Choosing the Best Wild Bird Food

If you want to attract a variety of songbirds, choose a high-quality black oil sunflower seed mix. Black oil seeds have thinner shells which make them easier for birds to open.

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This premium mixture will attract finches, titmice, jays, and grosbeaks to your feeders. Incorporating golden safflower – more nutritious than white – this mixture offers all that birdlife needs for optimal feeding!


Sunflower Seed

Sunflower seeds provide essential energy sources for many different bird species, providing both protein and carbohydrates to fuel their bodies. Our testing revealed that black oil sunflower seed was most consumed; more Kayte Wild Bird Food Black Oil Sunflower seeds vanished daily than any other type.

These seeds feature thinner shells than their striped or gray sunflower counterparts, making them easier for birds of all types to open. Adding them to a feeder is straightforward and relatively cost-effective.

Safflower seed tends to attract pests similar to sunflower seeds, such as European starlings and squirrels. Some seed enthusiasts recommend mixing Wagner’s Safflower Seed in with sunflower and nyjer for best results – our testers still prefer more popular options!

Safflower Seed

Safflower seed is an emerging trend that’s quickly growing in popularity. This high-fat variety can attract cardinals and other backyard birds while dissuading squirrels and other potential pests from taking hold.

Safflower seed can be found mixed with sunflower seeds in bird feed mixes, but you can also purchase it separately. With its thick shell that House Sparrows, European Starlings and Grackles find hard to break open, this feed deters them from visiting your feeders.

Cardinals, grosbeaks, chickadees and doves all enjoy eating safflower seeds; so too do grosbeaks, chickadees and doves. Safflower seed should be offered using either hopper, tray or small hanging and acrylic window feeders; not tube feeders where moisture collects as this could lead to mold and mildew issues. Safflower can be stored dry until they’re needed but exposure to direct sunlight could make them rancid over time.

Nyjer Seed

Nyjer seed is a thin black seed often seen in bird feeders for finches. Due to its high oil content, this food source offers energy for backyard birds of various kinds – finches especially. Nyjer is often included as part of pre-packaged finch mixes sold at wild bird habitat stores or grocery stores.

Contrary to popular belief, nyjer isn’t related to thistle plants or the thistle weeds commonly referred to as dandelions; rather it derives from an African yellow daisy whose seeds have been sterilized prior to import so as to ensure they won’t germinate elsewhere and start spreading further afield.

As nyjer seeds perish quickly, only release small quantities at a time and refill your feeder regularly. Birds tend to prefer mesh or sock feeders for this seed as the birds can grab onto it instead of spilling its contents onto the ground. It is expensive; to ensure affordability use a mix that includes it alongside more affordable seeds.


If your feeder only provides black oil sunflower or nyjer seed, consider filling an additional small feeder with white proso millet seed for ground-feeding sparrows and juncos to enjoy; it also serves as an essential source of protein and minerals for finches, chickadees and titmice.

Warning: when buying millet from hardware stores or pet food aisles, avoid seed mixes containing significant amounts of reddish brown seed. These cheap blends often include filler such as sorghum or red milo that birds deposit on the ground where it sprouts and attracts rodents.

For best results when making millet, combine it in a saucepan with equal parts water or broth (vegetable or chicken). Bring to a boil and continue simmering until all of the liquid has been absorbed; fluff with a fork after 10 minutes of rest to allow additional absorption and extra fluffy texture!