Cheapest Place To Buy Bird Food? Online vs Retail! (9 Case Studies)

I have recently been pondering a question every time that I buy food for my bird feeders.

Is it cheaper to buy bird food online or locally from a store?

Personally, I love supporting local businesses with my money. But it’s also incredibly convenient to buy birdseed online from Amazon.

I am in my early thirties, a “millennial” and a little biased toward thinking buying anything online is going to be cheaper than going to a local store. But I always feel a twinge of guilt when ordering things on the Internet because I prefer that my money stays in our community.

It was time to run a series of experiments to find the cheapest place to buy bird food and birdseed.

Here is what I did:

I visited six local stores, which included everything from pet stores to grocery stores to hardware stores, to compare the price in the store vs. the price I could find online.

I had a few guidelines that I followed while conducting this experiment:

1. To make a proper comparison, the brand of the bird food had to be the same. It’s unfair to compare sunflower seed from Company A at a local store vs. sunflower seed from Company B online. The quality of birdseed can differ significantly from company to company, depending on how and where it was harvested.

2. The bag size of the bird food had to be the same. So if I found a 25-pound bag of black oil sunflower from Company A at my local hardware store, then it had to be compared against the same 25-pound bag from Company A online.

3. To compare in-store prices against the prices available online, I tried to use Amazon whenever possible. This is because most people think of Amazon first when trying to find the lowest prices available online. I thought it best to compare local prices against the Internets biggest giant! Also, Amazon typically has free shipping, which I love.

One last thing before we dig into the 9 case studies below:

Prices constantly change! The prices you see below are what they were the day this article was published. I intend to keep this article updated periodically, but reader and buyer beware! I will include links where applicable to check the current online prices.

Are you ready???


Case Study # 1: Black Oil Sunflower Seed

I thought it would be best to start with black oil sunflower seed because it’s the most popular and common bird food offered in feeders.

I found this 10-pound bag of Audubon Park black oil sunflower seed at my local grocery store.

best prices to buy bird food

In case you can’t see the price tag below, purchasing at the grocery store would cost $9.99.

A quick search on Amazon shows that buying the same 10-pound bag cost $20.34.  View Current Price

Wow! I was a bit shocked to see that buying locally from my grocery store (of all places!) was half the cost of purchasing online.

We have a clear winner from the first case study!

Buying Local = 1 , Buying Online = 0


Case Study #2: Sunflower Hearts/Chips

For the second test, we are going to stay at the same grocery store and use the same brand.

But this time let’s take a look at sunflower hearts and chips.

cheapest place to buy bird food

Audubon Park Sunflower Chips (5 lbs)

Grocery Store: $11.99

Amazon: $23.40  Check Current Price

Incredible! That’s a savings of almost 50%. Buying local has jumped out to an early lead.

Buying Local = 2 , Buying Online = 0


Case Study #3: Safflower Seed

This case study will feature safflower purchased from a local pet store, Pet Supplies Plus.

best price bird food

Kaytee Safflower Seed (5lbs)

Pet Store: $8.98

Amazon: $13.50  Check Current Price

Once again, buying local saves a significant amount of money (33%).

Buying Local = 3, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #4: Nyjer Seed

I went to the closest Home Depot to check out their bird food selection. One of the products they carried was a 10-pound bag of Wagner’s nyjer seed. This caught my eye because I know for a fact that I have ordered the 5-pound bag on Amazon before.

cheapest price bird food

Wagner’s Nyjer Seed (10 lbs)

Home Depot: $18.98

Amazon: $21.98  Check Current Price

Buying local wins again and saves about 14%. At least these prices were similar, unlike the first 3 case studies.

Buying Local = 4, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #5: Nyjer Seed Finch Socks

While at Pet Supplies Plus, I noticed they carried these Kaytee Finch Socks. I have ordered this twin pack from Amazon before, so I was excited to compare prices.

where to buy birdseed?

Kaytee Nyjer Seed Finch Sock (Twin Pack)

Pet Store: $7.98

Amazon: $12.03  Check Current Price

This competition is quickly turning into a blowout. (~33% savings buying local)

Buying Local = 5, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #6: Peanuts

To be honest, the inspiration for this post came while shopping at Sam’s Club. I was there on my lunch break purchasing diapers when I came across the below 5-pound bag of peanuts from Hampton Farms.

What blew me away was that a 5-pound bag only cost $5.68. For the past few months, I have been buying this EXACT bag on Amazon to feed the Blue Jay’s in my backyard, and I knew that it has been costing me significantly more!

lowest price for seeds for birds

Hampton Farms Peanuts (5 lb)

Sam’s Club: $5.68

Amazon: $16.98     Check Current Price

What a huge price difference (67%)! Seriously, this enormous discrepancy is what initially got me curious about what was cheaper, buying local or online.

