Selecting the Best Wild Bird Seed Mix

Selecting the Best Wild Bird Seed Mix

Backyard birds are always a beautiful sight. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy to attract them. If you want more feathered critters in your yard, it’s essential to find the right mix of food.

There are many kinds of wild bird seed on the market, and different birds have different preferences. Some food that may be appealing to a particular bird species may not be appealing to others. Knowing the best wild bird seed mix can help you attract the flock you want to see.

You may also already have feathered friends who are already regular visitors, and it’s just as vital to maintain their presence. Make your yard a welcome haven for wild birds by feeding them the right bird seed mix.

Types of Bird Seeds for Wild Birds

Some bird feeders do not pay much attention to the types of bird seed they purchase. Often, people choose the most economical option for their bird-feeding activities. Many don’t even bother trying to know the different components of wild bird food.

However, knowing what seeds go into the mix can be helpful. Some seeds work more than others, while some only function as “filler” seeds. These seeds often go uneaten by birds and can contribute to unnecessary waste or even unsightly weeks popping up under the feeder. Some of the more economical options contain more than half of their content in these fillers, meaning they are not as cost-efficient as they may appear. 

If you find that this is the case, it may be time to re-evaluate your choices for bird-feeding. Acquaint yourself with proper wild bird food and see which seeds make the best wild bird seed mix.

Sunflower Seeds

These seeds are considered the most popular as a massive variety of birds eat them. Backyard birds love sunflower seeds, which have an incredible amount of protein, fat, and other nutritional content. 

Sunflower seeds are loved by finches, cardinals, woodpeckers, chickadees, sparrows, and more. If not placed into a tube feeder, these seeds can be grown as flowers in hotter weather. The birds themselves will harvest and eat the seeds by pecking away at the heads. They can also be used as an ingredient in suet cakes, a fat-based nutritional supplement placed in bird feeders. They can also be hung as little feed ornaments.

Different kinds of sunflower seeds have different characteristics, and all of them remain a superior choice in bird seed mixes.

Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

These are the most accessible and popular choices for bird feeders. The hulls of black oil sunflower seeds are easier to crack, so even smaller birds with weaker beaks can feast on them. As suggested by their names, black oil sunflower seeds are packed with oil that birds enjoy. The oil is rich in nutrients, making it even more ideal for birds.

While these seeds are popular for a good reason, they are not the neatest to deal with. Birds often dispose of the outer shells on the ground, contributing to littering and damage to nearby plants. Make sure the clean the area thoroughly if you use black oil sunflower seeds in your bird seed mix.

Striped Sunflower Seeds

Striped sunflower seeds are another variety of sunflower seeds with more rigid shells. Weaker-billed birds generally cannot crack their hulls. Thus, it’s not a popular pick for sparrows and finches, but it’s good for cardinals and grosbeaks.

But birds are not the only ones who benefit from these treats. Striped sunflower seeds can also be toasted and served as snacks to people, too. These seeds are filled with a good amount of nutritional content, including vitamins and healthy fat.

Hulled Sunflower Seeds

Among its kind, hulled sunflower seeds are probably the easiest to maintain. Hulled sunflower seeds are also called “sunflower hearts” or “chips.” All types of backyard birds enjoy them, including little birds whose bills are weaker. You also don’t have to worry about cleaning the surrounding areas since there are no hulls to be disposed of.

Safflower Seeds

These white-hulled seeds are derived from the safflower, which blooms in thistles with vibrant colors. Birds don’t often prefer safflower seeds due to their hard shell, but they are rich in carbohydrates, fat, and protein, which helps keep them healthy. Some birds, like doves, house finches, and woodpeckers can manage to eat the seeds without issue. They don’t eat the hulls, though, so make sure to clean the surrounding areas.

The seed is helpful because they keep away pests and other “bully birds,” such as blue jays, magpies, crows, and European starlings. When safflower seeds are in the mix, they have a higher chance of leaving the bird feeders without stealing their food.

Nyjer Seeds

These seeds are a crowd favorite among finches, sparrows, redpolls, and other small birds. Nyjer seeds are also called “thistle seeds,” though it has nothing to do with thistle plants. They have a high oil content, which provides them with a good amount of energy and nutrients. Their husks aren’t hard to remove, making them ideal for little birds.

They are often used as finch seed mixes and other feeds for small wild birds. If you want to attract a lively-looking American goldfinch in your yard, make sure that your bird food has nyjer seeds.

White Millet Seeds

White millet seeds are a grain crop seed well-loved by ground-feeding birds. They attract little- to medium-sized birds like wrens, towhees, mourning doves, and quails. White proso millet seeds are among the most economical options for bird seed mixes because of their versatility and nutritiousness. However, they can also attract bully birds, so keep an eye out.

Red Millet Seeds

Another variety of millet grains, red millet seeds have the same nutritional content and properties as white millet seeds. They attract the same kinds of ground-feeding birds. Birds generally prefer white millet seeds as they are softer and sweeter, but red millet is still a good choice. 

Take note that these seeds are not the same as milo seeds. They are easily confused as they look similar, have similar colors, and even sound alike. However, where red millet is nutritious and beloved by birds, milo seeds are often placed as fillers in a bird seed mix.

Cracked Corn

Platform- and ground-feeding birds also appreciate cracked corn. These are made of dried and hardened corn kernels broken into smaller pieces. Cracked corn can get a less-than-ideal reputation because many bird feeders consider it cheap filler seeds. While it is true that they are economical, they do attract a good number of small- to medium-sized birds. They are often given to quails, grosbeaks, cardinals, and doves. 

This feed can also attract blue jays, crows, and other bully birds as they are such a versatile treat. Ensure that these birds don’t dominate your feeding space so as not to scare away other feathered critters.


Peanuts are many people’s go-to snack, and the same sentiment holds for birds. Shelled peanuts are a tasty yet nutritional source of fat and protein. They contain vitamins A, E, zinc, potassium, iron, and more. Because of their shells, they’re ideal for woodpeckers, cardinals, and other birds with stronger beaks.

Mesh feeders are probably the best containers for these legumes, as putting them elsewhere may attract other unwanted feeders. Chipmunks, raccoons, and even field mice and rats can also take a liking to shelled peanuts, so be wary of where you place them.

Grains, Fruit Seeds, and Other Miscellaneous Feeds

Grains (aside from grain seeds like millet) are generally suitable for birds to snack on. Oatmeal, wheat, and barley have a lot of nutritional value, and they are eaten by pigeons, doves, and other medium-sized birds. Avoid rice or other big lentils as not all birds can swallow them.

Though not always found in bird seed mixes, Fruit seeds are a great choice as well. You can find digestible seeds from berries, pomegranate, grapefruits, pumpkins, and squashes. Medium- to large-sized birds themselves often forage for these treats. Just be mindful of the seed sizes to avoid choking hazards, especially for smaller birds.

Looking For Quality Wild Bird Seed Mixes?

The best wild bird seed mix depends on the flocks of birds that visit your yard. Is your area more prone to little or medium-sized ones? Then you might want to consider a food mix without millet seeds. You can also opt for a bird mix with wheat for more versatility.

You can find tons of wild bird seeds in Standish Milling and try to concoct your perfect mix. Or, if you need further advice on finding the best wild bird seed mix, reach out to us—we can help with your bird-feeding needs.