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Bird Feeders/Bird Seed Preferences


The most common type of seed offered at feeders in North America is black-oil sunflower seed. This small sunflower seed is high in energy and has thin shells, making it the preferred food item for a wide variety of birds. Black-oil sunflower is among the favorite feeder foods of cardinals, chickadees, finches, and sparrows. Woodpeckers even consume these seeds on occasion.


Striped sunflower seeds are larger and thicker-shelled than black-oil sunflower. Frequently found in seed mixes, striped sunflower is a favorite food item for large-billed birds capable of cracking the shells.

Nyjer (thistle)

Often called "thistle" seed, nyjer is not related to North American thistle plants. This imported seed has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely due to its ability to attract finches including American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and Common Redpoll.


Safflower resembles a white sunflower seed. Grown for its oil and for bird seed, safflower attracts cardinals and other big-billed birds. However, in our experience, most birds prefer sunflower seeds over safflower.


Corn is an inexpensive grain that many FeederWatchers provide for birds. Whole corn is a favorite of Wild Turkeys and ducks, while cracked corn will attract doves, quail, and sparrows.


A small, round grain, millet is commonly found in seed mixes. Millet is a favored food of many smaller, ground foraging birds. A handful of millet sprinkled on the ground will keep your juncos and sparrows happy.


A reddish-colored, round grain, milo is often a major component of inexpensive seed mixes. Unfortunately, it is not a favorite of most birds, and the seed often goes to waste. Western birds tend to consume milo more than eastern birds. In the east, it is best to avoid mixes with large amounts of milo.

Mixed Seed

Any number of seeds may be combined into a comercial seed mix, or you can create your own. Seed mixes are generally prefered by birds visiting platform feeders. Mixed seed may also be spread on the ground. Try mixes containing millet, cracked corn, and sunflower seed to attract sparrows, juncos, doves, and quail.

Oriole Feeders with Nectar

Orioles are attracted to Nectar, Oranges and other Fruits Attract Orioles with this Oriole Nectar Recipe Oriole Nectar Recipe:

Mix 1 cup of boiling water
1/6 cup of sugar (white sugar works fine)
The basic recipe is six parts water to one part sugar. Allow the water to cool enough before hanging the oriole feeder back in its position outside. Any left over sugar-water can be stored in the refrigerator for several days.

Nectar should be replaced a minimum of once a week and more often in the summer. When possible, it is best to locate the feeder in a shady area. Clean your oriole feeder with mild detergent and rinse thoroughly when you replace the nectar.

Bird Feeder/Bird Seed Preferences
What seed attracts birds to your backyard?
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