Written By
Published Oct. 14, 2021

A yard is an enjoyable benefit to any home, giving you space to host barbecues, sit outside with a morning coffee, or play with kids and pets. Bird feeders are a common addition to residential yards, giving kids and adults the ability to see and interact with nature in a unique way. Bird seed is available in an assortment of mixtures, so you can choose the ideal product for birds that are native to your region.

Additionally, the best bird seed can also help to attract new, colorful birds from around the area with appealing seeds that aid the birds’ nutrition. You can also consider adding some colorful plants to draw in hummingbirds and other small bird species. Take a look at the top products below and keep reading for additional information on how to choose the best bird seed for your bird feeder.

How We Picked the Best Bird Seed

Methodology

Feeding birds with a backyard feeder is something that many people enjoy, and it can lead to a significant amount of experience with birds, bird seed, and bird feeders. This experience, as well as extensive product research, helped narrow down these top products from 35 potential choices. I noted the type of seeds, including whether the product was a mix of various seeds or if it contained just one type of seed. Additionally, the type of bird seed or bird seed mix helped to identify the species of birds that would be drawn to this product. Finally, I considered the overall size, weight, and amount of bird seed.

I selected the top products with the wide variety of native bird species in mind, ensuring the range of options would suit the tastes of many different birds. I gave some preference to products that appealed to popular backyard bird species, like cardinals, woodpeckers, and songbirds, though it was also necessary to research and review the type and quality of the seeds to ensure that only the best bird seed products were selected.

Best Bird Seed Reviews & Recommendations

Best Overall: AA Plus White Proso Millet Seed Bird Feed

Naturally Grown and Harvested

Fill backyard feeders with this healthy pick to attract doves, pheasants, finches, and other bird species. AA Plus

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Why It Made the Cut: The 10-pound bulk package of white proso millet seed is grown and harvested naturally, and it’s an excellent supplementary food source for a variety of birds.

Specs: 

  • Seed Type: White proso millet seed
  • Bird Species: Indigo buntings, quail, pheasants, doves, finches, and more.
  • Weight: 10 pounds

Pros:

  • 10-pound bulk package
  • Pure millet seed with no fillers
  • Contains a high level of healthy nutrients for the birds

Cons:

  • Must have an acceptable place to store the bird seed

The AA Plus White Proso Millet Bird Seed is an excellent choice for attracting elegant doves, pleasant quails, and shy pheasants to the yard. White proso millet seeds are also loved by indigo buntings, small finches, and many more bird species. In fact, millet seeds are one of the most popular types of seed for backyard birds, along with safflower and sunflower seeds. 

The reason for this popularity is primarily due to the nutritional value of millet seeds. This package only contains pure millet seed—it does not come with filler seed that can sometimes be included in a bird seed mix. Note that you’ll need to have a safe place to store the excess bird seed from the 10-pound bulk package to avoid attracting rodents.

Best Value: Schoen Farms Striped Sunflower Seeds

Affordable Pack

Get high-quality feed to draw jays, cardinals, woodpeckers, and more. Schoen Farms

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Why It Made the Cut: Inexpensive and appealing, this value pack of striped sunflower seeds contains naturally grown seeds and serves as an excellent source of nutrition.

Specs: 

  • Seed Type: Striped sunflower seeds
  • Bird Species: Cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, finches, and more.
  • Weight: 3 pounds

Pros:

  • Inexpensive
  • Pure striped sunflower seed with no fillers
  • Very popular with a wide variety of birds

Cons:

  • The package is not resealable

Schoen Farms Striped Sunflower Seeds have demonstrated purity levels that greatly exceed the market standards by 99.5 percent, so users can be confident the birds in their yard are getting the best supplementary meal possible. Despite this high level of quality, the three-pound bag comes at an affordable price. It should be noted that the bag isn’t resealable, so users will need to find an appropriate place to store the excess seeds until they are needed.

This inexpensive bird seed product is an excellent option for weekly visits to the park with the kids. Give the little ones a handful to spread around and then sit back to watch various birds eat the striped sunflower seeds, including cardinals, jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, finches, and more. Sunflower seeds are considered one of the most popular bird seed types for a wide range of bird species, so it’s a great option to add to a backyard feeder if you’re not sure what types of birds are native to the area.

Best for Songbirds: Lyric Finch Small Songbird Wild Bird Mix

All-Natural

Attract finches and sparrows with this nutritional blend. Lyric

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Why It Made the Cut: The mixture of five popular seeds, including canary seed, canola seed, Nyjer seed, golden millet seed, and sunflower kernels, attracts many different species of birds to the feeder.

