Updated: Mar 27
In order to attract the kind of birds you want at your bird feeder, you will need to know what kind of wild bird seed each species prefers. For example, black oil sunflower seeds will attract a variety of songbirds including chickadees, finches, cardinals and grosbeaks, siskins and buntings but won't necessarily attract orioles, tanagers and doves. Orioles and tanagers like suet and fruit, even nectar while doves and other ground feeding birds prefer corn, millet and milo. Woodpeckers, on the other hand, prefer suet.
You must purchase high-quality bird seed in addition to the appropriate variety. The best place to get your seed is from a reputable seller. Mixed bird seed bags found in "Big Box" stores frequently have been stored for a significant amount of time in a warehouse and are far from being fresh. Additionally, these bird seed mixes contain a lot of filler seeds with low nutritional value, such as milo and wheat, which are not particularly appealing to birds. When you provide such blends, you will frequently observe that the birds will kick away all of the filler seed to reach any remaining higher-quality seeds. Worse still, the milo may attract undesirable species like cowbirds, grackles, and starlings, as well as undesirable squirrels and even rats.
Even though these mixed bird seed bags are less expensive, you'll end up spending about the same, if not more, on them than you would on mixes of better quality. It's possible that half or even more of it ends up on your deck, porch, or yard, where it gets messy and is thrown away. Even fighting the weed seed that begins to sprout in your lawn is sometimes necessary. Therefore, you should try to buy your bird seed from a local bird shop or, for a more convenient option, from an online bird seed store.
Many people buy sunflower seeds, but they don't know that not all seeds are the same. There are striped and dark oil sunflower seeds. Select a dark oil. Despite having twice as many calories per pound as striped sunflower seeds, dark oil sunflower seeds do cost slightly more. Also, because of their smaller size and thinner shells, they are easier for a wider range of birds to open than striped seeds, which only birds with big bills can eat because their shells are thicker and harder. If you care about your birds, they will receive black oil. I'll stop here.
If you don't want to just feed sunflower seeds to wild birds, you can now make your own mix.
Try combining hulled millet, white millet, cracked corn, red millet, peanut pieces, and hulled millet to attract a variety of species, including doves, goldfinches, white-throated sparrows, house finches, indigo buntings, juncos, purple finches, quail, towhees, and white-crowned sparrows. If you don't want to make your own, try to find a mix with the label "No Waste." There is almost no waste and less mess because there are no hulls piled up below the feeder in these mixes, which are typically completely shelled and do not contain any filler seeds.