Choosing the Right Seed

Choosing the Right Seed

There are several types of wild bird seed available today that will attract a variety of birds to your backyard. Use the chart at the bottom of this page to determine the types of birds you can attract to your feeders.

Types Of Bird Seed

Black-Oil Sunflower Seed

The #1 choice to feed and attract the greatest variety of birds to your feeders. Rich in oil, black oil sunflower seeds give birds the energy they need to live. The thin shell makes it an easy bird seed to open, even for the smaller birds. Offer this type of food in Hopper or Tube type bird feeder. You’ll attract Cardinals, Nuthatches, finches, and a variety of others. If you are going to offer only one type, give black oil sunflower seed a try.

Hulled Sunflower Seed

This is the same sunflower seed except that the shell has been removed. Because it is more expensive, offer it in a squirrel proof type feeder. The nice thing about offering sunflower hearts and chips is that there is no mess, since all of the bird seed will be eaten. You’ll attract the same birds without the mess.

Nyjer – Thistle Seed

Thistle or more accurately, Nyjer seed, is a finch favorite. A specialty food loved by Goldfinches, Purple Finches and even Mourning Doves. This tiny black seed from India and Africa is available at most places that offer wild bird food. Finches are attracted more to the nyjer than sunflower seed. Pine Siskins also like nyjer seed. A special feeder with small ports will be needed when offering this seed.

Striped Sunflower

While most birds prefer black oil sunflower to striped sunflower seed, it still remains an alternative. Try placing some on a platform feeder to prevent squirrels and raccoons from raiding your feeders. Place it away from your other feeders. The shell is harder than black oil sunflower seed making it more difficult for small birds to open. Still, Bluejays, Cardinals, and some Woodpeckers will make use of striped sunflower.

Cracked or Whole Kernel Corn

Corn will attract Eastern Bluebirds, Jays, Pheasants, and other game birds. By offering cracked corn throughout the year, you’ll be able to watch birds that normally don’t visit your other feeders. It is best to place cracked corn on platform feeders or scattered on the ground for game birds. Other animals are likely to be attracted to cracked corn also.

Premium Mixes

These are packages of a mixture of bird seeds that are attractive to a variety of birds. Generally consisting of black oil sunflower, peanut, millet, striped sunflower, and others mixed together.

Any desirable birds that feed on these types of bird seed, will readily come to eat at any of the other types you place in your yard. Most of the cheaper mixes are derivatives of the poultry industry. And as such, are not suited for bird watching enthusiast.


While not a bird seed, so many birds are attracted to suet. Suet is made from beef fat. Most bird watching stores offer suet with bird seed, berries, and peanut butter mixed in with the suet.

Some of the birds that enjoy suet are: Black Capped Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, and Wrens. Offer suet in a suet feeder, a special wire cage made to hold suet.

Once you decide which birds you want to attract, you’ll find the Bird Seed here.