Specs: 

  • Seed Type: Canary seed, canola seed, Nyjer seed, golden millet seed, and sunflower kernels
  • Bird Species: American goldfinch, common redpoll, house finch, pine siskin, purple finch, and more
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros:

  • Appealing to a wide variety of birds
  • Specifically formulated to attract songbirds
  • Resealable package

Cons:

  • Some bags may have a disproportionate mixture of seeds

Put this bird seed blend in a feeder with small windows to attract a wide variety of songbirds and finches including American goldfinches, common redpolls, house finches, pine siskins, purple finches, and more. You can reseal the package when you’re done with the bird seed, so you only need to worry about storing the five-pound bag in a location that is safe from rodents.  

The Lyric Songbird Bird Seed Mix is made of a mixture that includes five different seeds, each known for its popularity with a range of bird species. This mixture contains canary seed, canola seed, Nyjer seed, golden millet seed, and sunflower kernels, though it needs to be mentioned that not every bag comes with an even balance of these seeds. This means that it is possible to end up with a Nyjer seed-heavy bag that may not be as appealing as a mixture with more sunflower kernels or golden millet seed.

Best for Woodpeckers: Lyric Woodpecker No Waste Mix

Excellent Source of Protein

Attract birds with this zero-waste mixture of bird seed, nuts, and fruits. Lyric

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Why It Made the Cut: This mixture is made of several ingredients that can be fully consumed by birds, leaving no waste behind in the bird feeder or on the ground.

Specs: 

  • Seed Type: Shelled peanuts, cracked corn, sunflower kernels, pecans, pistachios, shelled pumpkin seed, dried cranberries, and raisins
  • Bird Species: Woodpeckers, chickadees, jays, nuthatches, titmice, towhees, northern mockingbirds, and more
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros:

  • Zero-waste formula
  • Contains a high level of healthy nutrients for the birds
  • Specifically formulated for woodpeckers
  • Resealable packaging

Cons:

  • Some bags may have a disproportionate mixture of seeds

Help maintain a nice, clean yard by using this zero-waste bird seed mixture that has been made with fully edible ingredients so that the birds don’t have to leave a mess of shells and seed fibers all over the feeder and the ground. The bird seed is especially attractive to woodpeckers, though it’s also appealing to chickadees, jays, nuthatches, titmice, towhees, northern mockingbirds, and more. It comes in a five-pound bag, though this woodpecker bird seed is also available in a 20-pound bag, for those who prefer to stock up for the entire season.   

The affordable Lyric Woodpecker Bird Seed Mix contains shelled peanuts, cracked corn, sunflower kernels, pecans, pistachios, shelled pumpkin seed, dried cranberries, and raisins, offering an impressive variety of food that’s loved by woodpeckers. These nutrients are also very healthy for the birds, though some bags of bird seed may have an uneven ratio of one or more ingredients. This can sometimes occur with bird seed mixtures and is usually not a recurring problem.

Best for Cardinals: Wagner’s Safflower Seed Wild Bird Food

Squirrel-Proof

This package of safflower seed is a favorite of songbirds, but typically disliked by pests. Wagner’s

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Why It Made the Cut: Keep squirrels out of the feeder and simultaneously attract brilliant crimson-colored cardinals with this package of safflower seeds.

Specs: 

  • Seed Type: Safflower seed
  • Bird Species: Cardinals, jays, finches, chickadees, titmice, grosbeaks, nuthatch, woodpecker, doves, and more
  • Weight: 5 pounds

Pros:

  • Resealable bag
  • Specially formulated for cardinals
  • Disliked by squirrels
  • Appealing to a range of birds

Cons:

  • Mixed results possible if birds are accustomed to different seeds

The five-pound Wagner’s Safflower Seed Wild Bird Food is specifically designed for attracting cardinals to the yard. These beautiful birds are crimson in color and they enjoy feeding on safflower seeds. Squirrels, on the other hand, have an odd dislike for this bird seed, making it a great choice for filling feeders that are regularly looted by squirrels. Safflower seed isn’t just a favorite of cardinals—jays, finches, chickadees, titmice, grosbeaks, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and doves are also drawn to this bird seed.

The safflower seed comes in a resealable bag so that the excess bird seed can be kept fresh, though it’s important that the bag is stored in a safe location to prevent mice, rats, and other rodents from trying to steal it. Additionally, if the local birds have been receiving a different type of seed for an extended period of time, like sunflower seeds, it’s possible that switching over to safflower seeds may reduce the number of birds that visit the yard.

Things to Consider Before Buying Bird Seed

Before selecting a bird seed product to fill your bird feeder or even just spread on the lawn, it’s important to know what type of bird seed mixtures are available, as well as the types of birds that like to feed on these seeds. Additionally, you should also consider the size of the product, including the weight and the potential impact this could have on costs and storage.

