Wild bird seed is a draw for the
most common feeder visitors.

The food you offer is critical to attracting birds.  Wild bird seed offered in feeders is the most traditional food that has been used to draw birds near for many generations.  The type of seed you offer will depend on which birds are in your area and which you want to encourage to visit your habitat.  Some foods included in the seed category are actually not seeds at all, but grains or legumes.

Seeds are the staple of wild bird feeding.  They are easily collected and can be stored and offered throughout the year in every climate without spoiling.  Because seed is an essential food source for so many birds that will frequent a feeding station, the terms "seed eaters" and "feeder birds" are often used interchangeably.

Seed is a nutrient-rich food source for birds.  Seed foods contain fat and protein to fuel their activity.  The no-mess, hull-less seed choices make your seed offering inviting to even more species including those whose beaks are not built for cracking seeds open.

Wild bird seed is available as either individual seed varieties or as mixes that include two or more seed types and is available from many sources.  But be careful to select the highest quality and avoid those that add fillers to seed mixes.  Avoid red milo and oats both of which are often used as fillers in seed mixes and are generally not well accepted by most birds.  Not only do fillers waste your money, the un-eaten seed that falls to the ground and becomes damp is a nursery for mold and bacteria that can make birds ill.

Here are the most popular wild bird seed varieties:

  1. black-oil sunflower
  2. striped sunflower
  3. sunflower hearts / also called sunflower chips
  4. safflower
  5. thistle / more accurately called nyjer
  6. white proso millet
  7. corn/cracked corn (grain)
  8. whole / shelled peanuts (legumes)
  9. shelled / cracked nuts (acorn, almond, hickory, pecan, walnut)


The most commonly found in seed mixes include:

  • black-oil sunflower (and sunflower hearts)
  • safflower
  • nyjer
  • white proso millet


And of all those above, black-oil sunflower seeds and hull-less sunflower hearts are the feed of choice for almost all feeder birds.  So, if you are just getting started and don't know which feed to choose, begin with black-oil sunflower.

Seed-eaters, however, represent most of the birds that visit feeders.  The most common among these are:








house sparrow









If game birds such as quail or wild turkeys are in your area, you may see them helping themselves to seed that's fallen to the ground.

Many birds are not seed eaters.  Those that prefer or add fruits, nuts, insects, and nectar to their diets can be encouraged with other specialty wild bird feeder and feed varieties.

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