Bird Seed 101: The 10 Best Types For Wild Birds

Not all types of bird food is created equal.

When you go to the store and see all the different bags of food, it’s easy to become a bit overwhelmed and wonder what are the best seeds and mixes to offer your backyard birds.

Whether you just started feeding birds or you’re frustrated at the amount of food wasted at your feeders, I think this article will help.

By reading today, you can expect to learn the following things:

  • Nutritional content for each recommended food and what birds it will attract.

I get asked periodically about which combinations of foods I use at my bird feeding station.

Unfortunately, I can’t give a consistent answer! It depends on the season, which birds I have been observing lately, and my own experimentation. The best advice that I can give you is to keep rotating different foods and bird seed into your various feeders and then sit back and take notes of what is working best.

Check out my LIVE bird feeder cam below to see my current set up!

YouTube video

10 Best Types of Birdseed and Food:


#1. Sunflower

If you could only offer one type of food at your feeders, then you would want to pick sunflower seed! Not only do dozens of bird species love eating sunflower, but it’s also easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Believe it or not, there are three varieties of sunflower seeds available for feeding birds, and each type has different advantages and uses.

A. Black-oil Sunflower

types of bird seed - black-oil sunflower

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Oil sunflower is the most popular type of seed in the shell and is devoured by almost all birds. I find it interesting that this variety of sunflower is not the kind that humans consume. It was developed to harvest for its oil content, but then it was discovered how much birds love the stuff!

Black-oil sunflower has a higher oil content and is less expensive when compared to striped sunflower below (B). Black-oil shells are also thinner and smaller, so they are easier to crack open and make less of a mess than striped sunflower.

*Nutrition Information: 40% fat, 16% protein, 20% carbohydrates

Birds that are attracted to black-oil sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, titmice, chickadees, grosbeaks, finches, nutcrackers, juncos, House Sparrows, blackbirds, doves, & grackles. It would have been easier to make a list of birds that DON’T like black-oil sunflower seeds because there are not many.

B. Striped Sunflower

birdseed types - striped sunflower

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Striped sunflower is larger than black-oil and is the same type of sunflower seed that humans consume, which makes this seed more expensive in comparison.

When it comes to your backyard birds, striped sunflower is not going to be as popular as black-oil sunflower. One reason for this is striped sunflower has a thicker and stronger shell than black-oil, which makes it tougher to crack open to get to the seed. Because of this fact, I like to use striped sunflower seeds in my backyard when I am trying to discriminate against certain birds.

For example, House Sparrows can be incredibly numerous at bird feeders, but they are unable to open striped sunflower seeds! If you dedicate a feeder to striped sunflower, then the cardinals, titmice, nuthatches, and other birds that can open the hard shell have a more peaceful place to eat. It’s also great to add to a general bird seed mix.

*Nutritional Info: 26% fat, 15% protein, 18% carbohydrates

Birds that are attracted to striped sunflower seeds: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, grackles, nutcrackers.

C. Hulled Sunflower

Hulled sunflower seed - best birdseed types

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Hulled sunflower refers to sunflower seed that has already had the shell removed. Other common names include sunflower chips or kernels.

Since they are easier to eat than seeds still in their shells, hulled sunflower is insanely popular at feeders! Seriously, almost every type of bird that isn’t a bird of prey will eat it. My feeders that contain hulled sunflower seeds have to be refilled just about every single day.

Because the shell has already been removed, hulled sunflower is more expensive by weight than sunflower still in the husk. But you have to take into account that when you buy black-oil or striped sunflower, the shells won’t be eaten, so you are paying for this waste.

Hulled sunflower also is popular because it doesn’t make a mess. There are no shells left to clean up!

Birds that hulled sunflower attracts: Cardinals, jays, grosbreaks, some wrens, goldfinches, finches, chickadees, titmice, nuthatches, juncos, sparrows, towhees, blackbirds, doves, and grackles, among others.


#2. Safflower

safflower - best bird food

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Safflower seeds are a bit smaller than black-oil sunflower seeds and have a tough shell for such a little seed. Many people call safflower a “miracle seed” because some of the most annoying pests at your feeders don’t particularly enjoy it.

For example, squirrels and blackbirds are probably the biggest problems that most people encounter feeding birds. Would you believe me if I told you that squirrels and blackbirds (including grackles and starlings) RARELY eat safflower seed?

The good news is that most other backyard birds have no issue eating safflower, including cardinals, chickadees, and finches. I know it sounds too good to be true! Try it and let me know your results. Safflower can also be a great seed to use in your feeders that are not squirrel proof.

