Suggested Bird Seed Mixes/Types

Hi, I have always had trouble when picking out a type of seed for my bird feeders. Do you have any suggestions on what types to get?

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Now days, I stick to humming bird feeders as I love the little birds and I do not need to worry about attracting too many rodents and squirrels.

When I feed seed, I relied on the advice provided by a local bird seed store, Los Gatos Birdwatcher. Do you have such a bird seed store locally? If so, it’s great to support such small businesses, usually run by people with more than average interest in birds.

Los Gatos Birdwatcher has feeding advice on their website:
https://losgatosbirdwatcher.com/feeding-birds/wild-bird-seed/

Here is a basic chart:
http://websitedesignmarket.com/projects/losgatosbirdwatcher/wp-content/uploads/2021/09/LGBW_Feeder-Seed_Brochure.pdf

I have no financial interest in this store, I’m just passing along a resource that’s proved helpful to me over the years

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This year we are not feeding birds as the threat of deadly avian influenza is real and here in Michigan.

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Wild Birds Unlimited is the best bird seed on the market.

It depends on where you live. In general, other than extreme weather, benefits from feeders are considered small and do not reach all species. So, other things should be weighed in, like disease and invasive species. Habitat and having plants that provide food can often do a great deal more for attracting and benefiting native birds without the same risks.

Where I am is a lot of house sparrows and starlings. They are invasive here and their aggressive behavior can quickly erase the benefits of a feeder for native birds. Safflower seed is a favorite of mine in my dense suburban neighborhood. The invasive ones don’t usually like it, but chickadees, cardinals, and mourning doves love it here. Red-winged blackbirds, downy woodpeckers, even the occasional goldfinch eat it. Striped sunflowers are also liked by many but are very difficult for the invasive ones to open. Perch-less and upside-down feeders are also good for favoring many natives. These approaches do leave out a few native seed-eating feeder birds, like chipping sparrows, though.

In more rural and wooded locations, invasive birds do not usually have the same influence. Without the concern about them, many options open.

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This is specifically focused on winter birds, but I found it a useful tool on which types of birds tend to like which foods and which feeder types.

https://feederwatch.org/learn/common-feeder-birds/

Thanks, everyone for your input.

I have been researching this very thing recently. So pardon if I seem to undermine your knowledge about anything, I just want to be sure to cover everything!

I personally wish to grow some bird food on my property as I feel I feel that it caters to more of the birds needs. If you have any interest in this, I will provide information about those as well. It depends what birds you wish to attract.

Black oil sunflower seeds are the best all around seed to offer as many birds love it. Plus sunflowers are super easy to grow!

Safflower seeds are another good option. Cardinals and many other birds like this seed as well, and the nuisance birds, such as starlings, black birds, house sparrows, do not seem to like it. This is another plant you can grow where the flower head remind me of thistles, but orange.

Peanuts are great option for blue jays mainly, but other birds like them as well.

Nyger seeds are great for attracting mainly Gold finches, but other finches will eat it too. I offer this in a very small feeder for them, but you do not have buy this to enjoy these birds. They happily come visit multiheaded sunflowers, coneflowers and native thistle plants for seed. Be careful of bull thistle, an invasive in the states.

Millet is something that I would reserve to be grown. There are few types of millet, white and red proso seem to be the types common in birds seed, but birds seem to enjoy the white over the red. The birds will definitely prefer sunflowers and safflower over this; however, if you are interested, a bag of the parrot treat millet can be used to tie to a branch to provide a little enrichment for the wild birds. It also can be used to start a patch of millet grass to sustain providing this as a treat.

Cracked corn can be offered on a platform or the ground for mainly pigeons, doves and waterfowl, but keep in mind this can attract pests such as rodents, racoons, and invasive/unwanted bird species. Again, if you wish to grow a small patch to offer occasionally, flint corn is the type you would want.

Other seeds seem to not be worth it to buy for the feeders or buy some to start as self seeding prairie area for bird seed. I am currently researching natives for my area over cultivated and introduced grasses to start a small prairie area.

Suet is a great food to offer in colder months. I found something called bark butter and I make my own version the birds love and is super cheap! I mix natural peanut butter with corn meal to make a paste and apply it where birds can easily get to or in spots only woodpeckers can get at. This can also be formed into a cake or balls to offer in traditional suet feeders. It can be made with rendered beef/pork fat mixed in 50:50 of peanut butter: fat or used instead of peanut butter. I do not recommend using regular flour, oats, or other fillers seen in commercial suet as they are not very nutritious for the birds.

I offer nectar for hummingbirds, also orioles and even bees! I also offer grape jelly and oranges for orioles in the spring/summer months.

I can only provide info. for the Eastern USA, but for humming birds I grow natives, cardinal flowers, bee balms, and coral honey suckle. I have many other flowers, but these are the best attractors for the little guys. I also have a fuchsia (non-native) bush I plan on over wintering( zone 6) in my basement to get a larger bush to also provide for the humming birds.

Berry bushes are great for fruit loving birds which don’t seem to come to feeders, even if I provide berries for them. Examples are black berries, raspberries, wild grape, services berries, hawthorns, chokeberries, elderberries, blueberries, choke cherry trees, mulberry trees (orioles seem to really like these around here) and holly trees. Birds that seem to love berries are robins (they LOVE holly and Hawthorns), cat birds, orioles, black birds, jays and some wood peckers.

So to summarize, I would have black oil sunflower seed or safflower feeder, a peanut feeder, a humming bird feeder in summer and suet in winter. Optionally, a nyger seed feeder and oriole feeder are good, but planting sunflowers, thistles, grasses and berry bushes can provide more of a passive feed for these birds that provides other needs for the birds and can provide beautiful landscaping for your yard. Good Luck!

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Thank you @cyansnowflakes that was a wonderful explanation, and a lot of info. I did not realize that woodpeckers would eat berries.

Be sure to get the unsalted ones. Birds can be poisoned by salt.

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Unsalted peanuts are a favorite here. The more lightly roasted, the more the critters like them. I’ve read raw is okay, but has higher lectin content which may reduce nutrient absorption and it also has a risk of toxic fungus.

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Depends on where you live, but here in southern Canada, typical grain mixes won’t get you much more than Common Grackles, Red-Winged Blackbirds, and House Sparrows. Seeds mixes containing mainly sunflower seeds seem to get the fan favourites, like Blue Jays, and Northern Cardinals. Worms and bugs will attract you American Robins, or Eastern Bluebirds, and my favourite, just slicing up some colourful fruits seems to be best, as it attracts vibrant orioles and warblers. Basically, depends on where you live and what birds you want.

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