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Sunday, March 26, 2023

Hen Seed 101: The ten Finest Varieties For Wild Birds

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


Once you go to the shop and see all of the totally different baggage of meals, it’s simple to turn into a bit overwhelmed and surprise 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 believe this text will assist. By studying in the present day, you’ll be able to anticipate to study the next issues:



I get requested periodically about which mixtures of meals I take advantage of at my chicken 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. The perfect recommendation that I can provide you is to maintain rotating totally different meals and chicken seed into your varied feeders after which sit again and take notes of what’s working greatest.


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


The ten Finest Kinds of Birdseed and Meals


#1. Sunflower


When you might solely provide one sort of meals at your feeders, then you definately would need to decide sunflower seed! Not solely do dozens of chicken species love consuming sunflower, but it surely’s additionally simple to seek out and comparatively cheap.


Consider it or not, there are three sorts of sunflower seeds out there for feeding birds, and every sort 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 sort 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 sort that people eat. 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 a better oil content material and is inexpensive 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 are drawn to black-oil sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, grosbeaks, finches, nutcrackers, juncos, Home Sparrows, blackbirds, doves, & grackles. It will have been simpler to make a listing of birds that DON’T like black-oil sunflower seeds as a result of there usually are not many.


B. Striped Sunflower

birdseed types - striped sunflower

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Striped sunflower is bigger than black-oil and is identical sort of sunflower seed that people eat, which makes this seed costlier as compared.


In the case of your yard birds, striped sunflower just isn’t going to be as in style 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 in opposition to sure birds.


For instance, Home Sparrows may be extremely quite a few at chicken 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 exhausting shell have a extra peaceable place to eat. It’s additionally nice so as to add to a basic chicken seed combine.


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


Birds which are 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 frequent names embody sunflower chips or kernels.


Since they’re simpler to eat than seeds nonetheless of their shells, hulled sunflower is insanely in style at feeders! Critically, nearly each sort of chicken that isn’t a chicken 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 important to consider that if you purchase black-oil or striped sunflower, the shells gained’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 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 somewhat seed. Many individuals name safflower a “miracle seed” as a result of a few of the most annoying pests at your feeders don’t significantly take pleasure in it.


For instance, squirrels and blackbirds are in all probability the most important issues that most individuals encounter feeding birds. Would you imagine me if I instructed 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 concern 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 may also be an incredible 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 in every 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 other 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 truly 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 could’t germinate and develop.


Out of all of the varieties of birdseed, nyjer is without doubt one of the most susceptible to spoiling. If the seed just isn’t contemporary, it’s frequent for birds to disregard it fully.


To feed nyjer, you’re going to need to buy a feeder that focuses on distributing this tiny seed. For extra data on nyjer feeders, take a look at 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 incredible meals to offer 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 potential!


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


You may provide peanuts two alternative ways, both within the shell or already out. The principle 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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Only some varieties of birds can eat peanuts which are nonetheless within the shell. This checklist contains bigger birds corresponding to crows, jays, grackles, magpies, and sure woodpeckers. Titmice and chickadees additionally take pleasure in peanuts and can work very exhausting to get that shell cracked open!


After I use peanuts within the shell in my yard, I sometimes use one in every 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. Often inside an hour after setting out peanuts, my native homicide of crows arrives making an attempt to suit as many peanuts as potential into their mouths to fly off someplace 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 hold it from my chicken pole.


B. Shelled peanuts:

peanut food for birds

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As you’ll be able to see under, the checklist of birds that may 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 plenty of various kinds of feeders. In addition they are generally diced up and added to basic chicken 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 usually are not eaten inside a number 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 varieties of birdseed mixes.


There are a number of various kinds 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 greatest to supply blends that embody white millet in tray or hopper feeders as a result of these feeders permit birds that don’t eat millet to kick it to the bottom. When you put millet right into a tube feeder, it’s so much more durable for birds that don’t like millet to kick it out, and you’ll in all probability 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 include purple proso millet, which is purple and a bit smaller than white millet. Floor-feeding birds will eat purple millet, but it surely’s not their favourite. If potential, I might 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 dwelling mealworms just isn’t as gross as it might sound. They aren’t slimy or saved within the filth. Once you buy mealworms which are 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 number of months!

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



Shopping for dried mealworms is much less trouble than protecting reside 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 want consuming reside mealworms and will even reject dried mealworms at first. If this occurs, you might 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 are drawn to mealworms: Bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens, and starlings.


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


#7. Corn


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


Once you buy corn on the retailer, you will notice it provided 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 house enchancment retailer, I should buy 50 kilos for round $10!


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


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


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

*Watch My Reside 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 plenty of birds like consuming cracked corn.


I don’t repeatedly use cracked corn at my predominant chicken 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 on the whole, I attempt to deter these invasive birds as a lot as potential from visiting. After I do buy cracked corn, it’s normally to fill a separate chicken feeder away from my main feeders to attract Home Sparrows away.


Birds which are 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 exhausting fats across the kidneys and loins of beef and sheep. It offers an excellent power supply for wild birds and offers vital fat, that are particularly vital in winter.


It’s potential to go to your butcher and ask for pure, uncooked suet. However as you’ll be able to think about, most of us don’t need to try this. Fortunately, producers of chicken 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 embody simply suet, however some number of nuts, seeds, corn, grains, or fruit. The kind of suet mix you choose could rely on 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 purchase chicken suet in 4 frequent kinds:

suet cake

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  • Truffles: The preferred selection. The dimensions of 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ matches normal suet feeders. I principally 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: Usually 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 are specifically made to suit suet plugs. Suet plug feeders are sometimes vertical and resemble the aspect of a tree.


#9. Sugar Water (Nectar)

hummingbird and oriole nectar


Setting out a do-it-yourself 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 loss plan properly and offers them with power for his or her energetic existence.


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


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

  • Hummingbirds and orioles get further diet from different meals sources, corresponding to flies, gnats, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and fruit. Nectar is just 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 offers a wholesome snack for a lot of birds and is an effective way to draw species that don’t repeatedly go to your yard.


You need to use contemporary 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 advice 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 greatest 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 engaging!



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


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


The varieties of birdseed it’s best to keep away from!


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


Low-cost chicken seed mixes include fillers that wild birds gained’t eat!


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


Listed here are the most typical seeds added to mixes that it’s best to keep away from!


Perhaps if everybody stopped shopping for chicken 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 known as sorghum, might be the most typical filler ingredient you can see in birdseed mixes. It’s low-cost and does an incredible job of filling up the bag.


The issue is that almost all birds by no means or not often eat milo! Wild birds will simply kick it off the feeder to the bottom, the place it can sit till it rots and decomposes. Only some 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 fully totally different seeds. White millet is sweet, milo is dangerous!



Only some birds, like starlings and grackles, will eat the oats in a birdseed combine.


Canary seed:

Doesn’t the identify let you know all the pieces it’s worthwhile to know? Canary seed just isn’t an incredible meals to make use of at your feeders; it’s greatest for pet birds! Only some varieties of ground-feeding birds will eat it, together with Home Sparrows.


Different fillers you might run throughout and ought to be averted:

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


Conclusion and Ultimate Ideas


Selecting the varieties of birdseed to your chicken feeding station is a vital determination.


It’s a must to steadiness 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 greatest mixture of chicken meals to make use of. It comes right down to your private preferences.


I hope studying by the TEN various kinds of chicken meals helped to grasp the advantages each can present in your yard. Serving to to fulfill 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 varieties of birdseed that entice essentially 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.*

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