Do you ever wonder when you fill your feeder with mixed seed exactly what birds are eating which seeds? By knowing what birds want will help you choose which seeds to offer and effectively bring more birds to your yard, not to mention save you money.
When I first started feeding the birds I only had one feeder and a bag of mixed seed. I purchased an inexpensive bag of seed and watched the birds arrive. I had a few birds at my feeder but my variety and quantities were limited. I quickly learned that all seed mixes are not created equal. After doing a little research as to what birds preferred I realized most of the ingredients in an economy bag of seed from a big box store were not tops on most birds lists. I began being more selective with my seed purchases and paying attention to what was in them. I now have more feeders in my yard that are only filled with one type of seed. For example one of my feeders is filled with just black oil sunflower, another with peanut halves, and yet another with peanuts in the shell. Birds will quickly find the feeder with the seed of their preference and continue returning to that feeder. I do still offer mixed seed at a couple of my feeders but purchase a quality mix from a bird feed retailer with less ingredients and no fillers like milo or cracked corn. Less ingredients means the birds will not scatter the seeds as much looking for what they want. As a result less seed ends up on the ground going to the squirrels. Ground feeding birds will consume this seed too but it stays much fresher on the feeder. I made sure that my feeders with mixed seed have large landing areas so birds that typically feed on the ground like doves and juncos have easy access to them. The more seed that stays off the ground and in the feeder means less waste.
Here is a list of some common types of bird feed and the birds that consume them. Hopefully this will help you select what to offer in your area.
Black oil sunflower seeds Peanuts in the shell Cut corn Safflower White Millet Peanut Halves
Cardinals Blue Jays Doves Cardinals Doves Woodpeckers
Chickadees Woodpeckers Cardinals Chickadees Juncos Blue Jays
Nuthatches Blue Jays Grosbeaks Sparrows Chickadees
Finches Sparrows Towhees Nuthatches
Blue Jays Wrens
By being a little more selective about what you offer your birds, not only will you attract more quantity and variety to your yard, but you will save money in the long run. Seed specific feeders are a great way to cut back on seed use by reducing waste. Remember when purchasing a seed mix pay close attention to the ingredients.