*Nutrition content: 38% fat, 16% protein, 34% carbohydrates

Birds that safflower attracts: Cardinals, grosbeaks, finches (House and Purple), titmice, chickadees, nuthatches, and doves.


#3. Nyjer (thistle)

different types of bird seed guide

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Goldfinches are one of my favorite birds to observe and attract. I enjoy watching their roller coaster flights across the yard and the way they can cling to feeders in any orientation, even upside down! Because of their tiny beaks, goldfinches can only eat the smallest of seeds, which makes feeding nyjer to goldfinches a perfect fit!

Nyjer seed, also commonly called “thistle,” is a tiny, black seed that grows in Ethiopia or India. Nyjer seed is not actually related to thistle, so you don’t have to worry about it developing into an annoying weed. Before it’s sold, nyjer seed is sterilized by heat so it can’t germinate and grow.

Out of all the types of birdseed, nyjer is one of the most vulnerable to spoiling. If the seed is not fresh, it’s common for birds to ignore it entirely.

To feed nyjer, you are going to want to purchase a feeder that specializes in distributing this tiny seed. For more information on nyjer feeders, check out the article below.

*Nutrition Info: 36% fat, 21% protein, 13% carbohydrates

Birds that nyjer seed attracts: Goldfinches, Purple Finch, House Finch, Pine Siskin, chickadees, and doves.


#4. Peanuts

Peanuts are a great food to provide at your feeding station. Not only do birds love eating them, but they are healthy and provide a significant amount of fat and protein, both of which are important to birds, especially during cold winter months. Make sure to buy roasted, unsalted peanuts, if possible!

*Nutrition Info: 49% fat, 26% protein, 19% carbohydrates

You can offer peanuts two different ways, either in the shell or already out. The main difference is which birds you want to feed because most birds can’t crack open a hard peanut shell!

A. Peanuts in the shell:

whole peanuts in shell for bird food

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Only a few types of birds can eat peanuts that are still in the shell. This list includes larger birds such as crows, jays, grackles, magpies, and certain woodpeckers. Titmice and chickadees also enjoy peanuts and will work very hard to get that shell cracked open!

When I use peanuts in the shell in my backyard, I typically use one of two feeders, either my tray feeder or peanut wreath.

Most of the time I throw a scoop of peanuts onto my tray feeder located on the ground. Usually within an hour after setting out peanuts, my local murder of crows arrives trying to fit as many peanuts as possible into their mouths to fly off somewhere else to feast.

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If I don’t want to feed crows and want to focus on Blue Jays, then I use my peanut wreath feeder and hang it from my bird pole.

B. Shelled peanuts:

peanut food for birds

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As you can see below, the list of birds that will eat shelled peanuts is much, much longer than those that can crack open and eat peanuts in the shell.

Birds that shelled peanuts attract: Cardinals, jays, nutcrackers, nuthatches, grosbreaks, chickadees, titmice, bushtits, starlings, cowbirds, crows, magpies, ravens, and grackles.

Shelled peanuts are used in lots of different types of feeders. They also are commonly diced up and added to general bird seed mixes or suet. I fill a metal mesh feeder with peanuts that only woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, and other birds that can cling can access.

One word of warning; I have found that if shelled peanuts get wet or are not eaten within a few days, they are more susceptible to rotting and molding. At this point, the food needs to be thrown away and the feeder needs to be cleaned before using again.


#5. White Proso Millet

white proso millet birdseed

Millet is a favorite food among ground-feeding birds. It is generally not sold individually but is included in many types of birdseed mixes.

There are a few different types of millet, but the best one is white proso millet, which is a small round seed.

Birds that white proso millet attracts: Juncos, sparrows, towhees, blackbirds, grackles, and doves.

It’s best to offer blends that include white millet in tray or hopper feeders because these feeders allow birds that don’t eat millet to kick it to the ground. If you put millet into a tube feeder, it’s a lot harder for birds that don’t like millet to kick it out, and you will probably end up with a bunch of millet at the bottom of the tube feeder.

*Nutrition Info: 4% fat, 11% protein, 73% carbohydrates

A word of warning: Many birdseed mixes also contain red proso millet, which is red and a bit smaller than white millet. Ground-feeding birds will eat red millet, but it’s not their favorite. If possible, I would try to avoid buying a mix that includes red millet.


#6. Mealworms

mealworms for bluebirds

Because of their high fat and protein content, offering mealworms at your feeding station is a healthy treat for many backyard birds.

