Different Types of Bird Seed and Food

There are many seed mixes in the market today. You don’t want to spend on an inexpensive mix, especially if it contains filler seeds such as oats and millet, only to save some a dollar. Most birds don’t eat these, and they get wasted, and if you do not clean up soon, these seeds become the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and mold to form.

Here is a list of different types of bird seed and food to feed your birds:


This seed attracts the broadest variety of birds by far. There are primarily two kinds – black oil and kernels. The black oil seeds have a very thin outer shell and are therefore easy for small birds to pick apart. The kernels are larger and are high in fat and hence very attractive to most migratory winter birds.  You should put these seeds in your hopper or tube feeders.


These seeds are a tad bit more expensive that the other. You can find mixes which contain these along with millet and sunflower chips as well as other seeds; this will be more economical. These white seeds are the favorites of doves, titmice and cardinals, although, other songbirds will also enjoy them. These birds are larger than their cousins, so it is best to offer these seeds in a large hopper or tray/ platform feeder.

Stripped Sunflower

While most birds prefer black oil sunflower to striped sunflower seed, it remains a cheaper alternative.

White proso millet

This seed is a favorite among ground feeding birds (towhees, sparrows, juncos, cardinals, doves and the like) and so you can scatter them wherever you wish. Just make sure there are no cats around! The downside is that this seed is also a favorite among most cow birds and black birds, which you don’t want feeding with the others. Black oil sunflower is an excellent alternative since all the birds that prefer millet also love sunflower.


You can put peanuts in tray and window feeders, and Blue jays will love it.  If they reach them before the squirrels do. If you offer peanuts or mixtures of peanuts in tube feeders, you should change the seed frequently, especially during rainy or humid weather. It helps to empty completely out and cleaning the tube ever so often to avoid mold from forming on your seeds.

Cracked or shelled corn

It is a favorite of House Sparrows, cowbirds, starlings, geese, bears, raccoons, and deer. It is also a huge favorite among most birds and the bird food most likely to be contaminated with aflatoxins, which are extremely toxic even at low levels. Never buy corn in plastic bags, never allow it to get wet, never offer it in amounts that can’t be consumed in a day during rainy or very humid weather, and be careful about raking up old corn.


Millet is high in starch and is a good food source for small birds. It is particularly favored by finches, juncos, buntings, sparrows and towhees, both when offered in feeders and on the ground. Millet can be offered in small tube feeders and hopper feeders, or it can be grown in a bird garden for a natural food source.

 Nyjer/ Thistle seeds

Thistle, aka Nyjer seed, is a finch favorite food. This food is loved by Goldfinches, Purple Finches, and even Mourning Doves. These small black seeds from India and Africa are available at most wild bird food markets.

Commercial Mixes

These assorted mixes contain large quantities of milo and millet, as well as smaller quantities of cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and other seeds. These mixes can be useful, but you will most probably see large quantities of waste as birds seek out their favorite seeds in the mix. To prevent as much waste, you could add more desirable seed such as sunflower chips or nyjer seeds.


Suet is a raw fat of the kidneys or loins of cattle. You can also put seed cakes in these feeders. Birds that flock to the suet: jays, a variety of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, wrens and more.


Make sure to read the list of ingredients on birdseed mixtures, avoiding those with these seeds. In particular, if a seed mix has a lot of small, red seeds, make sure they’re milo or sorghum, not red millet.