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Home Best Backyard Bird-Feeding Practices Bird Seed and Other Bird Food
Bird Seed and Other Bird Food

The most important element in attracting birds to your yard is the food that you offer. Traditionally, feeding wild birds has involved providing bird seed in feeders, and now includes supplying alternative foods ranging from suet to insects.

Wild Bird Food Preferences

Different bird species have different food preferences.  To learn more about the bird seed preferences of your favorite species, view the NBFS Wild Bird Food Preferences for your region.

Bird Seed

sunflowerThere are nine types of seed commonly found in bird seed blends: black-oil sunflower, cracked corn, Nyjer® (formerly known as thistle), red milo, safflower, striped sunflower, sunflower hearts (also known as sunflower chips or hulled sunflower), white proso millet, and whole peanuts (peanuts out of the shell and split in half).  Of those seed types, four have been shown to be most attractive to birds: black-oil sunflower, Nyjer®, sunflower hearts, and white proso millet.  Learn more about what bird seeds birds like best.

Meet Your Bird Seed

What bird seed attracts the greatest variety of birds?  What bird seed helps you attract new species of birds to your yard?  Meet your bird seed to find the answers.

Bird Behavior and Bird Seed Preferences

A bird's behavior can tell you its bird food preference.  Learn how to determine the bird seed preferences of the wild birds visiting your yard.

Other Bird Food

hummingbird drinking from feederOther bird food offered at feeders includes suet, nectar, fruit, and insects.  Suet is very attractive to a wide variety of species including woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, Carolina Wren, and Tufted Titmouse.  Suet comes commercially packaged or can be purchased from the butcher.  Commercially packaged suet can be fed year round.  Nectar is offered to hummingbirds and orioles.  Nectar should be provided in a ratio of 4 parts water to 1 part sugar.  Nectar can be made at home, and purchased commercially in powder or liquid form. 

© Roger Mayhorn

Many species of birds are frugivorous.  Providing apples, bananas, oranges and raisins can help attract species such as orioles and mockingbirds.  Insects, particularly mealworms (flour beetle larvae), are readily consumed by a large variety of insectivorous birds such as bluebirds.  By offering these additional wild bird foods, you may increase the variety of birds visiting your backyard, thereby enhancing your experience.


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