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Birding Basics Seed Preferences Feeder Types


Seed Preferences


What Kind of Birdseed Should You Use?

The most important element is the type of food offered. Choosing the proper mix of seeds can help attract the birds you want, and discourage those you donít. Different birds prefer different types of seeds, but the widest variety of food sources will ensure the widest variety of birds. What kind of birdseed should you use?


Black-oil sunflower seed: this high-energy food is preferred by the widest variety of species.

White Millet: ground-feeding species, such as sparrows and juncos, are attracted to white millet.

Red milo: some western species, including jays, prefer red milo.

Whole kernel corn: a favorite food for jays, pigeons and doves, quail and pheasants.

Cracked corn: easier to eat for blackbirds, finches and sparrows

Mixed seed: this is best sprinkled on the ground or onto platform feeders

Niger: also known as thistle seed attracts small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls.

Safflower: this seed is typically more expensive than sunflower and attracts many birds, specifically cardinals.

Suet: woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches all enjoy suet.

Fruits: raisins, bananas, currants, and sliced apples may attract mockingbirds, robins, bluebirds, and waxwings. Oranges are a favorite with orioles.


How to match the right food with the right feeder for the birds in your backyard:

Serve any kind of seed in a platform feeder. Use a little everyday, adding more as the seed is eaten. This will attract towhees, juncos, bobwhites, grosbeaks, sparrows, finches, pine siskins, redpolls, woodpeckers, doves, starlings, and red-winged blackbirds.

Serve niger seed, black oil sunflower seed, sunflower hearts or chips in a tubular feeder to attract chickadees, goldfinches, purple and house finches, nuthatches, titmice, pine siskins.

Serve mixed seed, cracked corn, sunflower and safflower in a hopper feeder to attract cardinals, jays, grosbeaks, various sparrows, purple and house finches, nuthatches.

Serve sunflower and peanut pieces during the winter, change to a nectar window feeder in the spring to attract chickadees, cardinals, titmice, finches and hummingbirds.

Serve suet in a suet feeder to attract woodpeckers, mockingbirds, nuthatches, titmice, and warblers.

To serve nectar in a nectar feeder, combine one part sugar to four parts water. Boil then cool to air temperature. Use only white granulated sugar. It is not necessary to add red food coloring. Every two to three days thoroughly clean the feeder with hot water and change the solution. Hang in the shade, if possible. Hummingbirds are first attracted to flowers in your yard and then may find your feeder. The best way to attract orioles is to put out some orange halves early in the spring.



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Birding Basics | Seed Preferences | Feeder Types