets and bees! It’s finest to make use of when it’s cooler outdoors.


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 in style choices. Robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds ought to discover your dried fruit enticing!



If you wish to entice orioles, then placing out jelly ought to assist. I’d use a small snack feeder and solely use a bit of 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 referred to as BirdBerry Jelly and comprises actual sugar and fruit juice as an alternative of high-fructose corn syrup.


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


Sadly, at nearly each giant dwelling enchancment retailer, pet retailer, ironmongery store, or different locations that promote birdseed, you’re going to run into a standard downside.


Low-cost fowl seed mixes include fillers that wild birds received’t eat!


Sure, it’s a tragic proven fact that a lot meals is wasted, however the best way for producers to get the value down of a wild fowl seed combine is to incorporate a number of low-cost elements with out regard as to if the seed really attracts birds.


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


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



worst birdseed for mixes

Milo, additionally referred to as sorghum, might be the most typical filler ingredient you will discover in birdseed mixes. It’s low-cost and does a fantastic job of filling up the bag.


The issue is that almost all birds by no means or hardly ever eat milo! Wild birds will simply kick it off the feeder to the bottom, the place it can 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 solely totally different seeds. White millet is nice, milo is unhealthy!



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


Canary seed:

Doesn’t the title let you know all the things it’s good to know? Canary seed will not be a fantastic meals to make use of at your feeders; it’s finest for pet birds! Just a few varieties of ground-feeding birds will devour it, together with Home Sparrows.


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

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


Conclusion and Closing Ideas


Selecting the varieties of birdseed in your fowl feeding station is a crucial choice.


You need to stability which varieties of birds you need to entice with how a lot cash you need to spend. There are not any good solutions or one finest mixture of fowl meals to make use of. It comes right down to your private preferences.


I hope studying by way of the TEN several types of fowl meals helped to grasp the advantages each can present in your yard. Serving to to fulfill the dietary wants of birds will not be solely helpful to birds but additionally very rewarding for us to observe them go to all 12 months lengthy!


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




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

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