You show up at your local outdoor store, Lowe’s, grocery store, Atwood’s, what have you, and finally get to the bird feeding aisle. And you find dozens and dozens of different options, all promising to attract all the most desirable songbirds. What do you choose?
Or maybe you’ve been feeding birds for a while now and you’d like to up your game just a bit, maybe treat your birds to something special.
In this article, I’m going to cover the “default” seed blend. That is, I’m not going to touch on any specialized individual seed bags, but rather I want to discuss the sort of thing most people put into their “main” or only bird feeder.
There are a few caveats I’d like to get out of the way first.
For one, I can only speak in general and from my own experiences. Some people have different luck with different seed blends because the birds in their area are different. Just as an example, I’ve never seen safflower seeds advertised for House Finches, but mine are positively addicted to safflower.
For two, I’m still adamant that black oil sunflower seeds alone are the best bang for your buck you can get. Unless you’re willing to shell out for a seed bag that has some more “premium” ingredients, I highly recommend sticking with straight sunflower. That being said, I don’t deny the allure and fun of serving lots of different kinds of food for your birds. I’m with you!
I think the best way to do this article is actually to rank the various possible ingredients in a bird seed blend in a tier list. If you’re unfamiliar with a tier list, you’ll quickly pick up on how it goes as I type this out for you.
In ranking these, I factor in a few things: Number of birds that eat it, how much birds seem to like it, if it attracts anything besides birds, and my general observations. I will go Let’s get into it!
THE QUICK VERSION:
S-TIER: Black oil sunflower seeds
A-TIER: Sunflower chips, shelled peanuts, tree nuts, safflower seeds, mealworms
B-TIER: White millet, peanuts with shells, black stripe sunflower seeds
C-TIER: Dried fruit, pumpkin seed
D-TIER: Cracked corn, shelled corn, nyjer
F-TIER: Milo, oats, wheat, buckwheat, rapeseed, pretty much anything except for what’s listed above
THE LONG VERSION:
Next time you go buy a bird seed blend, I hope that consulting my tier list will help you choose a great blend. Sadly, there are far too many blends out there for me to review each one individually, so for now I’ll have to do it this way.
I’ll have individual articles about different seeds and their benefits, but the tier list is designed to be a way to figure out the quality of a seed blend at a glance.
This list is not definitive, nor does it cover all options for feeding birds. There are still many other ways like setting out fresh fruit or using all manner of suet. In addition, your particular birds will have different tastes. I encourage you to experiment and see where your sweet spot is.
I did some poking around on Amazon and I found a two seed blends that I think score well using the tier list. I have not tried these blends, but I would purchase them myself based on their ingredients:
Wagner’s Songbird Banquet – Contains: black oil sunflower (S), stripe sunflower (B), shelled peanuts (A), safflower (A), and tree nuts (A). As you can see, this blend incorporates only one B-tier seed, the rest are A-tier and S-tier. If you have a squirrel problem, this won’t solve it, but there is zero junk in this blend.
Cole’s Nutberry Suet Blend – Contains: sunflower chips (A), shelled peanuts (A), tree nuts (A), berry and insect kibble (A and C-tier), other fruits (C-tier). This is a more expensive blend and the cost seems to come from the high amount of dried fruit. If you have a lot of fruit-eaters, this is a great blend.
Try using the tier list for yourself the next time you shop! Don’t discount a blend just because it has a C-tier ingredient. Those C-tier ingredients might be one of your backyard friend’s favorite foods!
Let me know what you think! Am I wrong about something? Is this helpful? What blends do you use?