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bird seed preferences

Bird Seed Preferences

Courtesy of Global Harvest Foods

Setting up a bird feeder is a great way to attract birds to your yard, but how do you choose the right type of bird food? To begin, find out which birds frequent feeders in your area by visiting Project FeederWatch, a crowd-sourced database of the “top 25” common feeder birds by state. Next, decide which birds you would like to attract and learn their favorite foods.

Bird seed blends typically include a combination of seeds, grains, nuts and fruit: 

Common ingredients         



Black oil sunflower

Everybody’s favorite!


Sunflower hearts

Small songbirds


Striped sunflower

Large birds

Hopper or Platform



Finch Tube


Disliked by squirrels

Hopper or Platform


Ground-feeding birds


Cracked corn

Ground-feeding birds

Platform or Table

Milo (sorghum)

Squirrels/ground feeders


Peanuts (unsalted)

Variety of nut-loving birds

Peanut Feeder

Mixed nuts

Variety of nut-loving birds



Insect-eating birds like bluebirds

 Mealworm Feeder

Dried fruit

Fruit-loving birds


Bird food blends with lots of black-oil sunflower and millet will appeal to most seed-eating birds. Sunflower hearts (shells removed) are perfect for tiny songbird beaks, while larger birds have no problem breaking the shells of striped sunflower seeds.

Tube and sock feeders are easy to hang and simple for birds to use. Store your extra seed in a cool, dry location and check regularly for signs of infestation or mold.  

Is your yard a squirrel highway? You might want to try safflower seeds, which birds like cardinals love, but squirrels and “bully birds” don’t care for. Setting up a separate feeding station for squirrels is a good idea too. 

Bird Visitors to Expect

The Dark-eyed Junco is the most common feeder bird in North America. Other birds commonly seen and welcome at seed feeders include: woodpeckers, American Goldfinch, House Finch, Purple Finch, nuthatches, sparrows, Pine Siskin, Northern Cardinal, grosbeaks and towhees, to name a few.

We have hundreds of bird species in North America and they have different food preferences (we’ve included the five most common feeder birds for each category below – please note that many are omnivores, and enjoy a combination of foods):

Seeds: Use our handy Wild Bird Seed Guide to find the right mix for your backyard seed-eaters.

  • Finches
  • Pine Siskins
  • Grosbeaks
  • Nuthatches
  • Chickadees and many others!

Grains: Ground-feeding birds cannot get enough of millet, red or white.

  • Juncos
  • Towhees
  • Sparrows
  • Doves/Pigeons
  • Quail and others 

Fruits: Many brightly colored birds, including many migrant species, rely on fruit for their diet.

  • Orioles
  • Waxwings
  • Tanagers
  • Thrushes
  • Robins and others

Peanuts/Mixed Nuts: Squirrels love nuts too, so baffles are recommended.

  • Woodpeckers
  • Brown Creepers
  • Jays
  • Nuthatches and others

Insects (Mealworms/Suet): The majority of birds rely on insects for part of their diet.

  • Bluebirds
  • Titmouse
  • Warblers
  • Wrens
  • Kinglets and many others!

Nectar: Hummingbirds are the most popular nectivores.

  • Hummingbirds
  • Orioles
  • Warblers
  • Curve-billed Thrasher and others

If you cater to their tastes, then your yard will become known as a thriving bird community, hopefully attracting many new and colorful songbirds.