When shopping for the best bird seed for wild birds, you will find that there are seemingly an infinite number of options from dozens of brands. Unfortunately, all bird seed is not created equal. Well, in this case, not all bird seed is grown, harvested, processed, packaged, stored, and shipped equally. When shopping for bird seed you should consider the following:
- Type of Bird Seed: Does the seed attract the bird varieties you want?
- Freshness and Quality: Does the seed come in a condition that birds will love?
- Quantity and Value: Is the bird seed offered at a price that is reasonable for the size?
As you begin to review the different options for bird seed you will probably notice that every seed type will have several different birds that are interested. Some birds love certain types of seed and other birds may just eat that seed when nothing else is available.
The best place to start is with the best bird seed reference chart to find out which types of seed are most interesting to the birds you would like to see more often at your bird feeder.
Bird seed is available in three main varieties:
- Mixes and Blends – Individual seed types are mixed and blended to help bird enthusiasts cater to a wider array of bird species. This mixes will often contain some or all of the single seed types described below.
- Single Seed – Sunflower, nyjer, safflower, cracked corn, millet, milo, mealworms, fruit are all single seed/food types that can be found packaged independently or as part of mixes.
- Suet – Animal fat is formed and combined with seeds, fruit, and more to provide a tasty energy filled treat for birds.
If interested, we briefly outline the most popular bird seed and food types for your reference at the bottom of this page.
Best Bird Seed for Wild Birds – Mixed
What is a Good Seed Mix vs a Cheap Mix?
Choosing a good vs a bad seed mix is a function of making sure the ingredients match up with the birds you are trying to attract. Secondly, it is a function of how much low-quality filler is used in the mix. Cheap mixes will feature significant amounts of cheap seed such as milo, cracked corn, striped sunflower, etc.
A good mix primarily features seed that birds love like black oil sunflower, peanuts, millet, nyjer and others.
The best bird seed options found below are comprised of bird seed mixes that are offered by reputable seed companies, have significant levels of birders that use their product, and are available at a good value.
|Kaytee Nut and Fruit Blend
Cardinals, Chickadees, Nuthatches, Woodpeckers
|Morning Song Deluxe Wild Bird Seed
|Wagner’s Greatest Variety Blend
|Wild Delight Advanced Formula Deck Porch Patio
|Wagner’s Nature’s Best Blend
|Pennington Ultra Nut and Fruit Blend
|TMF Premium Wild Bird Seed
Best Bird Seed by Bird
The best bird seed is not alway a generic blend or mix. In some cases, it may not target the bird species you want to attract. In those cases you may want to consider bird-specific seed mixes that are optimized for the birds you want to visit your feeder. Below is a selection of some of the best bird seed blends based on bird type.
Best Bird Seed for Cardinals
The most well-regarded seed blend to attract cardinals is available from Wagner’s. It features 60% black oil sunflower seeds and 40% safflower seeds which happen to be two of the cardinals favorites. The package features a resealable lock to ensure freshness of the seed that waits to be used.
Best Bird Seed for Finches
A specialized blend specifically customized for finches from Volkman Avian Science. It features a nutritionally optimized blend of white millet, golden millet, canary grass seed, red millet, flax, nyjer, sunflower chips, oat chips, carrots, spinach, orange oil, canola rape seed, and oyster shell. Volkman only uses all-natural ingredients that are human-grade.
Best Bird Seed for Woodpeckers
The woodpecker specific mix from Lyric offers a no-waste solution for attracting woodpeckers. It offers a blend of cracked corn, peanuts, sunflower kernels, tree nuts, pumpkin seeds, cherries, and raisins. The mix is 100% editable with no waste or filler. Works great for woodpeckers as well as jays, chickadees, and nuthatches.
Best Bird Seed for Chickadees
The chickadee mix from lyric is specifically blended to attract chickadees as well as titmice and nuthatches. The blend includes a chickadee friendly mix of white millet, nyjer, golden miller, tree nuts, black oil sunflower seed, peanuts, cracked corn, safflower seed, canary seed, and striped sunflower seed
Best Hummingbird Nectar
This naturally clear hummingbird nectar is a very popular option that comes in a large 64oz container that is ready to use out of the bottle, no mixing! Not only does this nectar attract hummingbirds, it also nourishes them as Kaytee has added electrolytes that serves to hydrate your visitors. The nectar need not be any color as hummingbirds are attracted to the color of your feeder not the color of the nectar.
