Bird Seed Unpacked: What is Milo Used for?



What Is Milo Seed

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If you’re an avid bird feeder, you may have noticed that milo is a common ingredient in many bird seeds mixes. But what exactly is milo and what purpose does it serve in bird seed?

Milo, also known as sorghum, is a type of grass grain that is commonly used as filler in birdseed mixes. It’s an inexpensive ingredient that helps to bulk up the mix and make it more affordable for consumers to feed birds.

Milo in Birdseed

Milo, comes in two varieties: white and red. The red variety is more commonly used in birdseed mixes. Milo is a drought-resistant grain that is easy to grow, making it a cost-effective ingredient for commercial seed mixes.

So, why is milo used in birdseed? Well, milo is a favorite of many Western ground-feeding birds, including Steller’s Jays, Curve-billed Thrashers, and Gambel’s Quails. In fact, in seed preference tests conducted by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, these birds preferred milo to sunflower seeds. But its not eaten by many other birds so you need to identify the birds at your bird feeders to see if you can have it in your bird food seed mix.

You will never find it in the best bird seed mixes (see our guide to best bird seeds ), but for some birds, mixing it with other seeds like nyjer seed, safflower seeds or canary seed can work if your local birds will eat it.

Milo is also a good option for wild bird lovers who want to attract ground-feeding birds to their yards. To feed ground-feeding birds with milo, scatter it on the ground or use low tray feeders to make it easier for them to access the seeds.

Nutritional ComponentBenefit for Birds
CarbohydratesProvides energy for flying and maintaining body heat
ProteinsEssential for feather growth and repair, muscle development, and overall growth
FatsProvide energy and aid in the absorption of certain vitamins
FiberSupports digestive health
Vitamins and MineralsVarious roles in supporting bird health and well-being (for example, calcium for strong beak and bones, B vitamins for energy metabolism, etc.)

Bird Species That Eat Milo

Not all birds eat Milo, and often you will find it left over in bird feeders, but here are some bird species that enjoy eating milo:

  • House Sparrows: These small, brown-gray birds with black streaks and marks on their throat are effective communicators, using multiple sounds to communicate with themselves. House Sparrows eat milo seeds, chili peppers, and fruits.
  • Doves: Doves are ground-feeding birds that enjoy eating milo. They are often found in large flocks and are known for their gentle cooing sounds.
  • Finches: Finches are small, colorful songbirds that enjoy eating milo. They are known for their beautiful singing voices and can often be seen flitting about in trees and bushes.
  • Pheasants: Pheasants are game birds that enjoy eating milo. They are often hunted for their meat and are known for their colorful plumage.
  • Starlings: European Starlings and Blackbirds enjoy eating milo. These birds are known for their loud, chattering calls and can often be seen in large flocks.
  • Jays: Jays are large, colorful birds that enjoy eating milo. Steller’s Jays and Blue Jays are two species that have been known to prefer milo over other types of birdseed.
  • Ground-feeding birds: Many ground-feeding birds, such as Thrashers, Towhees, and Buntings, enjoy eating milo. These birds can often be found foraging on the ground for food.
  • Game birds: Wild Turkeys and Pheasants are two types of game birds that enjoy eating milo. These birds are often hunted for their meat and are known for their beautiful plumage.
  • Squirrels and Mice: Squirrels and mice are not birds, but they are known to enjoy eating milo as well. If you have a bird feeder in your backyard, you may notice these furry creatures sneaking in to steal some of the birdseed.

Bird Species That DONT Eat Milo

Numerous species tend to leave milo uneaten, instead favoring other seeds such as black oil sunflower seeds, millet, and nyjer seeds. Some of the birds that typically ignore milo include:

  1. Northern Cardinals
  2. Blue Jays
  3. Black-capped Chickadees
  4. Finches such as American Goldfinches, Purple finches and pine siskins
  5. House Finches
  6. Tufted Titmice
  7. Nuthatches

This is not an exhaustive list, and preferences can vary depending on the specific bird populations in a given area.

Here’s a summary table:

Bird SpeciesLikely to Eat Milo
Northern CardinalsNo
Blue JaysNo
Black-capped ChickadeesNo
American GoldfinchesNo
House FinchesNo
Tufted TitmiceNo

If you notice that milo is often left uneaten in your bird feeders, you might consider switching to a different seed type or a higher-quality birdseed mix that does not include milo. This could attract a wider variety of birds and ensure less waste.

