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

Getting to know the birds visiting your yard can help you determine what their bird seed preferences are.  Common birds visiting your bird feeders can be grouped into three different categories: "Sit n' Eat", "Grab n' Go", and Floor Feeders.

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"Sit n' Eat" species visit a feeder and stay at the feeder while they feed.  These species include small and large finches, cardinals and grosbeaks.  Sit n' Eat species prefer three major seed types.  Small finches including goldfinches and siskins prefer Nyjer® and sunflower hearts, while the other Sit n' Eat species feed readily on black-oil sunflower.  To attract small and large finches consider offering a tubular feeder filled with a blend of their preferred seed.  For other larger Sit n' Eat species, hopper and platform feeders filled with large proportions of black-oil sunflower would be appropriate.  

tufted titmouse"Grab n' Go" birds take a seed from the bird feeder and eat the seed elsewhere.  Members of this group include chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers.  These species prefer black-oil sunflower, as well as whole peanuts (peanuts out of the shell and split in half).  Grab n' Go birds can be found at any of the three major feeder types.  

Floor Feeders are typically ground-feeding birds that may also eat on an elevated feeder.  Floor Feeders typically prefer white proso millet and include juncos and sparrows, towhees, and doves.  Even though some are small in size and will visit tube feeders, many of these species require larger areas to perch, and thus hopper and platform feeders are most appropriate.  Floor Feeders can also be attracted to your yard by seed on the ground.  

The next time you want to know what seed birds prefer, let the birds tell you.  Observe the behavior of the birds you want to attract, and then provide them with their preferred seeds.


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