Best Bird Seed by Type
Once you have a good idea of which birds you prefer in your bird feeders, you can start to fill it primarily with the best bird seed for that particular bird species using our bird seed reference chart to do that. Once you have your eye on a certain seed you can use the list below to find the best seed brands for each bird seed type below.
Best Safflower Bird Seed
Safflower is a favorite of many birds and a favorite of birders due to the fact that squirrels won’t go to too much trouble to get access to it. The safflower seed from Chuckanut products is well-regarded by most of the people who have tried it.
Best Black Oil Sunflower Seed
One of your backyards bird’s favorite seeds is available from Wagner’s. The seed itself is one of the most popular among birds and the quality from this particular brand is unmatched. It is one of the single best selling seeds provided in the United States.
Best Mealworms for Wild Birds
Most birders prefer seed and suet when it comes to their bird feeders. But, you shouldn’t overlook mealworms. After you get over the look of them, you realize that these can be very nutritious and enticing to many bird species. The mealworms from MBTP are a cut above the rest featuring 100% natural non-GMO mealworms. They are dried and come in a resealable zip top bag. A great value from MBTP when compared to buying mealworms in stores.
Suet is a tasty treat that many birds go crazy for. The problem with many suet options is that they don’t hold up in warm weather. The peanut delight is one of the only true no-melt suet cakes available. C & S suet recipes are nutritionally balanced to ensure birds come back for more and are deriving the nutrients they need from it. A great value and simple to put in your favorite suet feeder.
Best Nyjer/Thistle Bird Seed
The finches favorite bird seed is available at a great value from Wagner’s. Nyjer is a very efficient seed from a weight to price value. There are more than 150,000 seeds per pound of nyjer/thistle which means that one bag of nyjer from Wagner’s should allow for one million+ visits to your feeder. The seed is applauded for being very clean and the bag also features a press lock to maintain freshness.
Best Cracked Corn Bird Seed
Cracked corn is an inexpensive way to get to the core of some bird species hearts. It is easily mixed to make your own seed or can be used by itself for cardinals, jays, and titmice. The version from Wagner’s is regarded for its high quality and resealable packaging.
Type of Bird Seed for Wild Birds
Black Oil Sunflower Seed – One of the most popular if not the most popular bird seed type. With a wide array of birds that call this seed their favorite, it shouldn’t be a surprise. The black oil sunflower seed is loaded with oil and fats that deliver much-needed energy to birds. It also features a shell husk that is relatively easy for small and large birds alike to open. Also available in no-mess varieties where only the shell is removed and referred to as hulled sunflower seeds.
Safflower Seed – Many birds will find the safflower seed enticing. But, what makes the safflower a popular bird seed is that squirrels generally will not put forth any effort to get it. This makes it great for minimizing squirrel visits and for bird feeders without protection from squirrels.
Nyjer Seed – Also referred to as thistle, this small elongated seed is a favorite of finches. Natively found in Africa and Asia, this seed is found packaged independently and part of many seed mixes.
Striped Sunflower Seed – The cheaper cousin to the black oil sunflower seed. Birds seem to know the difference and prefer the black oil seed to the striped. Cheaper mixes will commonly use it as an alternative to the more expensive black oil sunflower seed. The striped variety has a harder shell and smaller birds struggle to eat it.
Cracked Corn – Chances are you know what this one looks like. Broken corn pieces are a favorite of many larger wild bird species like jays and bluebirds. Luckily it is relatively inexpensive and often can be found in seed mixes.
Millet – A round small seed that ground-feeding birds go crazy for. White millet, in particular, is a favorite of birds of jays, cardinals, buntings and house finches.
Milo – Milo, also known as sorghum, is a favorite of cheap seed mixes you find in big box stores. It is a reddish round seed that is inexpensive and used as filler mostly. Not many birds will eat this type of seed except for turkeys, game birds, and doves. Avoid this seed when possible.
Suet – Not a bird seed exactly, it may have seed within it. Suet is often made with animal fats such as beef, chicken, turkey, and others. The fat is mixed with bird seed, fruit, peanut butter, and an array of other ingredients and is a favorite of certain bird species.