Bird SpeciesPreferred Seeds
Northern CardinalsSunflower (black oil or striped), Safflower, Cracked Corn
Blue JaysSunflower (especially in-shell), Corn, Peanuts
Black-capped ChickadeesSunflower (especially black oil), Nyjer (thistle), Peanuts
American GoldfinchesNyjer (thistle), Sunflower (especially hulled)
House FinchesSunflower (especially black oil), Nyjer (thistle)
Tufted TitmiceSunflower (especially black oil), Peanuts
NuthatchesSunflower (especially black oil), Peanuts, Suet
Mourning DovesCracked Corn, Millet, Sunflower (especially black oil)
Downy WoodpeckersSunflower (especially hulled), Suet, Peanuts
Dark-eyed JuncosMillet, Sunflower (especially black oil), Cracked Corn

Milo Vs Other Seeds

Milo vs Millet

Milo and millet are both small, round seeds that are often included in birdseed mixes. However, millet is generally considered to be a better option for birds than milo. This is because millet is more nutritious and easier for birds to digest. If possible, choose a birdseed mix that contains more millet than milo.

Milo vs Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds are one of the most popular types of birdseed. While milo is also a common ingredient in birdseed mixes, sunflower seeds are generally considered to be a better option. Sunflower seeds are high in fat and protein, which makes them a great source of energy for birds. If you’re looking for a high-quality birdseed mix, look for one that contains black oil sunflower seeds.

Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed

When it comes to winning hearts across the aviary kingdom, Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed reigns supreme!

As a bird-feeding enthusiast, you yearn to see a diverse array of feathery friends in your backyard. Wagner’s Black Oil Sunflower Seed provides just that, offering an irresistible feast that lures various species. It’s not only cost-effective, but it’s also an all-around crowd-pleaser that your avian visitors will absolutely adore!


  • Wide Variety of Birds: With Wagner’s, attract the widest array of birds right in your backyard. From Cardinals to Woodpeckers, every bird species loves these sunflower seeds.
  • High Energy Content: Each seed is rich in energy, helping birds maintain a healthy lifestyle and giving them the boost they need to soar high.
  • Easy to Consume: The thin shell of this sunflower seed makes it easily accessible for small beaked birds, ensuring every bird can relish this delicious feed.
  • Quality and Purity: Customers love that Wagner’s offers high-quality seeds with minimal twigs and other debris. Your bag is filled to the brim with pure, high-grade bird food.


  • Shell remnants: The downside of shelled seeds is the potential mess under your feeder.
  • Limited to seed-eating birds: Might not attract species that prefer insects or fruit.

Milo vs Nyjer

Nyjer, also known as thistle seed, is another popular type of birdseed. While nyjer is more expensive than milo, it is also more nutritious. Nyjer is high in fat and protein, which makes it a great source of energy for birds. If you’re looking to attract finches or other small birds to your feeder, consider using nyjer instead of milo.

Milo vs Cracked Corn

Cracked corn is a popular type of birdseed that is often used to attract larger birds like juncos. While cracked corn is a good source of energy for birds, it is not as nutritious as other types of seed. If you’re looking to attract a variety of birds to your feeder, consider using a mix of different seeds instead of just cracked corn.

Milo vs Safflower

Safflower is another popular type of birdseed that is often used to attract cardinals. While safflower is more expensive than milo, it is also more nutritious. Safflower is high in fat and protein, which makes it a great source of energy for birds. If you’re looking to attract cardinals to your feeder, consider using safflower instead of milo.

Milo vs Other Types of Millet

There are several different types of millet that are commonly used in birdseed mixes, including proso millet and white proso millet. While milo is similar to these types of millet, it is generally considered to be less nutritious. If possible, choose a birdseed mix that contains more of these types of millet than milo.

Nutritional Value of Milo

Milo, also known as sorghum, is a cereal grain that is often used in bird seed mixes. It is a great source of nutrition for birds and provides them with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals.

Milo is a rich source of carbohydrates, which provide birds with energy and help them maintain their body weight. It also contains a good amount of protein, which is essential for building and repairing tissues in the body.

In addition to carbohydrates and protein, milo is also rich in vitamins and minerals. It contains high levels of B vitamins, including thiamin, riboflavin, and niacin, which are essential for maintaining a healthy nervous system, skin, and digestive system. Milo also contains minerals such as iron, magnesium, and phosphorus, which are important for maintaining healthy bones, teeth, and muscles.