Mealworms can be purchased in two different ways:

Live:

Using living mealworms is not as gross as it may sound. They are not slimy or kept in the dirt. When you purchase mealworms that are alive, they typically come in a small, plastic container and are kept in your refrigerator, where they go dormant and can survive for a few months!

*Nutrition Info: 22% fat, 18% protein, 2.5% carbohydrates  View $ on Amazon

Dried:

Buying dried mealworms is less hassle than keeping live mealworms in your fridge! For example, you can buy 5 pounds of them on Amazon for a relatively low cost.

*Nutrition Info: 32% fat, 49% protein, 6.9% carbs  View $ on Amazon

Birds prefer eating live mealworms and may even reject dried mealworms at first. If this happens, you may need to combine both types to train your birds. Personally, it’s much more convenient to keep a big pouch of dried mealworms in my shed than to have living ones in my refrigerator!

Birds that are attracted to mealworms: Bluebirds, chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, wrens, and starlings.

Using mealworms is a popular way to attract bluebirds to your yard since these thrushes primarily eat insects.


#7. Corn

Nutrition Information: 5% fat, 9% protein, 74% carbohydrates

When you purchase corn at the store, you will see it offered in the following two different ways:

A. Whole Kernel Corn:

best bird food types

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Whole kernel corn is inexpensive to purchase when compared to other types of birdseed and food. At my local home improvement store, I can buy 50 pounds for around $10!

But not that many birds can eat a whole kernel of corn. It’s going to be limited to larger birds, such as jays, crows, ravens, grackles, and ducks.

I also enjoy feeding the mammals that visit my feeding station, such as squirrels, raccoons, opossums, skunks, and rabbits. Whole corn is the food that I commonly use on my ground tray to attract these interesting animals.

Here is a recent video of a skunk and raccoon eating together under my feeders!

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*Watch My Live Animals Cam HERE*

B. Cracked Corn:

cracked corn - types of birdseed

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Cracked corn is merely whole-kernel corn that has been chopped up. It is used commonly in birdseed mixes because of its inexpensive price. Many birds are unable to eat whole-kernel corn because it’s too big, but lots of birds like eating cracked corn.

I don’t regularly use cracked corn at my main bird feeding station because I have found that cracked corn is extremely popular among House Sparrows! They absolutely can’t get enough of the stuff, and in general, I try to deter these invasive birds as much as possible from visiting. When I do purchase cracked corn, it’s usually to fill a separate bird feeder away from my primary feeders to draw House Sparrows away.

Birds that are attracted to cracked corn: Jays, juncos, sparrows, towhees, starlings, cowbirds, magpies, ravens, crows, doves, grackles, blackbirds, and quail.


#8. Suet

suet cakes

Pure suet is the hard fat around the kidneys and loins of beef and sheep. It provides an outstanding energy source for wild birds and provides necessary fats, which are especially important in winter.

It’s possible to go to your butcher and ask for pure, raw suet. But as you can imagine, most of us don’t want to do that. Luckily, manufacturers of bird food have made it extremely convenient to feed suet in our backyards. Prepackaged suet blends are extremely popular and are found at a variety of stores and online.

Most suet blends available don’t include just suet, but some variety of nuts, seeds, corn, grains, or fruit. The type of suet blend you select may depend on what birds you are trying to attract.

A wide variety of birds feed on suet, but the most common birds attracted are woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees. Unfortunately, European Starlings also love suet and will gorge themselves until it’s all gone!

You can buy bird suet in 4 common styles:

suet cake

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  • Cakes: The most popular variety. The size of 4.5″ x 4.5″ x 1.5″ fits standard suet feeders. I mostly use the above product since it has a high protein content, which attracts more woodpeckers.
  • Balls: Roughly the size of golf balls that fit in many types of mesh feeders.
  • Nuggets: Typically slightly smaller than marbles. Nuggets also can be put in mesh feeders or on tray feeders.
  • Plugs: Resemble a small log. These fit into suet feeders that are specially made to fit suet plugs. Suet plug feeders are typically vertical and resemble the side of a tree.

#9. Sugar Water (Nectar)

hummingbird and oriole nectar

Setting out a homemade solution of sugar water mimics nectar that birds find in flowers. Luckily, making a nectar solution is easy; just mix 4 parts water with 1 part table sugar.

And why should you dedicate a spot in your backyard for a nectar feeder? The answer is easy; to attract two of the brightest and most colorful birds around!

Hummingbirds and orioles!

