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Setting up a bird feeder is a great way to attract birds to your yard, but there are many types of birdseed to choose from. Understanding the difference in the types of birdseed can help you offer the most desirable meal to your local birds, and can lead to attracting different species to your backyard. One mistake commonly made is choosing birdseed for the birds you want to attract, instead, start by selecting a seed for the birds already in and around your yard. Birds are social creatures and will investigate their area for feeding activities, which will in turn draw more birds of different species to your yard.

Sunflower Seeds are a great choice to draw birds to your feeders and come in a variety of styles that appeal to most birds. Black oil sunflower seeds are the most common and are great for songbirds, while striped sunflower seeds appeal to larger birds with stronger bills. You may also choose hulled sunflower seeds or chips which are popular with smaller birds. But hulled sunflower seeds are more expensive and are also a treat for squirrels and chipmunks which will scare off your birds and eat all the seeds themselves so you will want to place these types of seeds in a feeder that is not easily accessible to them. 

If you continue to have a problem with squirrels you may want to switch to Safflower Seed, which appeals to many of the same birds as sunflower seeds but are less desirable to squirrels and chipmunks.

Cracked Corn is a less expensive seed usually used as filler in birdseed mixes but its high carbohydrate content make it suitable for many ground-feeding birds with larger appetites.

Nyjer seeds are popular for small clinging finches. These seeds are high in oil, making them great for winter bird feeding. Nyjer seeds are also light and can be easily spilled or blown away. Using mesh-style or sock feeders will limit lost seed and clinging birds will have no problem feeding from these type of feeders.

A common component in birdseed mixes, Millet can also be purchased separately and will work with hopper, tube, and platform feeders, as well as sprinkling around your yard for ground feeding birds.

Suet is also a popular choice for feeding birds, particularly in the winter. The fat used to create suet cakes is essential to helping maintain body heat, and can be mixed with a variety of other ingredients to appeal to many different species of birds. You will typically have a feeder specifically designed for suet because it can be messy, but chopping the suet up and placing in a platform feeder is also an option if a suet feeder is not available.

If you are going with a blend of seed, choose one with a high content of sunflower seeds or millet because these seeds appeal to a broad variety of birds. Stay away from fillers like milo and cracked corn because these types of seeds do not appeal to as many species of birds. Make sure your excess seed is stored in a cool, dry location, and investigate regularly for signs of mold, mildew, or insect infestation to get the most out of your birdseed and to keep the birds coming back for more.

Follow these guide lines and you’ll have a backyard full of beautiful wild birds before you know it. And if you have any further questions, please
visit your local Tractor Supply Store or