Top Foods for Birds
Backyard birders who know the best foods to offer will attract a wider range of bird species to enjoy all year round. But what makes a food good for birds, and which foods will attract the most birds?
Good Bird Foods
The best foods for birds are excellent sources of energy, meaning they have a high fat, oil, or sugar content. Good foods will also have protein for optimum bird health, especially for young birds or parents feeding hatchlings. The most popular foods for birds – nutritional foods that attract a lot of species – include:
- Sunflower Seeds: Black oil sunflower seeds have the most meat for the size of the seed with thinner shells than other sunflower varieties so smaller birds can crack them more easily. Of all types of seeds, sunflower seeds will attract the most birds.
- Peanuts: Whether in the shell, shelled, or in pieces, peanuts are a great source of energy for woodpeckers, nuthatches, and titmice. Peanut butter is another great option to offer birds.
- Nyjer: These tiny black seeds are often called thistle, even though they're not related to thistle plants. High in oil, they are preferred by many finches, including goldfinches and redpolls.
- Millet: Millet is a grain high in carbohydrates preferred by many sparrows and finches, including juncos and towhees. Popular in mixed seed, millet can also be purchased separately.
- Suet: Rendered suet fat is available in balls, blocks, and plugs, and is a favorite food of woodpeckers, nuthatches, bushtits, and other species. Different blends are available with nuts, mealworms, seeds, pieces of fruit, and other ingredients to attract different birds.
- Nectar: Simple sugar water is ideal for hummingbirds and orioles, and commercial nectar is available as mixes, concentrates, or ready-to-use formulas, or backyard birders can make their own nectar.
- Mealworms: Dried or fresh, mealworms are an important source of protein for many backyard birds, particularly bluebirds. Other birds will also sample mealworms.
- Jelly: A sweet source of sugar, jelly is a favored food of orioles, and it will also be sampled by woodpeckers and robins. Grape, orange, and apple flavors are the most preferred.
Mix It Up
Even more important than offering the best foods for birds is offering a wide variety of options for birds. By choosing several of these great foods, you will see your backyard flock grow to include many more species that appreciate your backyard buffet.
- Article courtesy of Melissa Mayntz
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