Buying Local = 6, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #7: Mealworms

My backyard birds love when I put mealworms out as a treat and will quickly eat them all!

And since mealworms seem to be the most expensive bird food by weight, I was very interested to find the cheapest place to buy them.

I have been purchasing freeze-dried mealworms on Amazon, assuming this must be the cheapest place to buy. To compare prices, I was able to find the same brand and size that I typically purchase on Amazon at the pet store.

cheapest bird food

Kaytee Mealworms (7-Ounce)

Pet Store: $6.98

Amazon: $9.20   Check Current Price

Buying from a store saves 25% on mealworms.

Buying Local = 7, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #8: General Bird Seed Mix

The last two case studies will feature two general bird seed mixes from different retailers.

This first one is the Kaytee Songbird blend (5 lbs). I found this at another local pet store (Pet’s Mart).

lowest price and cheapest bird seed

Kaytee Songbird Blend (5 lbs)

Pet Store: $9.99

Amazon: $17.60   Check Current Price

Another case study with the same result. Buying locally would save about 43% instead of buying this birdseed blend online.

Buying Local = 8, Buying Online = 0


Case Study #9: General Bird Seed Mix

To finish this experiment, I decided to head to Wild Birds Unlimited. They are a national franchise that specializes in bird feeding products, seeds, and foods.

Below is there popular “No-Mess Plus Blend” that features sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, and a few other foods that don’t have shells.

where should I buy bird food from?

Wild Birds Unlimited No-Mess Plus Blend (20 lbs)

Local WBU Store: $45.99 (it’s only $39.09 if you are part of their discount club)

WBU.com: $48.99 (plus ~$15.00 for shipping!)

Once again, it’s cheaper to buy at the local store instead of ordering online. These results were similar for all the other bird foods that Wild Birds Unlimited offers (sunflower, nyjer, suet, etc.).

Buying Local = 9, Buying Online = 0


Takeaways and Observations:

To be honest, the results of this experiment blew me away!

Out of the 9 case studies that were performed, it was always cheapest to buy bird seed from a local retailer.

Buying from a local store saved an average of over 50%!

I am guilty of having a prejudice that buying online was cheaper than heading to a store. I know this is true of other products, but the trend does not seem to apply to bird seed and food.

Could it be that the weight of bird food prevents cheap shipping? And does that cost have to be passed to the consumer online?

where should I buy bird seed from?

This may be part of the reason for heavier bags of seed. But it just can’t be true for lower weight items such as mealworms or finch socks.

Like many other people, I have become addicted to ordering products on Amazon. The free 2-day shipping offered by their Prime membership is incredibly convenient, especially now that we have two young children and going to the store has become increasingly difficult.

But part of my preference for ordering on Amazon was because of my (false) assumption that it was also CHEAPER. This experiment has me re-thinking about where we are going to shop, not only for bird food but many other products.

It could not have been more clear:

Buying bird food from a local store is significantly cheaper than buying online!


Questions for you:

Here is where I need your help.

The results of my experiment were clear. But I live in Akron, Ohio. I’m sure that prices differ all across the United States and the world.

  • Where is the best and least expensive place to buy bird food where you live?
    • Please make sure to share if you live outside the United States!
  • Is there a cheaper website than Amazon to order bird seed online?

Thanks for reading!

Scott

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89 Comments

  1. Native American Premium Wild Bird Food 50# $16.99 @ Costco (Las Vegas, NV). We feed a lot of birds and easily go through at least 50# a month. Our reward is a euphony of peaceful birdsong in our backyard making it our oasis in the middle of the desert.

  2. Yes; it is cheaper in the local stores than on Amazon on Long Island, NY. Unfortunately I too have opted for Amazon too many times for birdseed because of time restraints and lack of energy. Thank you for posting what I too was noticing. Your insights above, throughout, were informative, and for that, thank you as well.

  3. I’m gonna check out bird seed in my area. Yikes that’s a lot of savings!! Thanks for taking the time to check it all out. 👍😊

  4. Thank you for this article and this thread. I’m also struggling to keep our feeders full without breaking the bank. Would love to see further price comparison of truly locally-owned stores versus other publicly owned conglomerates. For example, Home Depot, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and the like are in a similar category as Amazon in my mind – the money doesn’t fully go back into our towns. Even if it’s comparing different brands of the same product. Is it a better deal to get it at Wild Birds Unlimited or Ace Hardware? Those kind of stores.

