If you’re just starting on your bird-feeding journey, the abundance of bird seed choices in your local garden center or bird store can be utterly baffling. Every bag of bird seed, every pack of suet, entices with images of dazzling, vibrant birds, promising to transform your backyard into a bustling aviary.
But don’t be fooled. All bird feeds are not crafted equally.
So, where should you begin if you’re planning to buy your very first bird feed? What should be on top of your list? To clear your confusion, I’ve carefully assembled a list, ranking the bird seeds from the most desirable down to second choices, to help you decide which bird feed is worthy of your time and investment.
Best Bird Seed Overall Winner
Without a shadow of a doubt, Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed. It’s adored by a wide range of bird species and is relatively affordable, making it a clear winner in this category.
Top Budget Bird Feed
Wild Delight Deck Porch N Patio Wild Bird Food. This option gives you a lot of bang for your buck, with a no-waste blend that reduces the debris under your feeder.
Best Premium Bird Feed
Lyric Sunflower Kernels. This shell-free option offers a high-quality, mess-free feeding experience that will appeal to those willing to invest a little more in their bird feeding hobby.
Best Bird Feed for Summer
Lyric Fruit & Nut High Energy Wild Bird Mix. Many birds love fruits and nuts, and this mix is perfect for summer when these foods are naturally abundant.
Best Bird Feed for Winter
Hot Pepper Delight No Melt Suet Dough. In winter, birds need more calories to stay warm. This spicy suet deters squirrels while providing birds with a much-needed energy boost.
Best Bird Feed for Beginners
Kaytee Birders’ Blend. It offers a well-balanced mix that attracts a variety of birds, making it a great choice for those who are just starting out and aren’t yet sure which birds they’ll be feeding.
Best Bird Food for Northern Flickers
Suet Plus Woodpecker Blend: Catering to the unique dietary needs of Northern Flickers, the Suet Plus Woodpecker Blend is a rich, energy-packed treat for these distinctive woodpeckers. Easy to use and filled with real insects, this suet blend is sure to be a hit with any Northern Flicker visitors to your yard.
Best Bird Feed for Goldfinches
Morning Song Goldfinch Thistle Seed. Perfect for attracting beautiful goldfinches, this feed may have a narrower appeal, but it’s unbeatable for certain bird lovers.
Bird Food Buying Guide
When it comes to attracting and feeding your feathered friends, choosing the right bird food can make all the difference. Whether you’re a birdwatching enthusiast or simply love the natural serenity birds bring to your backyard, this comprehensive bird food buying guide will help you understand the essentials of bird feeding and make an informed choice.
1. Understanding Bird Diets
Birds are diverse creatures, and so are their diets. Some birds like sparrows and finches love seeds, while others like woodpeckers and flickers prefer insects. Then there are hummingbirds, which primarily feed on nectar. Understanding the diet of the birds you want to attract is crucial.
- Seeds: Seeds are a universal food choice for many birds. Different types of seeds attract different bird species. For instance, black-oil sunflower seeds are a favorite among cardinals, finches, and titmice.
- Nectar: Hummingbirds and orioles thrive on a diet of sweet nectar. A hummingbird feeder filled with a sugar-water solution can be a fantastic way to attract these species.
- Suet: Suet is a high-energy food source that’s especially popular during the winter months. Birds such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and wrens are attracted to suet feeders.
- Insects and mealworms: Some birds like robins, bluebirds, and wrens enjoy a diet of insects and worms. Offering dried mealworms can be an excellent way to draw these birds.
2. Bird Food Types
Based on the food preferences of birds, there are several types of bird food available:
- Seed mixes: These are blends of various seeds and grains. They’re versatile and can attract a wide range of birds. Ensure the mix contains high-quality seeds like sunflower, millet, and safflower, and avoid those with lots of fillers like wheat, milo seeds and oats.
- Pellets: These are compact forms of all essential nutrients. They are easy to handle, less messy, and suitable for all types of birds.
- Suet cakes: These are blocks of fat, often mixed with seeds, berries, and insects. They provide plenty of energy, making them ideal for cold winter months.
- Nectar concentrate: This is for hummingbirds and orioles. You can buy pre-made nectar or make your own by dissolving sugar in water.
- Mealworms: Both live and dried mealworms are available. These are high in protein and favored by insectivorous birds.
3. Bird Feeder Types
The type of feeder you use is as important as the food you offer. Different feeders cater to different species and food types.
- Tube Feeders: These are excellent for small birds that cling, like finches and chickadees, and work well with small seeds.
- Hopper Feeders: These attract a wide variety of birds, from sparrows to cardinals. They can hold a significant amount of seed, reducing the need for frequent refilling.
- Suet Feeders: These are specially designed to hold suet cakes. They’re particularly attractive to woodpeckers, nuthatches, and starlings.