Both of these birds commonly visit nectar feeders to feed upon sugar solutions. Nectar complements their natural diet nicely and provides them with energy for their active lifestyles.

And in my opinion, few birds are as exciting to see in your backyard as a tiny hummingbird zooming around or watching a bright orange oriole fly down from the trees.

*Nutrition Info: 0% fat, 0% protein, 20% carbohydrates

  • Hummingbirds and orioles get additional nutrition from other food sources, such as flies, gnats, spiders, aphids, caterpillars, and fruit. Nectar is simply an energy source, so please don’t worry about the lack of nutrients in nectar.

#10. Fruit

types of fruit for birds

Offering fruit at your feeders provides a healthy snack for many birds and is a great way to attract species that don’t regularly visit your backyard.

You can use fresh fruit, dried fruit, or jelly.

Fresh Fruit:

You can try anything laying around your house — bananas, grapes, apples, berries, etc. Oranges work great at attracting orioles! My recommendation is to slice the fruit up in small chunks and set out on a tray feeder in small quantities. During summer, fruit can spoil quickly and attracts yellowjackets and bees! It’s best to use when it’s cooler outside.

Dried Fruit:

Using dried fruit is easier to offer because it’s more convenient to store. Raisins, cranberries, and currants are popular options. Robins, waxwings, bluebirds, and mockingbirds should find your dried fruit attractive!

Jelly:

If you want to attract orioles, then putting out jelly should help. I’d use a small snack feeder and only use a little bit at a time until you know the jelly is being eaten.

The jelly at your grocery store works fine. But did you know there is a jelly made specifically for birds? It’s called BirdBerry Jelly and contains real sugar and fruit juice instead of high-fructose corn syrup.


The types of birdseed you should avoid!

Unfortunately, at almost every large home improvement store, pet store, hardware store, or other places that sell birdseed, you are going to run into a common problem.

Cheap bird seed mixes contain fillers that wild birds won’t eat!

Yes, it’s a sad fact that so much food is wasted, but the way for manufacturers to get the price down of a wild bird seed mix is to include lots of cheap ingredients without regard to whether the seed actually attracts birds.

Here are the most common seeds added to mixes that you should avoid!

Maybe if everyone stopped buying bird food that contained these poor ingredients, then they would disappear from the shelves, and we would be left with only quality products.

Milo:

worst birdseed for mixes

Milo, also called sorghum, is probably the most common filler ingredient you will find in birdseed mixes. It’s cheap and does a great job of filling up the bag.

The problem is that most birds never or rarely eat milo! Wild birds will just kick it off the feeder to the ground, where it will sit until it rots and decomposes. Only a few ground-feeding birds, like turkeys, quail, pheasants, and doves eat milo along with pest birds like European Starlings and House Sparrows.

Don’t get white millet and milo confused, which I used to do commonly. They are entirely different seeds. White millet is good, milo is bad!

Oats:

Only a few birds, like starlings and grackles, will eat the oats in a birdseed mix.

Canary seed:

Doesn’t the name tell you everything you need to know? Canary seed is not a great food to use at your feeders; it’s best for pet birds! Only a few types of ground-feeding birds will consume it, along with House Sparrows.

Other fillers you may run across and should be avoided:

Rice, flax, golden millet, red millet, buckwheat, wheat, and rapeseed.


Conclusion and Final Thoughts

Choosing the types of birdseed for your bird feeding station is an important decision.

You have to balance which types of birds you want to attract with how much money you want to spend. There are no perfect answers or one best combination of bird food to use. It comes down to your personal preferences.

I hope reading through the TEN different types of bird food helped to understand the benefits each one can provide in your backyard. Helping to meet the nutritional needs of birds is not only beneficial to birds but also very rewarding for us to watch them visit all year long!

What are the three types of birdseed that attract the most birds to your backyard?

~Scott

*Nutrition information from each food source was obtained from the book “The Joy of Bird Feeding,” which was written by Jim Carpenter. I highly recommend the book as a resource for anyone who enjoys watching birds in their backyard.*