  5. Honestly, the prices are getting to be unsustainable. I could easily spend $150/month just feeding birds. Suet, black oil, and Nyjer. I hate the blends. The birds just dig through it. The squirrels are absolute pigs, as are the starlings. Safflower seems to keep most birds happy. Overall, I have found Rural King beats the pants off anyone for price. Often, their price is 25% or more less than anyone for comparable feed. I miss the good old country feed stores 🙁

  6. Yes, I agree that Tractor Supply is the cheapest for Sunflower hearts but the price for 35 pounds is now Aug. 21, $64.99, still cheaper but it has gone up. Our local Agway seems to be cheaper for the Nyger seed as of Aug 1 got 10 pounds for $17.49.

  7. I agree, except here in New England, TSC is is one half of one cent cheaper per pound AFTER considering their rewards program. The extra 10 cents/20 pound bag is a privilege to pay when buying from Walmart because the delivery is free when buying 100 lbs (meaning that I don’t have to haul the bird seed from the shelf to the car to the house). Here’s the link, and the quality is just as good as brand name IMO.
    https://www.walmart.com/ip/seort/43200094

  8. I have found the best price for sunflower hearts is at the Tractor Supply Company. As of April 2022 the price is $54.99 for a 35 LB bag. The best price I have found for whole unsalted peanuts is at my local supermarket. I buy 5 LB bags for $6.49.

  9. Thank you so much for the input! I’m going through this same evaluation here in Florida, also saw this at Tractor Supply, & was wondering about its quality, etc.

  10. Tractor Supply also offers 50lb bags of Royal Wing Classic Mix Bird Seed for $21.99 as of 3/20/22. I’ve been using this with added sunflower chips and peanut chips for the last four years and the local birds, in Fort Worth TX, love it. In my opinion, this mix has much less fillers (that the birds won’t eat) than many of the major brands. I say this because I’ve tried most of the major brands, and most of the time ended up wasting my money because the locals birds rarely will eat them and I end up having to dump my feeders.

  11. Tractor Supply. You can get a 40-50 lb bag of crack corn for like $11. I have a feeder for that only which the sparrows love. Then I put the more expensive blend in another feeder for other bird types. Tractor Supply is good for both.

  12. Mealworms good deals online @ Chubby’s. Become a member and you earn points and save money. Use them for my bluebirds

  13. Jim,
    I apologize in advance. The internet hates me because I hate it. This is my second attempt to reply to your post. I believe that my first reply may be somewhere in the twilight zone.
    First of all, congratulations on your internet research skills. You posted that you have found prices much cheaper than Amazon. I truly do appreciate your hard work in accomplishing this. Would you please specifically share some of the sites which you found? Thank you very much.

  14. Congratulations on your internet research skills. Would you please specifically name some of these places? I truly appreciate the fact that you found them. Now, would you please share the fruits of your labor. Thank you very much.

  15. Probably because a store chain buys significantly more that any one person can/will probably buy. That means they’re paying a much lower price for it than we’re going to find. Also, there are reasons that some vendors only sell to wholesalers. Tax implications, I think.

  16. I purchase from tractor supply, Walmart, occasionally Ollie’s, Big lots, or the Army commissary. The cost of using time and gas doesn’t justify shopping around, if I see a deal I grab it.

  17. no sure if you have any , [[[[ grocery stores called price rite ]]] if so they have only 1 bird seed and it’s a mix of a little bit of everything it sells for 5.50 for 18 pounds. been buying it for 2 years .

  18. Costco used to sell the Wagner’s up until last fall. Then they started selling this North American seed that is nothing but filler seed as you say. They won’t listen to reason either. Apparently, Walmart must be onto it too because they jumped their price by almost $5 bucks for the 40 lb size, probably due to the increased demand from people who used to buy at Costco now getting it at Walmart. Far as I’m concerned, the decision by Costco to sell this North American was very poor. I would gladly have paid more for the Wagner because it’s premium. This North American is garbage.

  19. Just a few months ago the same bag of Pennington was selling for $15.87 at Walmart. Then it went up by almost 20%.

  20. Costco in St. George, Utah, used to sell Wagner’s Premium Bird Seed 40lbs in an orange bag. They pulled it and are now selling this North American. How exactly is it good feed? I see no millet on the ingredients list and it’s got much lower percentage of sunflower seed. What kind of birds are you attracting with it?

  21. I purchase birdseed on Walmart.com, Pennington Classic Wild Bird Feed and Seed, 40 lb. Bag $19.97
    Free shipping when I add it to any order totaling $35 or more.

  22. I bought black oiled sunflower seeds at Ocean State Job Lot for $6.50, the least expensive in NWNJ. Tractor Supply has suet cakes for .99.

  23. I buy mine from my local Grocery store and it is delivered with m groceries at no extra charge from my Intstacart account..