Cheap wild bird seed mixes often contain filler ingredients that birds don’t prefer, wasting money in wasted uneaten seed on the ground. By investing a little extra in high quality seed mixes you could save both money and effort by not leaving so much on its way back down into nature unused.
Black oil sunflower seeds provide plenty of energy with easily crackable shells that attract finches, nuthatches and cardinals. Make these available through a feeder with a hopper or squirrel-proof tube type configuration to maximize attraction for these beautiful birds.
Sunflower seeds are high in fat content and provide birds with energy during colder months when insects are scarcer. However, too much sunflower seed in any bird’s diet could lead to obesity and health complications that threaten its well-being.
Hulled black oil sunflower seed is your best bet for creating an uncluttered feeder, with its thin shell being easy for cardinals, grosbeaks and chickadees to crack open, while thicker-walled striped sunflower seeds may prove more difficult for House Sparrows and Starlings to break open. However, any feeder containing such seed should have additional baffles installed to deter problem birds like House Sparrows and Starlings from accessing it.
Millet is a nutritious grain low in fat that provides essential magnesium, phosphorus, protein and calcium nutrients to wild birds. Millet can be offered alone or mixed in as part of a mix for young or sick birds to begin eating a diet or to alleviate stress during breeding, moulting or weaning processes.
Millet can be fed in feeders such as hopper or tube feeders, scattered at ground-feeding stations, or placed into low trays with excellent drainage for easy clean-up compared to milo, which often creates an unruly mess at feeders and leads to waste. Millet’s minimal mess makes it ideal for finches, canaries and sparrows who prefer smaller seeds such as finches.
Contrary to sunflower seeds, safflower has an extremely hard shell which is difficult for birds to open and its unique shape and bitter taste often deter less-than-welcome feeder visitors – including squirrels!
Safflower seeds provide high-quality fats. Though not an abundant source of vitamins and minerals, their oil contains vitamin E as well as essential unsaturated fatty acids like linoleic and oleic acids for overall good health.
Safflower seeds can be found in most grocery stores or pet and wild bird stores as wild bird feed, and an updated variety known as NutraSaff offers more nutrition while being easier for birds to open than previous varieties.
Oats may seem an unlikely choice as part of a bird seed mix, but they contain important trace nutrients that may benefit birds during growth spurts, mating seasons, and after vigorous foraging. Oats also provide 13.3% of their daily recommended value of phosphorus which helps build bones and cells.
Breakfast cereals that haven’t been heated (like oatmeal ) can make great bird feed; just ensure there is always water nearby for your birds to drink from! Furthermore, greased oats should only be given in limited amounts as too much can lead to obesity in birds.
Sunflower seeds are an integral component of most bird diets and smaller black-oil variety is often preferred by finches, chickadees, nuthatches, sparrows, woodpeckers and other small birds. On the other hand, larger striped varieties with harder shells may not appeal as much because their hard outer coating makes it harder for small birds to crack them open.
Millet is another year-round seed, appealing to small birds thanks to its ease of consumption. Hopper, tray and tube feeders can all serve this food source; especially popular among juncos, buntings and sparrows.
Avoid seed mixes containing hard seeds like oats, wheat and barley as these attract mostly pigeons, doves and larger-billed finches – not to mention squirrels and other unwanted nuisance species!
Barley is an excellent source of dietary fiber, which helps birds digest their food more easily. Furthermore, it also supplies proteins and essential vitamins. Cooked barley tends to be more easily digested than raw varieties.
Cheap bird seed mixes typically include fillers such as milo (sorghum) and cracked corn that attract pigeons and large birds but do little to attract smaller species. Additional fillers in such blends could include tar seeds, dog biscuits, rice or sawdust.
As an extra calorie boost, provide your bird with nyjer seeds (also known as thistle). These small black seeds provide essential nutrition to American goldfinches, pine siskins and dark-eyed juncos – not to mention usually being left alone by pesky bully birds like grackles and starlings!