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55 Comments

  1. My local nursery uses a blend of crushed Safflower, shelled and crushed black-oil sunflower and crushed peanuts. I add Nyjer to it and mix it all together and I have to fill my feeders daily. I will go through 60+ pounds in 2 weeks.
    I also make my own suet. I get beef fat (not pork fat), melt it down slowly in the oven, pour it in a container, leave it on the kitchen counter to harden slightly, then mix in some of the blend above, plus chopped up raisens and chopped cranberries.
    Once I have mixed that all up, I put it in molds store bought suet cakes comes in, then freeze it to harden. I keep it in the freezer, until I take it out to put in the suet holders and the birds love it.
    Unfortunately so to squirrels, so I hang the holders where it is difficult for the squirrels to get to, I hang the holders on long study wires, that squirrels find difficult to hold on to. Vasolene works good on the wires as well, to deter squirrels and other unwanted critters.
    Putting Vasolene on feeder poles works well against squirrels to. It’s comical watching them jump up on the poles, only to slide down. I have to do it about once a week in general.
    Also, keep feeders about 15 feet away from trees, bushes, shrubs, buildings, fences, etc., where they can easily jump to feeders. I also try to keep feeders at least five feet above the ground.
    With the fat that doesn’t melt down completely, I take it out of the oven, let it cool and place it outside for the crows, which love it.
    We live in the Seattle Metro area and generally the ground doesn’t freeze, if it does, I hand grapes out for the robins, varried thrush and other birds. I will half apples and oranges, to put out for them. We also grow shurbs and bushes with late fall or wintering ripening berries, Not only for the birds, but for the pretty flowers (we are gardeners). I also have three hollies and robins love holly berries. We used to have a couple large mountain ashe, and robins love these berries as well. However, we found we had baby mountain ashe coming up all over, from berries robins knocked to the ground and seeds from their droppings, that would germinate, so we cut them down.
    If you have a large wooded property, you might try growing mountain ashe on the margins of the wooded areas. The trees are attractive, with white clumps of flowers, which turn into white bunches of berries, that quickly turn bright orange as they ripen. Migratory robins love them in the fall as do robins that may stay all winter, as they do here in the Seattle metro area. The leaves also turn yellow, orange and red in the fall and are attractive.

    1. Don’t worry about the Vasolene staying on the squirrel’s feet, it wears off and I don’t see any of the squirrel’s fur matted with it. As a matter of fact, squirrels seem to realize those poles have been ‘greased’ up, so they can’t climb them and now, even when the Vasolene wears off the poles, they still don’t attempt to climb them. Apparently they now have been “programmed” not to climb the poles.
      I do keep a feeder just for the squirrels and hang in from one of our lilacs.
      Our biggest pests are starlings, that seem to eat anything I put out and they take over feeders.
      I have had chickadees and pine siskins perch on my shoulders and head and they will eat out of my hands, as long as I move slowly. Sudden movements will make them scatter. I have a friend who has squirrels and stellers jays, eat out of his hands.

  2. I have a pigeon problem in my backyard. lol. And a red tailed hawk problem. The hawk keeps busy every day catching a pigeon, and a dove, each and every day.. Cannot stop the pigeons from showing up. I have several bird feeders hanging from a tree, and the pigeons gather below because some of the overflow falls to the ground. One incident I got on video of a large red tailed hawk standing 10 feet from me with a pigeon in its talons. I video on my phone for 30 seconds, and finally the hawk flew away. But this is a daily occurrence, and am not sure what to do about it lol

  3. I live in Texas and it’s been 100+ degrees everyday for the past 2 months. But my birds are thriving. I have 4 humming bird feeders that I still fill everyday (the honey bees like the feeders too). I purchased a seed feeder stand from Wild Birds Unlimited a few months ago. It’s T shaped with two 6-portal feeders hanging from it. The stand has a heavy round base with a baffle on the pole to keep off squirrels. I also placed it away from a tree but close enough for the birds. So I finally beat the crazy squirrels! They only get what’s on the ground. However, I do put out an ear of corn on a special post for them a couple times a week. I also have water containers hanging from trees. Have a bird bath but the deer drink it even though I have a huge tub for them. Because of your newsletters I’ve learned as to what feed I put in my seed feeders..Thank you.

  4. I live in Colchester, CT. I’ve been putting out hummingbird feeders and feeders and water for any other bird that wants to eat for a while now. About 2 weeks ago (middle of August), it seems as if all the birds have disappeared. I hear none chirping in the wooded area behind my house, haven’t seen any flying around, and none have been visiting my feeders. Where/why have they all gone?

  5. Thanks. I wonder about cracked corn. I know that cracked corn is a good alternative to birdseed when looking for an affordable option for bird treats. But what birds eat cracked corn?

    1. He talks about cracked corn above. Birds that are attracted to cracked corn: Jays, juncos, sparrows, towhees, starlings, cowbirds, magpies, ravens, crows, doves, grackles, blackbirds, and quail.
      I don’t feed cracked corn or any corn because pesky Starlings love it and pesky House Sparrows too. Avoid it if possible.

