What is No-Mess Bird Seed? (+10 SHELL-FREE foods to try)

Today, you are going to learn about NO MESS BIRD SEED!

no mess bird seed blends

Because let’s be honest, feeding birds can become INCREDIBLY MESSY!

Seriously, if you’re not careful, all of the discarded shells and seed husks can make the area underneath your bird feeders look like a garbage dump.

If you don’t believe me, check out the below video I made a few years ago. If you press PLAY, you can see me cleaning up a GIANT mess of seed waste. It’s so big, I needed a rake, shovel, and wheelbarrow to deal with it.

And these giant piles of seed waste aren’t good for anybody:

  • First, they are a breeding ground for bacteria and can promote diseases among your backyard birds.
  • Second, it’s just disgusting. These decomposing piles of seed waste look bad, smell bad, and cause you extra work when you have to clean it up!

Luckily, there is an EASY solution that requires no extra work on your part and keeps your bird feeding station MUCH CLEANER.

Let me introduce you to NO MESS Bird Seed:

no mess bird seed

Put simply; No Mess bird seed is food that already has its shell or husk removed. Or it’s bird food that doesn’t have a shell in the first place (like corn).

Just imagine what would happen if every seed you fed to your birds DIDN’T have a shell. The birds would show up, consume the food, and not leave any mess behind. Doesn’t that sound fantastic?

I switched to no-mess bird foods a few years ago and have never looked back. I still have to tidy up my feeding area occasionally, but it’s nothing like the giant mounds of sunflower shells that I had to deal with before.

Next, let’s go over 10 types of bird foods that are considered “no mess.”


#1. SHELLED Sunflower Seeds:

Hulled sunflower seed - best birdseed types

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

Sunflower husks are typically to blame when it comes to a mess underneath your bird feeders. Most birds, such as Northern Cardinals and House Finches, crack open each seed to get to the kernel inside. The large shell is then discarded to the ground below.

Buying sunflower seeds that already have their shell removed will immediately keep your feeding area MUCH CLEANER.

And in my opinion, shelled sunflower seeds are the BEST food to use because they attract the widest variety of species. Also, some birds cannot crack open sunflower seeds that still have a shell, so they will appreciate the hard work that has been done for them!


#2. SHELLED peanuts:

peanut food for birds

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

Shelled 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.


#3. Corn:

corn as a no mess bird food

View $ on Amazon

Luckily, corn doesn’t have any shell or husk, so using it helps keep your feeding area clean. And another great feature of corn is that it’s inexpensive to purchase compared to other types of bird seed and food. For example, at my local home improvement store, I can buy a large bag for around $10!

But, you have to be careful feeding corn. I have found that many birds eat it, but it’s not as popular as sunflower seeds or peanuts. In addition, it starts to rot and go bad faster than other seeds.

So if you put out too much, especially on the ground, it may sit uneaten for too long and start to decompose. And if that happens, you just created a big mess that you were hoping to avoid!


#4. White Millet:

white proso millet birdseed

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

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

Even though it’s small, there is a shell on this tiny round seed. Some birds eat millet whole, while others crack it open and leave behind the small hull. Personally, I have never noticed enough waste leftover from white millet husks to be concerned.

But there are actually some no-mess bird seed blends out there that include HULLED white millet, so you don’t have to worry about ANY waste. But I have found that most no-mess bird seed mixes just include white millet that still has a shell.

Whether you want your white millet hulled or not is up to you. However, I have included a bird seed blend for each option below, regardless of your preference.

no mess bird seed


#5. Safflower:

safflower - best bird food

View Price - Amazon | View Price - Chewy

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

In full disclosure, safflower seeds aren’t truly considered “no mess” food. These small seeds have a hard shell that surrounds the food inside.

But, when birds crack open the shell, it’s so tiny that it hardly ever leaves any mess. The husks just seem to blow away in the wind. I’ve never gone outside and complained about the mess that safflower seeds make!

And most birds that eat safflower seeds, like Mourning Doves or Blue Jays, just swallow it whole anyway. 🙂


#6. Nyjer seed

different types of bird seed guide


#7. Suet

hanging suet feeders


#8. Hummingbird nectar

where to hang a hummingbird feeder

    • Sitting in your nectar feeder, sugar water doesn’t cause any messes. Even if a little spills on the ground, you may just have to worry about a few ants.

#9 Mealworms

how to feed mealworms to birds


#10. Dried fruit

    • Introduce dried fruit slowly. It’s an excellent supplement, but it won’t be eaten as much as other foods.

Are you ready to go all-in on NO MESS bird seed?

As you know, I think it’s a great idea. But first, let’s address the ONLY negative:

No mess bird seed costs more money. (Compare the costs below)

no mess sunflower seeds

Click the links below to see the price difference on Amazon:

There is no getting around the fact that a bag of shelled sunflower seeds costs much more than the same size bag of sunflower seeds that still has a shell.

But, there are other things to consider.

First, when you buy a bag of shelled sunflower seeds, you are getting way more bird food. Just think about it; you are not paying for the shells and all the room that the shells take up!

It’s estimated that a 50 lb bag of black-oil sunflower seed comprises around 40% percent shell or hull, so only 60% of the food is edible. However, when you buy a bag of shelled sunflower seeds, 100% of the bag is edible!

Second, how much time and effort do you spend cleaning underneath your feeders?

Or are your feeders located on a deck, patio, or balcony, and it’s imperative that it stays clean?

Personally, I’m okay with spending more money on no mess bird food to avoid the disgusting mess that accumulates at my feeding station. By not constantly worrying about waste, I enjoy the hobby much more, which is worth the extra money I have to spend!

Do you want to learn more about NO MESS bird seed?

Then check out these two RELATED articles:

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3 Comments

  1. Hi Scott, I live in the woods in MD, what I do to feed my birds and squirrels is get some tree stumps and aluminum pie pans and drill hole in them and nail them on the stump. That way, I can wipe them out with a damp cloth, and fill them up. I have to watch the amount because we have deer families who come for a snack also, gets pretty pricey. I leaf blow all the waste in the woods, it’s so simple for me.
    I love your articles, cause I’m a bird, animal lover also. They make my day everyday!
    Sally

  2. I get what is called a “Patio Mix” at our garden center, consisting of crushed shelled sunflower seed, crushed peanuts and safflower seeds and the birds gobble it up. It’s true, there is little to no cleanup. I will sprinkle some on the ground for the ground feeders, such as Oregon (Dark Eyed) Junkos. etc. I also mix in mealworms and just a little cracked corn. I find the cracked corn is fairly wasteful and attracts rats.
    I make my own suet out of melted beef fat. I let it harden to room temperature, then mix in the patio mix, a little cracked corn, cut up raisins and cranberries, apple and meal worms. I then freeze it, until I am ready to put it out. It contains no preservatives, so I think it is better for the birds. The problem with it is, I have to use it in cool weather. or it tends to melt. Pork fat is terrible and won’t hold together at all if it is placed in the sun, no natter how cold it is outside.