A lot of people enjoy watching birds as they jump, play, and flutter around their yards, but what if you want to tailor the type of birds that visit your lawn? There is a way to do that, and it just takes a little research to learn what bird feeding is really about.
Different birds look for different seed types. While some birds will eat whatever they come by, certain birds are attracted more to certain foods and will be more likely to pay you a visit if you cater to their cuisine choices. General bird food bags contain basic mixes of sunflowers, red millet, oats and fillers that are not that attractive to most birds, but by purchasing specific seeds or creating your own mix from a variety of options, you can easily create a delightful dining experience that is sure to draw in lots of beautiful birds.
Sunflowers come in two types, the sold black ones are called oilers and the white with black stripes are referred to as striped. Oilers have thinner shells and are easier for most birds to open. The nut inside is high in fat which is valuable for winter birds. Striped seeds have thicker shells that are difficult for sparrows and blackbirds to open. If you are looking to rid yourself of sparrows and blackbirds before attracting new birds, toss out striped seeds to drive them away before you put out the oilers.
Safflower has a think shell and is difficult for most birds to open, but is a favorite of cardinals, and grosbeaks, chickadees, and doves will also eat them. Generally, squirrels don’t enjoy safflower, this choice may help keep them out of your feeder, but they have been known to develop a taste for it in some areas.
Nyjer or Thistle is a favorite of small finches like the Indigo Buntings, Pine Siskins and American Goldfinches. While invasive thistle plants became a problem in North America, the seeds are now supplied by a daisy type plant called Guizotio Abyssinica that makes an oil rich seed birds love.
White Millet is a favorite food among ground feeding birds like quails, doves, towhees, and juncos. While it will attract a lovely array of birds, it is also a favorite of blackbirds. If you are already inundated with these birds, you may want to try a different feed.
Peanuts are popular with birds like jays, crows, chickadees, titmice and woodpeckers, but can also attract squirrels, bears and raccoons. Depending on where you live, this may or may not be a wise choice for you. Some people enjoy squirrels, so this may only enhance your nature experience, but if bears and raccoons are prevalent in your area, this might be something you want to avoid.
Milo or Sorghum is popular with Western ground feeding birds like jays, quail, and thrashers. It can be scattered on the ground or placed in feeders.
Rapeseed and Canary Seed can easily be purchased but will often just attract House Sparrows and cowbirds. If you don’t mind their company, this is a great option, but most birds will be equally happy with sunflower seeds.