What is the Best Bird Food?

What bird food do you find best for attracting a great diversity of birds to your yard? It could be anything like bird food, fruits, vegetables, or something else. Let me know what birds your food attracts too. Lately, sparrows have been the only birds I get, and I would like to know if there is something I am doing wrong, which prevents me from getting a large diversity of birds. Thank you in advance for your bird food advice!

1 Like

I live in western Washington State (US) and haven’t been able to attract very many birds to my feeder. I used to use mixed seed, but they usually picked out the sunflower seeds, so I switched to plain black oil sunflower seeds. The same birds come to my feeder though; Chestnut-backed and Black-capped Chickadees, and Red-breasted Nuthatches. Once I had a Spotted Towhee come to the feeder, which was surprising since they’re ground birds, and when I put up a suet feeder the nuthatches and Steller’s Jays liked it.

2 Likes

If you live in Sri Lanka, where the only abundant seed-eater is the rather building-exclusive House Sparrow, along with the Munias and the Cinereous tit, better to put mealworms, fruit, or nectar for our Sunbirds that are not diverse in species but abundant in numbers.

2 Likes

Thank you so much for the advice! I will definitely have to try the black oil sunflower seeds to try and attract some chickadees and nuthatches.

1 Like

Although I don’t live in Sri Lanka, there are many similar birds to the species you named where i’m from. Perhaps mealworms and fruit would attract a larger variety of birds here. Thank you for the help!

1 Like

Obviously where you are will factor in what you offer, but here’s what I would recommend. This would work well for eastern USA/CA.

The Good, the more the better for this lot.
Black oil sunflower
Safflower
Peanuts
Sunflower chips

The Bad, a little goes a long way here.
Striped sunflower
White millet (more in winter)
Cracked corn (drop it in spring/summer)

The ugly, everything else.
Almost everything else that goes in blends is a waste.

This doesn’t include specialty servings like suet, dried/fresh fruit, mealworms, nectar, ect. All these can be added to the blend as well, just make sure they don’t clog your feeder, in these cases getting some specialty feeders might be a better option.

3 Likes

Thank you for the ideas. I will need to give the white millet and cracked corn a try! Especially in the winter and spring. I appreciate the help.

1 Like

Yes, but unhusked seeds may attract robins such as magpie-robin, blue robin, bluethroat and european robin (not the american one which is a thrush). Maybe nuthatches here also enjoy seeds.

1 Like

I also live in Western WA, honestly patience is an important factor in feeding backyard birds/critters I have found. After putting up feeders for over a year, I started getting many new visitors that I did not see very often the year prior, now they come here almost daily to the bird feeders, Townsends chipmunk, Mourning doves, Red Breasted Nuthatch, Douglas Squirrel etc.

Black oil sunflower is almost always a hit, the second most popular I have found being the white millet, cracked corn is sometimes popular with the Sparrows, Juncos and Towhees and the red millet is just a filler seed that nobody particularly enjoys.

Suet is extremely popular, especially in the winter, I make it homemade as it is cheaper in large batches. (secret ingredient dried mealworms!)

Seasonally I have also given pumpkin seeds and squash seeds, these are about as popular as the cracked corn, unfortunately I cant give peanuts to the backyard birds as I am allergic to them and therefore do not buy them, but I have heard they can be popular with woodpeckers and jays.

Another major thing is native plants, planting native plants in your yard can bring not only feeding opportunities for wildlife, but also nesting and breeding aswell.

4 Likes

Mealworms attract most birds such as robins, warblers such as Prinias and Tailorbirds (common as dirt), maybe woodpeckers and nuthatches (The feeder birds of Sri Lanka is a practically nonexistent thing, nobody has studied this), tits, Babblers and Mynas (again, common as dirt, both of these are), maybe Pipits and Larks if it’s on the ground.

Nectar may also attract some fruit eating birds such as bulbuls, Babblers, Flowerpeckers and ioras.

Fruit is good for woodpeckers, Bulbuls, Flowerpeckers, Ioras, Orioles, barbets, hornbills, maybe woodpeckers as well.

And almost anything attracts crows. Yes, huge irritants. Omnipresent.

1 Like

I’m in the eastern US and find that a mix of black oil sunflower and freeze-dried mealworms is great for a lot of birds. I throw in some hot pepper flakes to discourage squirrels but that only works to some extent. I have experimented with making my own bird food cakes for suet feeders and logs feeders in the winter. I was able to attract a few woodpeckers to the log feeder that I would otherwise never have see at a feeder, but once the starlings discover them they take over and clean them out instantly.

1 Like

The squirrels will probably start to sample the neighbor’s feeders and go “Blech, too bland, nobody’s seasoned it!”

4 Likes

I live in Alabama, and I really like the Walmart brand (Premium I think it’s called?) Nut & Berry blend. I just scatter it on the ground and I get all kinds of birds depending on the season! Resident birds like cardinals and doves, woodpeckers, seasonal birds like sparrows and warblers- even ones that don’t eat the seed feel safer in areas where there are lots of birds nearby, like phoebes and other insectivores. In my opinion, the key is consistency- if you have regulars, you’ll draw in more unusual birds that come to investigate what your regular ones are eating.

Echoing what everyone else is saying, sunflower, safflower, and peanuts are year-round favorites (especially peanuts!!). The best seed blend for you will depend on what exactly is in your area, season, feeding method, and a bunch of other factors. Experiment with it! Some junk seeds can be good for specific circumstances- millet and milo are good for ground-feeding doves, grouse and ducks like corn year-round, the dried fruits/weird nuts can go to mammals, and so on.

Native plants are also a great option if possible!! I’ve had great success with purple coneflower in the past.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jH0425VzERs
this must be helpful

1 Like

If you ask me, I don’t keep bird feeder at all, just water, still birds come to my house to eat insects and I also grow 2-3 plants of millets and wheat and birds eat and love it a lot. Well it is just my opinion, don’t let it hinder your hobby/passion
best wishes

2 Likes

One issue that I would point out there, many of us live in urban/suburban habitat where most of the features around are: pavement, buildings, mowed/sprayed lawns, pruned/sprayed trees/shrubs.

In my yard I don’t spray, I only mow every couple of weeks, and I have as many native plants as I can, but that’s just a drop in the bucket. Adding bird feeders makes it a bigger drop in the bucket. Having supplementary food can assist a marginal habitat making so more birds can nest in that area.

1 Like

For millet and corn, just add that in the fall/winter, in the spring/summer they draw a lot of starlings and House Sparrows and aren’t that interesting to the birds that you want to see.

On the other hand, if you are in Europe where House Sparrows are declining, then millet and corn might be a good option.

2 Likes

Thank you so much for the ideas and tips everyone! I will begin experimenting with some of these recommendations in the coming weeks!

I don’t use bird feeder is that because only feral pigeon come here, and I am obessed with them

Birds’ preferences seem to change. A decade ago in UK, if you wanted goldfinches you put out niger/nyja seed, small black seeds possibly of a type of thistle judging by what grew under the feeder. Now goldfinches here aren’t interested in it. They only want sunflower kernals.

I agree with the person who said put out water. That is an easy attractant, but keep it clean. So many small birds have a drink then defaecate in the water.

In fact cleanliness around the feeders is important too. We have an epidemic of, I think, a protozoan caused by dirty feeders and build up of muck under the feeders. It affects several species, especially greenfinches. The symptoms are they sit around with their feathers fluffed up, not feeding. It is usually fatal.

1 Like