  6. I just started watching birds and using a bird feeder. I’m about 6 weeks into it now and found out just a couple of days ago that squirrels are not my biggest problem — starlings are!!! I was really enjoying watching all the finches, goldfinches, cardinals, sparrows, and woodpeckers when out of nowhere these bigger black birds descended. They scared off the little birds and quickly devoured the stuff they liked in the feeder. The rest they threw on the ground, making a huge mess. I naively refilled the feeder and only ONE HOUR later, it was completely empty again because of starlings. Before they came, I could easily go a week to 10 days without having to refill the feeder. Now I’ve had to research what foods starlings DON’T like so I can restore the peace and let the finches and cardinals eat again.

  7. Yeah, squirrels will still eat safflower. We got a second feeder with sunflower/cracked corn to lure the squirrels from the safflower. They visit that one first, so our cardinals and titmice can still get their fill.

  8. I bought a birdfeeder a little over a week ago so I’m new to all of this. I bought safflower seed because some neighbors on Facebook told me squirrels don’t like it and you say that here, too. Unfortunately, that appears to be a complete myth. Squirrels like it just fine! One hour after a house finch and cardinal found my bird feeder for the first time, so did some squirrels. Now squirrels visit multiple times a day to eat the safflower seed and I have had to buy a squirrel baffle. Squirrels hate safflower seed, huh? URBAN LEGEND. They love the stuff.

  9. Ann – take a cotton ball with white vinegar and wipe it on the bottom of your hummingbird feeders.(every time you fill) Bees don’t like the smell…and hummingbirds are not deterred. This worked for me.

  10. This was very interesting. I have 2 feeders (6 perches each and a tray hanging under them). I have cardinals, titmouse, lesser finches, a couple varieties of sparrows, lots of dove (which I would like to get rid of), once in awhile a wood pecker, and now that it’s starting to get warmer will put out my humming bird feeders (any suggestions on how to keep the bees from invading them)? I feed our 2 pesky squirrels ears of corn, but those rascals are always trying to get to the bird feeders. It was really interesting about the types of bird seed. I believe the mixture I give my birds has most of the good ingredients. And I have about 6-8 deer who eat all the seed under the feeders that the birds kick out. Thanks for the info.

  11. Hi there Scott, Could you please post pictures of your feeder setup? What kind of feeders do you use, Where do you place them, and things like that. I am trying to be more “professional” in my feeders instead of just throwing bird feed into them. I know there are probably others out there who would like to know as well. Your emails are a great source of information. Keep up the great work, I really enjoy your insights into everything bird.

  12. Would you post a picture of your bluebird house please. I had sparrows to destroy my bluebirds year before last and then last year they totally took over the bluebird house. I put a plug in the hole to keep the sparrows out but don’t know what to do to get the bluebirds safely in.
    Any tips you can give me would be much appreciated.

    1. Hi Vera, sparrows are hard to stop from taking over bird houses from bluebirds. This is great question, we have a Facebook group that helps with questions like this. Here is the link to join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/3266562110284604/ I have tried in the past to kick out sparrows from the bird house but they just keep coming back too. I heard that sparrows prefer their nests at least 5 feet off the ground, so if you would place your bird house like 4 feet from the ground the bluebird would choose it over the sparrow. Just a thought.

  13. In NE Ohio last summer, along with fruit (oranges and grapes) and jelly, mealworms were devoured by the pair of Orioles that nested in the national park across the street. What a delight to have these and the occasional blue birds come to the house in the summer!

  14. Hi David, I live in Michigan and have noticed the same thing. I belong to Project Feederwatch through Cornell University and looked back on my previous counts and was shocked at how many birds are no longer at my feeders, The biggest change has been the American Goldfinches. Two years ago, I had 30 Goldfinches at my feeders this time of year. This count with all the snow we recently received, my count was 6. It is scary.

    1. Claudia, Two years ago there was a finch “irruption” where huge numbers of finches came down to the States from the Boreal to find food that was scarce up north. This winter the forests up north are providing enough food so we don’t see as many birds from the finch family now. We had 120 pine siskins converge on our feeder during the irruption year. Usually we rarely see them in our area (southwest Ohio).

  15. I just wanted to say how much I appreciate your information! I always look forwards to your emails.
    Could anyone you please give me some insight into where all the birds at my feeder have gone ? I’m not seeing birds like I used to for about three months now ! I live in central Pennsylvania …
    Thank you,