Wildlife and Nature Photography

Seed and The Birds That Consume It

10856423456 47cdc7f0f4 z1 - Seed and The Birds That Consume It

By filling this feeder with just peanut halves, the Northern Flicker pictured here gets exactly what it wants. The fact that it doesn’t scatter seeds in search of peanuts saves me money.

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.

Good birding,


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