Bird watching is a popular hobby with more 48 million Americans participating, according to the WWF Travel Blogs website. That's about one out of five Americans. In their eagerness to lure popular wild birds to their yards, many novice bird watchers buy just any birdseed. However, there are many types of wild birdseed and only a few kinds attract certain birds. It's important to know which seeds are easier for birds to eat. Bird watchers should also be careful not to overload a feeder as wasted seed can easily fall to the ground, drawing unwanted predators.
Black-oil Sunflower Seed
Black-oil sunflower is rated as the top birdseed for wild birds, according to the Wild Birds Forever website. Having a higher amount of meat in the seed, black-oil sunflower seed provides high quality protein and its soft outer shells makes it easier for smaller birds, such as nuthatches, chickadees, goldfinches and finches, to eat it. It has a high concentration of oil which helps winter birds because they can spread oil over their feathers to keep dry and warm.
Striped Sunflower Seed
Striped sunflower seed is cheaper than black-oil sunflower seed, but it's not as popular. This seed has a tougher shell to crack, making it harder to eat, especially for small birds. Birds known to eat striped sunflower seed include cardinals, blue jays and some woodpeckers.
Cracked corn is used to attract a large variety of birds, such as jays, eastern bluebirds, pheasants and other game birds. This seed is a better choice for attracting smaller birds who are better able to eat it than whole kernel corn. Using cracked corn all year attracts other birds that don't normally come to your other bird feeders.
Millet, which is a major part of most seed mixes, is a tiny round seed as small as a pin's head. White proso millet, which is the most well-liked variety, is light-colored. Red and golden millet aren't as popular and are not as available in stores. Birds that prefer millet include sparrows, doves, cardinals, juncos, quail, bobwhites and buntings. This seed can be used in various feeders, including hopper feeders, hanging tubular feeders and tray feeders.
Wild Birdseed Mixes
Premium mixes are packaged mixtures of seed for attracting various wild birds. Usually they're made up of seeds such as black-oil sunflower, millet, striped sunflower and others that are mixed together. Cheaper mixes come from the poultry industry and aren't designed for bird watching enthusiasts who want to attract the most desirable birds. The cheaper mixtures basically consist of cracked corn, red and white milo, striped sunflower and other seeds.
Bird enthusiasts who live in wooded areas where bears are living should use caution in displaying seed. Besides bears, other uninvited guests, such as squirrels, can be a problem in eating bird seed intended for wild birds. As squirrels can jump as high as 8 feet, feeders should be placed far above their reach.