Backyard bird-watching is one of our family’s favourite simple pleasures. Each season we look forward to a colorful display of yellow finches, orange orioles, blue jays, red cardinals and black and white woodpeckers. Any bird is welcome, and the more the merrier!
As a special treat this year, I picked up some deluxe bird feed at my favourite local seed store, Nature’s Nest in Londesborough. The proprietors create custom blended bird seed mixes that are a hit with our feathered friends and keep them returning often to our yard. I love the amazing selection of custom feeds they sell, but I especially enjoy the great bird feeder advice I get at Nature’s Nest. It really turns my purchase into an extra-enjoyable shopping experience.
This year we are hanging three feeders in our yard. We have a finch feeder filled with Nyjer seed, a little wooden feeder my daughter decorated filled with Bird’s Delight – a custom blend of striped and black oil sunflower seeds, safflower, white millet and peanut pick-outs and a suet feeder with a warm weather suet blend.
If you’re trying to attract birds to your backyard, here’s a little guide to choosing the right seeds for your feeders:
Black-oil sunflower – The most common type of seed offered at feeders in North America is black-oil sunflower seed. This small sunflower seed is high in energy and has thin shells, making it the preferred food item for a wide variety of birds. Black-oil sunflower is among the favorite feeder foods of cardinals, chickadees, finches, and sparrows. Woodpeckers even consume these seeds on occasion.
Striped Sunflower – Striped sunflower seeds are larger and thicker-shelled than black-oil sunflower. Frequently found in seed mixes, striped sunflower is a favorite food item for large-billed birds capable of cracking the shells.
Nyjer – Often called “thistle” seed, nyjer is not related to North American thistle plants. This imported seed has become increasingly popular in recent years, largely due to its ability to attract finches including American Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, and Common Redpoll.
Safflower – Safflower resembles a white sunflower seed. Grown for its oil and for bird seed, safflower attracts cardinals and other big-billed birds. In our experience, however, most birds prefer sunflower seeds over safflower.
Corn – Corn is an inexpensive grain that many feeder-watchers provide for birds. Whole corn is a favorite of wild turkeys and ducks, cracked corn will also attract doves, quail, and sparrows.
Millet – A small, round grain, millet is commonly found in seed mixes. Millet is preferred by many smaller, ground-foraging birds. A handful of millet sprinkled on the ground will keep your juncos and sparrows happy.