Bird Seed Mixture

Bird seeds can come in mixed packages or may only have one type of seed, like sunflower or millet seeds. The type of seeds in the package help to determine the type of birds that are attracted to the feeder, though it should be noted that if a species of bird is not native to your region, then the type of bird seed in your backyard feeder isn’t likely to attract these birds. 

Some of the most popular bird seed and bird food choices that you may want to add to your bird feeder include black or striped sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, Nyjer or thistle seed, peanuts, milo seeds, cracked corn, suet, millet seeds, and mealworms.

Bird Species

There are many different species of birds that tend to frequent backyard bird feeders ranging from small songbirds like chickadees to large crows. However, not every type of bird prefers the same type of seeds, though most do enjoy sunflower and millet seeds. If you are looking to attract a specific species of bird it’s necessary to spend some time learning about the food they prefer. Here’s a list of bird species and their favorite foods:

  • American goldfinches enjoy Nyjer seeds or thistle seeds.
  • Bluebirds like to eat mealworms, suet, and berries. 
  • Buntings have a modest palette and prefer to snack on safflower, millet, and sunflower seeds.
  • Cardinals are similar to buntings with a preference for safflower, millet, and sunflower seeds.
  • Chickadees are small songbirds that like sunflower seeds, peanuts, and suet.
  • Crows may not be what you are trying to see in your yard, but they are drawn to suet, peanuts, and meat scraps.
  • Doves are always nice to see, so consider adding millet seeds, sunflower seeds, nuts, thistle seeds, cracked corn, and milo seeds to your feeder.
  • Grosbeaks are known to like more common offerings of safflower and sunflower seeds.
  • Jays have a broad palette that includes peanuts, peanut kernels, sunflower seeds, corn, and suet.
  • Nuthatches will partake of suet, nuts, corn, and sunflower seeds.
  • Robins enjoy mealworms, suet, berries, nut meal, raisins, and currants to attract these scarlet-chested birds.
  • Starlings enjoy eating suet, milo seeds, and corn.
  • Thrashers are drawn to bird feeders stocked with fruit, nuts, sunflower seeds, and suet.
  • Titmice are small, energetic birds that eat sunflower seeds, peanut kernels, and suet.
  • Woodpeckers feast on a range of foods including insects, suet, nuts, sunflower seeds, sugar water, cracked corn, pumpkin seed, and fruit.

Size and Weight

Bird seed can come in a variety of different package sizes and weights, so if you only want a small amount for a quick outing to a local park, you can definitely get it. Likewise, you can get bird seed packages that contain more than 20 pounds of bird seed for the individuals that prefer to stock up with a single bulk package instead of multiple smaller packages.

However, it’s important to note that heavier bird seed products may increase the shipping costs. Also, bulk packages of bird seed need to be safely stored so that they do not become an attractive food source for invading rodents. If the seed is not properly stored, your home may quickly be infested with mice, rats, and other rodents that can nest inside the walls, floors, and ceilings.

FAQs

Q: What is the healthiest seed for birds?

One specific type of seed cannot be the healthiest for every bird species due to the differences in their genetic makeups. However, a popular choice for a wide variety of bird species is sunflower seed. Many birds also enjoy feeding on white proso millet seeds. Other popular options include milo seeds, safflower seeds, Nyjer or thistle seeds, and canary seed.

Q: How can I attract more colorful birds?

The best way to draw a wider variety of birds to your yard is to add plant species that attract these birds, like purple coneflowers, sunflowers, milkweed, honeysuckle, and sumac. Brightly colored flowers are also a good option to attract smaller birds, especially hummingbirds if they are native to your region.

Q: Is bird seed bad for birds?

Bird seed and bird feeders are an excellent way to feed the birds from the comfort of your backyard, which can help younger children and even some adults find a passion for conservation. However, if a bird feeder is not regularly cleaned or the yard simply has too many bird feeders, the method of feeding and the accumulated seeds can become a risk for birds.

Contrary to popular belief, this is not because the birds rely on the seeds too much, but rather its because the feeders act as a gathering place for many different types of birds that may be carrying diseases that are not familiar to other species. These diseases are easily transmitted during feeding and can lead to severe outbreaks in local populations.

Mitigate this risk by regularly cleaning the bird feeder and limiting the number of feeders in the yard. It’s also advised to reduce the amount of bird seed in the feeder and only refill when the bird seed is completely gone.

Final Thoughts

Ready to have a backyard full of birds? Attract a wide variety to your feeder with the AA Plus White Proso Millet Bird Seed, or opt for feeding using one of the most popular types of seeds with the three-pound bag of Schoen Farms Striped Sunflower Seeds.

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