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Choosing The Proper Bird Food

There is a huge variety of bird seed and much of it almost any bird will eat, but there are some specific seeds to use if you want to attract specific birds.

Some birds can be very fussy about what they eat. Others will eat whatever is available. Choosing the right food will attract the birds that you want in your backyard. However, you may still get some unwanted visitors. Spreading a cheap seed, like cracked corn, across your lawn should help to keep away unwelcome visitors likes squirrels and larger birds. Investing in a squirrel-proof feeder is a smart choice. Many birds won't visit feeders if larger animals are around them.

Keep in mind that whenever you place a feeder outside there will certainly be a mess beneath it. Much of this mess will be spilled seed. When feeding mixes, many birds will pick through the seed and only eat their favorites. This can be costly and wasteful. Using a feeder with a tray beneath it can prevent waste and reduce the mess that develops beneath your feeder. But, the tray often becomes dirty as well. Regular cleaning may be necessary. There are seeds available with no hull; these seeds will prevent much of the mess as birds will discard the hull and only eat the seed itself.

Carefully choose the seed or nectar that you will use in order to attract the birds that you are interested in the most. Below, different types of bird food are described. If you scroll to the bottom of this page you will find a simple chart that tells you which birds will eat different types of seed.

Sunflower Seed

Sunflower seeds are available in a variety of styles including striped and white sunflower seeds. However, black-oil sunflower seed is the undisputed king of bird feeding; birds love this seed! Black-oil sunflower shells are thin, so birds can crack them easily. The seeds are larger than striped or white sunflower seeds, so you also get more value for your money. Generally, black-oil sunflower seeds are sold in their hull. However, commercial seed mixes often have sunflower seeds without the hull. This makes less of a mess below your bird feeder.

Commercial Seed Mixes

Commercial seed mixes are extremely popular. They attract a variety of birds because there are many different types of seed and grain in the mix. However, many birds will pick through commercial mixes to find their favorite seed. This can be costly and wasteful -- not the mention the mess!

Thistle and Nyjer Seed

Finches particularly enjoy this seed. You will need to buy a special feeder for thistle or nyjer seed as they are very small. Nyjer and thistle seed are commonly confused, but they are different. Nyjer typically costs more, but it is more effective. If you want goldfinches in your yard, this is the seed you need!

Peanuts

Peanuts are a common food to give birds. They are loaded with fat, which is great for winter feeding. Peanuts will attract nuthatches, chickadees, starlings, and titmice.

Leftovers, Fruit, and Nuts

Birds will appreciate the leftovers that you leave out for them! Something as simple as a banana or some bread crumbs can be a big hit. These items can simply be placed on any ledge for birds to enjoy. But, beware! Squirrels may also enjoy your leftovers!

Suet Mixtures

Suet is a mixture of animal fat and seeds. This can be an extremely important source of food for birds in the winter. Many people make their own suet cakes and plugs.

Nectar

Nectar will attract hummingbirds and orioles to your yard. Hummingbirds are especially attracted to red nectar, but you can also color the feeder red to achieve the same effect. Nectar can be bought both in concentrate and as a ready-to-use product. Many people make their own nectar. Simply mix one part white cane sugar to four parts water for hummingbirds or one part white cane sugar to six parts water for orioles. Boil the mixture to kill bacteria and slow nectar spoilage. You can refrigerate your homemade nectar for up to two weeks. Bees, insects, and ants often visit nectar feeders as well. Many feeders have technologies built in to keep these pests away. To keep ants away, you can simply put petroleum jelly around the feeder ports or on the hook that the feeder hangs from. Installing an ant moat will also keep ants off your feeder.



Bird Feeding Preferences


 

Black-Oil Sunflower Seed

Nyjer or Thistle

Nut Meats

Peanut Kernels

Millet

Canary Seed

Cracked Corn

Suet

Orange Halves

Mealworms

Bluebirds

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Blue Jays

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

X

 

 

Cardinals

X

 

X

 

X

 

X

 

 

X

Chickadees

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

X

Doves

X

X

 

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

Finches

X

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

Flicker (Northern)

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

 

 

Goldfinches

X

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

House Finches

X

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

 

 

Juncos

X

 

X

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

Mockingbirds

 

 

X

 

 

 

 

X

X

X

Nuthatches

X

 

X

X

 

 

 

X

 

X

Orioles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

 

Pigeons

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

Robins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

X

Titmice

X

 

X

X

X

 

 

X

 

X

Warblers, Yellow-rump

 

 

 

In-Shell Only

 

 

 

X

X

X

White Throated Sparrows

X

X

 

X

X

 

X

 

 

 

Woodpecker

X

 

X

X

 

 

X

X

 

X

 

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