- Nectar Feeders: Specifically designed for hummingbirds and orioles, these feeders hold liquid nectar.
- Ground or Platform Feeders: Ideal for ground-feeding birds like doves, jays, and blackbirds.
4. Consider the Season
Birds’ feeding habits change with the seasons. In spring and summer, they need high-protein foods for breeding and raising their young, making insects and worms ideal. In the colder months, high-energy foods like suet and sunflower seeds are perfect.
5. Local Bird Species
Consider the types of birds that live in your region. If you’re unsure, a local Audubon Society chapter or bird watching group can help identify the species common to your area and their specific dietary needs.
6. Quality over Quantity
Invest in high-quality bird food. Cheap blends often contain filler seeds that most birds don’t eat. It may seem like you’re getting more for your money, but much of it ends up wasted.
Every bird’s preference is different. It may take some trial and error to figure out what your backyard visitors enjoy most. Don’t be afraid to try different foods and monitor the response.
Remember, providing fresh water along with food will make your yard even more appealing to birds. Happy bird watching!
You may think you know the common backyard birds in the United States, but let’s dive deeper into their identification and how to attract them with the best bird seed for each species.
Attracting techniques may vary depending on the species you want to attract, but generally, providing food, water, and shelter are the key elements to bring birds to your backyard. Bird feeders are a great way to provide food, and there are different types of bird seed that can attract specific species.
To identify the birds that visit your backyard, it’s essential to observe their physical characteristics, such as size, color, beak shape, and wing shape. You can also use bird guides and online resources to aid you in identifying the species.
Once you know the species of birds that frequent your backyard, you can provide the best bird seed for them. For example, finches prefer nyjer seed, while woodpeckers enjoy suet.
Consider the type of bird you want to attract when selecting the appropriate bird seed for your backyard. Different birds have different preferences when it comes to food. For example, if you want to attract finches, look for bird seed that contains hulled sunflower seeds. On the other hand, if you want to attract doves, look for bird seed that contains millet seeds.
Keep in mind that certain types of bird seed can also pose risks, such as spilled millet seeds sprouting and causing a mess in your backyard. When selecting bird seed, make sure to read the ingredients carefully and consider the needs and preferences of the birds you want to attract.
To ensure that your bird seed does not create a mess in your backyard, consider the following tips:
- Choose no mess or waste-free bird seed options, which are designed to minimize waste and mess.
- Store your bird seed in a cool, dry place to prevent it from becoming wet or stale.
Regularly clean your bird feeder and surrounding area to prevent the buildup of mold, bacteria, and other harmful substances that can harm birds.
FAQs for Best Seed for Wild Birds
What is in Bird Seed Mixes?
A wild bird seed mix can contain a wide variety of seeds to feed birds, some of them are very beneficial whilst some brands might use cheap bird seed filler like milo seeds. It’s worth getting a bird seed specifically for the birds in your garden, whether that is one which contains striped sunflower seeds for larger birds or blends of white millet, sunflower seeds and cracked corn. Add in safflower seed if you want to deter squirrels.
Different birds prefer differer seeds and different ways of eating, from tray feeders to upside down suet feeders so research the wild birds in your yard to see their preference. If you have a squirrel problem slowly introduce your birds to safflower seeds, which they will eat but squirrels won’t. Feeding wild birds can be great fun and the best way to attract wild birds is with a general mix such as kaytee wild bird mix until you know what your birds eat. Remember some birds like orioles rarely visit bird feeders so try different types for them.
What is the best bird seed to attract colorful birds?
To attract a variety of colorful birds, consider using black oil sunflower seeds. These seeds are a favorite of many vibrant bird species, including cardinals, finches, and blue jays. Their high oil content and easy-to-crack shells make them appealing to a wide range of birds.
What kind of bird seed attracts what kind of birds?
Different seeds attract different bird species. For example, sunflower seeds are loved by cardinals and finches, while niger (thistle) seeds are a favorite for goldfinches and siskins. Cracked corn and millet attract sparrows, juncos, and blackbirds, and safflower seeds draw cardinals, chickadees, and doves.
What bird seed attracts cardinals?
Cardinals are particularly fond of black oil sunflower seeds and safflower seeds. These seeds have a high oil content that provides essential nutrients and energy for the birds, and their shells are easy for cardinals to crack open.
What is healthy bird feed?
Healthy bird feed is a blend of various seeds, grains, nuts, and dried fruits that cater to the diverse dietary needs of different bird species. It should be free from chemicals and preservatives. Black oil sunflower seeds, millet, niger seeds, and cracked corn are all healthy options.
What is the best food for wild birds?
The best food for wild birds varies depending on the species. However, a mix of seeds (sunflower, millet, niger), grains (corn), nuts (peanuts), and fruits (berries, apple bits) typically appeals to a wide range of wild birds. Fresh, clean water and grit (crushed eggshells or sand) are also crucial.