Type of Bird

Food Preference

Blue Jays Sunflower seed, safflower, cracked corn,
peanuts, suet, bread, peanut butter, lard mixes, seed mixes
House Finch Mixed seed, peanuts, fruit, suet, niger,
sunflower, safflower, thistle
Gold Finch Thistle/nyger, sunflower seed, hulled sunflower,
millet, fruit, suet, peanuts
House Wren Suet, bread crumbs
House Sparrow Mixed seed, sunflower seeds
Wrens Suet, suet mix, peanut butter, bread, apples
Indigo Bunting Peanuts, millet, variety of seeds
Northern Flicker Suet, peanut butter, sunflower seeds, fruit,
meat, bread
Oriole Oranges, apples, grape jelly, oriole jelly,
sugar water, soft raisins
Painted Bunting Sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Pine Grosbeak Sunflower seeds, grain
Pine Siskin Nuts, rolled oats, thistle, mixed seeds,
sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, millet, suet
Purple Finch Sunflower seeds, thistle
Red Crossbills Sunflower seeds, thistle
Red Poll Suet, bread, sunflower seeds
Red Winged Blackbird Bread, cracked corn, mixed seeds, sunflower
seeds, sunflower chips, millet, suet
Robins, Bluebirds, Thrushes Apples, sunflower seed, bread, grapes, suet,
mealworms, berries, raisins, nut meal, seed mixes
Rose Breasted Grosbeaks Sunflower seeds, grapes, orange halves
American Gold Finch Sunflower seeds, thistle/niger
Black Billed Magpie Meat, bread
Bobwhite Quail Sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Brown Headed Cowbird Bread, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, seed mixes
Bushtit Bread, sunflower seeds, bird seed mixes
Cardinals Cracked corn, nuts, sunflower seeds, safflower,
millet, peanuts, apple, bread
Black Capped Chickadees Sunflower seeds, peanuts, bread, suet
Crows Bread, scraps, corn, suet
Magpies Scraps, suet, peanuts, bread
Downy Woodpeckers Sunflower seeds, corn, cornbread, peanut butter,
suet, shelled peanuts, sunflower seeds
Grosbeaks Sunflower seeds, safflower, apple, fruit, suet,
millet, bread, peanut kernels
Buntings Sunflower seeds, safflower, apple, fruit, suet,
millet, bread, peanut kernels
Grackles Sunflower seeds, bread, scraps
Titmouse Sunflower seeds, suet, bread, safflower,
peanuts, peanut kernel
Chickadees Peanut kernel, sunflower seeds, suet, bread,
Nuthatches Suet, suet mix, sunflower seeds, nuts, cracked
corn, bread
Creepers Suet, suet mix, sunflower seeds, nuts, cracked
corn, bread
Mockingbirds Halved apples, fruit, bread, suet, sunflower
seeds, nuts
Thrashers Halved apples, fruit, bread, suet, sunflower
seeds, nuts
Flycatchers, Phoebes Bees, wasps, ants, mealworms
Kinglets Suet, bread
Waxwings Berries, raisins, sliced apple, canned peas,
currants, grapes
Warblers Suet, suet mix, water, fruit, breads, sugar
water, nut pieces
Tanagers Suet, fruit, sugar water, mealworms, bread
Song Sparrows Sunflower seeds, seed mixes, bread, thistle,
Starlings Bread, scraps, suet
Stellers Jays Nuts, scraps, suet
Tree Sparrows Wild bird seed mixes, millet
Sparrows Millet, peanut kernels, suet, bread, canary
seed, sunflower seed
White Breasted Nuthatches Peanuts, sunflower seeds, suet, safflower
Hairy Woodpeckers Sunflower seeds, nuts, cheese, apples, bananas,
suet, peanut butter
Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers Nutmeats, suet, fruit
Quail Cracked corn, millet, berries
Pigeons Cracked corn, sunflower seeds, milo, bread,
thistle, nuts
Doves Cracked corn, sunflower seeds, milo, bread,
thistle, nuts
Roadrunners Meat scraps, suet
Hummingbirds Plant nectars, small insects, sugar water,
instant nectars
Woodpeckers Insects, fruit, sunflower seeds, suet, nuts,
sugar water
Western Tanagers, Scarlet Tanagers Orange halves, grapes
Juncos Millet, sunflower seeds, cracked corn, peanuts,
bread, nut meats, thistle, suet
Towhees Millet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, grapes,
cracked corn, suet
Rufhouse Sided Towhee Bird seed mixes, thistle, sunflower seeds,
millet, cracked corn
Baltimore Oriole Suet, orange halves
Brown Thrashers Orange halves, cracked corn
Carolina Wrens Suet, sunflower chips
Cat Birds Raisins, grapes, orange halves, suet
Mourning Dove Millet, thistle, sunflower chips, safflower,
cracked corn
Pileated Woodpeckers Suet
Red Bellied Woodpeckers Suet, sunflower seeds, peanuts, orange halves,
safflower, cracked corn

When choosing wild bird seed to place in your bird feeding station, determine the types of birds you want to attract. Try to set out several varieties of seed and be sure to include a source of water both in summer and winter.

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