One of the benefits of milo is that it is gluten-free, making it an excellent choice for birds that have gluten sensitivities. It is also low in fat, which makes it a great choice for birds that need to maintain a healthy weight.

Milo as a Filler in Birdseed

While it may seem like a good idea to have a mix of different seeds, including milo, it is important to understand that most birds won’t eat it.

Milo is a cheap ingredient that is added to birdseed mixes to bulk them up. Unfortunately, this means that much of the seed will be wasted as birds kick it off the feeder to the ground, where it will sit until it rots and decomposes. This waste not only harms the environment but also makes bird feeding more expensive in the long run.

It is important to note that not all birdseed mixes contain milo, and some mixes may have more of it than others. When purchasing birdseed, it is always a good idea to read the label and choose a mix that does not contain milo or has it in smaller quantities.

Some poeple buy milo and add it to more expensive seeds like black oil sunflower seed to make a budget mix that wild birds may eat.

Potential Issues with Milo

Milo is a common ingredient in birdseed mixes, but it can cause some issues at bird feeding stations. Here are some potential issues to keep in mind:

Attracts unwanted pests

Milo is not as attractive to some desirable backyard birds, such as buntings, finches, and sparrows, as other seed types like sunflower seeds. This means that having too much milo at a feeding station can attract unwanted pests, such as raccoons, squirrels, and rodents. These pests can damage feeders and steal food meant for birds.

Spoils quickly

Milo is not as durable as some other seed types, and it can spoil quickly when exposed to moisture or humidity. This can create unpleasant smells or mildew that can damage other food in the feeder. Additionally, birds may be less likely to eat spoiled milo, which can lead to wasted food.

Thin shell

Milo has a thin shell, which means that it can be easily cracked open by birds with strong beaks. This can lead to a lot of wasted seed, as birds may only eat the inside of the seed and leave the shell behind.

Thick shell

On the other hand, some milo seeds may have a thick shell that is difficult for birds to crack open. This can make it difficult for birds to access the seed inside, which can lead to wasted food and frustrated birds.

FAQs on Milo Seeds and Bird Food

Can people eat milo?

Yes, people can eat milo, also known as sorghum. It’s a versatile grain that’s used in a variety of foods worldwide. Sorghum can be popped like popcorn, ground into flour for baking, or used in the production of alcoholic beverages. It’s high in nutrients and often used in gluten-free diets.

What do farmers use milo for?

Farmers primarily use milo (sorghum) as livestock feed because it’s cost-effective and nutritionally comparable to corn. It’s a significant source of energy, protein, and fiber for livestock. Additionally, sorghum’s resilience to drought and heat makes it an attractive choice for farmers in hotter climates.

What crop is milo?

Milo is a type of cereal grain known scientifically as Sorghum bicolor. It’s a warm-season grass species that’s drought-tolerant and can thrive in a variety of soil conditions, making it a popular crop in arid and semi-arid regions around the world, particularly in Africa and Asia.

What is the use of milo seed?

Milo seeds, or sorghum, are used for various purposes, including human consumption, livestock feed, and biofuel production. In human consumption, the seeds can be ground into flour or popped like popcorn. Farmers also use it to feed livestock due to its high nutritional content.

Is milo good for bird seed?

Milo is often used in birdseed because it’s a cost-effective grain. However, its appeal to birds varies. While birds such as pheasants, doves, and wild turkeys will eat milo, many backyard bird species like sparrows and blackbirds may leave it uneaten in favor of other seeds.

Why do they put milo in bird seed?

Milo is commonly included in birdseed mixes due to its low cost and high availability. It also serves to bulk up the seed mix. While not all birds will consume it, certain species, especially larger ground-feeding birds, will readily eat milo seeds.

What bird eats milo seeds?

Milo seeds are primarily consumed by larger bird species, including wild turkeys, quails, doves, and pheasants. Many ground-feeding birds also eat milo. However, common backyard bird species, such as sparrows and blackbirds, may not prefer milo and often leave it uneaten.

What’s the difference between millet and milo?

Millet and milo (sorghum) are two different types of cereal grains. Millet is a small-seeded grass that is highly drought-resistant, often used for human consumption and bird feed. Milo, on the other hand, produces larger seeds and is frequently used in livestock feed, in addition to being eaten by people and used in birdseed.

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