Bird Buffet

May 26, 2023

Knowing what type of seed different birds prefer can help you attract specific species to your backyard, whether it be blue jays, cardinals, chickadees, or hummingbirds. While some birds may eagerly gobble up anything you set out, others have pickier palates and may not come around unless your selection is just right. Offer them their desired buffet, though, and they’ll be flocking to your backyard all summer long!
Keep reading for a list of common bird feed and the types of birds most often attracted to each:
Sunflower seeds
         There are two types of sunflower seed — black oil and striped. While black oil seeds have very thin shells that are easy for virtually any bird to crack open, striped sunflower seeds have a thicker shell that can be hard for house sparrows and blackbirds to crack. Sunflower seeds are favored by most birds, including cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, chickadees, crows, and finches. However, they are also a favorite among squirrels, which could be a problem for those not wanting to waste seed on unwanted visitors.
         Because of the thick shells on safflower seed, they can be hard for some birds to crack open. They are a great source of protein and fiber, though, and cardinals and grosbeaks especially love them. Blackbirds, grackles, and squirrels are not a fan of this type of seed and will typically stay away.
         Suet cakes are full of protein, fat, and calories and are made from raw animal fats mixed with seeds, oats, mealworms, and fruit. Because of its high fat content, it is a popular choice to feed in the winter when birds need extra calories. This type of seed is particularly appealing to insect-eating birds like wrens, nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, and starlings.
         Corn should be offered in small amounts as it lacks essential oils found in other seed. It’s eaten by a large range of birds, including grouse, pheasants, turkeys, quail, cardinals, grosbeaks, crows, blue jays, doves, and ducks. Unfortunately, it is the type of bird feed most likely to be contaminated with aflatoxins, which are extremely toxic even at low levels, so the corn should be replaced often and never allowed to get wet. It is also a favorite of raccoons and deer, so you may have to get creative in keeping these critters away.
         Milo, also known as sorghum, is often used as filler in wild bird seed or other DIY birdseed mix. It should not be used to fill an entire birdfeeder. Milo attracts ground-feeding birds such as doves, quails, and pheasants, and should therefore be scattered on the ground or offered in low tray feeders.
         The mixture of water and cane sugar in nectar is an important source of energy for birds. Hummingbirds are not the only species attracted to this sweet treat, though. Orioles and certain species of woodpeckers, mockingbirds, and warblers also consume nectar. These birds do not feed on nectar exclusively, but rather combine it with insects for a mixed diet.
Your local Co-op carries a variety of bird seed and feeders for the specific species you are hoping to attract. Find the nearest location here.
For more content like this, check out the latest issue of The Cooperator.

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