The 10 Best Bird Food
This wiki has been updated 21 times since it was first published in October of 2016. Whether you keep birds as indoor pets or are trying to attract some beautiful feathered friends to your backyard, these packs of nutritious food will provide healthy sustenance with flavors and textures they’re sure to love. They come in varieties formulated specially for certain breeds in seed, cake, and pellet options, in bags and containers designed to maintain long-lasting freshness. When users buy our independently chosen editorial recommendations, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
April 14, 2020:
Whether you’re in search of seed, pellets, or suet cakes, and whether you’re looking to feed your pet bird or ones that stop by your backyard feeder, our list has plenty of options for you. In today’s update, we rounded out the selection by removing a couple of parrot food options, while still leaving the ZuPreem Natural and Lafeber's Classic Nutri-Berries in place. In turn, we added in a couple of blends designed for other types of pet birds. Kaytee Supreme Finch Food is a wholesome mix of seeds, grains, and pellets that ensures a simple, yet healthy, diet for this popular little house bird. It’s made up of millet, steel cut oats, ground corn, and soybean oil, without any artificial colors or flavors. The RoudyBush Daily Maintenance is scientifically formulated with parakeets, finches, and canaries in mind, and is made up of corn, wheat, rosemary, yucca, and soy ingredients.
For backyard birds, look to the Wagner's 52004 Classic, which is designed to attract a wide variety of songbirds during all seasons of the year, from winter months when sustenance is harder to come by, to the season of autumn when migratory birds are in need of much energy. It satisfies feathered friends with its combination of sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, and milo.
For an alternative to seeds that’s highly satisfying for a number of outdoor species, look to the C&S Peanut Delight, which consists of 12 suet cakes that can be used throughout the year, thanks to their no-melt formula. They’ve been known to attract the likes of blue jays, woodpeckers, starlings, finches, chickadees, nuthatches, wrens, and titmice. Another tasty alternative to seed that certain types of birds can’t get enough of is mealworms. And, if you’re squeamish about handling live ones, look to the Amzey Appetizing Dried Mealworms, which are good for a variety wild birds, ducks, chickens, and reptiles. It’s available in bag sizes of up to 11 pounds, each with a secure zip-top closure to keep the contents fresh, without refrigeration required. It’s high in protein to provide birds and other animals with plenty of energy.
No matter which bird seed you buy and store in your pantry or shed, be sure to keep it well sealed and away from the reach of small children.
Wild Birds Unlimited TreeNutty Plus A favorite of woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, blue jays, and titmice, this blend is loaded with chopped tree nuts, shelled peanuts, sunflower chips, and raisins. It contains added calcium, which helps promote strong bones and eggs. Additional blends available include a supreme mix, which attracts a wide variety of birds, and a no-mess formula, which features seeds that have had their shells removed to make for tidier feeding without debris to clean up. wbu.com
Elite Wild Bird Mix Available in bags of 10, 20, or 40 pounds, this blend contains black oil sunflower, white proso millet, cracked corn, peanut pieces, striped sunflower, sunflower hearts, and safflower – without any fillers. It’s made by a company in Dubuque, Iowa that also produces mixes for parrots, cockatiels, and outdoor finches. hendricksfeed.com
How To Pick The Right Bird Food
Your best bet is to try to get more of the birds that are already coming over, so take notice of who your visitors are, then find out which seeds they prefer.
Birds are funny creatures. When you don't want them around — right after you washed your car, for example — they'll flock to your side and refuse to leave. But when you want them to stop by, such as to visit your bird bath or feeder, they'll stay as far away as possible.
Luckily, birds are also like college students: if you feed them for free, they'll keep coming back again and again. Unlike college students, though, birds won't eat just anything they find lying on the ground, so you'll have to find something they like.
A big mistake you need to avoid is getting your hopes up in terms of what species you're going to attract. Your best bet is to try to get more of the birds that are already coming over, so take notice of who your visitors are, then find out which seeds they prefer.
Sunflower seeds are usually popular with most species. If you don't want a mess, you can buy them already shelled, as this will prevent birds and squirrels from leaving trash behind. It's more expensive, though.
If you have an issue with squirrels, switching to safflower seed can help. It's still large enough to be attractive to birds like cardinals and woodpeckers, while being uninviting to rodents.
Nyjer and millet are two smaller seeds that more petite birds enjoy. They blow away easily, though, you're better off putting them in a feeder of some sort.
There are other seeds that are often used as filler because they're cheaper and lower-quality, like cracked corn and milo. However, some birds will still eat these, especially ground-feeding species like quail and turkeys.
Once you've found a selection that has all the seeds you're looking for, check the mixture. Look for more of the higher-quality seeds and less filler, and check to make sure there's not too much dust or cracked shells inside, as this indicates the food isn't fresh anymore.
You'll probably save money by buying in bulk, but be sure it'll get eaten before it goes stale, or else you'll have a lot of wasted seed on your hands.
At that point, the only thing it's good for is feeding to those lousy college students.
How To Attract Birds To Your Lawn
Bird watching is both fun and relaxing — but only if you have birds to watch. Otherwise, it looks a lot like staring off into space.
To get the birds to actually show up, though, you have to make your yard suitable for them. That means it should be both safe and inviting.
It's even better if you can grow your own birdseed to supplement the spread you leave out for them.
Safety is a bigger consideration than you might think, especially if there are quite a few stray cats roaming around your neighborhood. That means that you need to give them plenty of cover and places to hide, including several options that are high off the ground.
Trees are always a good idea, and if you install a bird bath, make it a tall one. The denser your trees and bushes, the better, and you can even build a brush pile or add some roost boxes to give them even more hiding spots.
Sprinkling seeds goes a long way towards making your home more inviting to them, but it's far from the only thing you can do. They need water — not just for drinking, but also for bathing.
In addition to that tall bird bath you just ordered, you can add a pond, a fountain, or any other water source. Moving water piques their curiosity, so anything you can do to set the liquid in motion will help.
It's even better if you can grow your own birdseed to supplement the spread you leave out for them. This means adding foliage that puts out seeds your birds like to munch on. This not only gives them food and shelter, but it might make them so comfy that they build a nest and decide to raise their kids right there in your backyard.
Great — another couple college funds to worry about.
How To Lure Other Wildlife To Your Backyard
The problem with watching nature is that it gets addictive. You spy on a couple birds, next thing you know you want to see deer — that's why experts consider birds to be a gateway species (this may not be true).
The best way to do it is to turn your lawn into an all-you-can-eat buffet for wildlife. This means keeping your lawn lush and green, as well as adding all those seed-bearing trees we mentioned above.
You can even teach the animals to come to you when you sing every morning, just like a Disney princess.
If those trees and bushes grow flowers, you can get bees, butterflies, and a variety of other insects, which are beneficial in addition to being beautiful.
Having a garden is like setting up a big neon sign that says, "Eat here." Of course, if you actually care about your garden, this is bad news, but if you're only concerned with seeing fuzzy creatures, it's a great way to get them to stop by. You can get rabbits, deer, chipmunks, raccoons, and who knows what else. One thing to be aware of: if you're attracting sharks, you're putting out the wrong food, and we have lots of questions for you.
Just don't leave out scraps, and be sure to keep your trash covered. Meat will likely attract animals you'd rather avoid, like coyotes, skunks, rats, and even bears in some places. Stick to luring vegetarians.
Also, be careful with the chemicals you spread on your lawn. Some pesticides can kill the cute animals, either on contact or after they eat the bugs that the pesticides kill.
With some planning and a little bit of luck, you can turn your backyard into a wildlife preserve in no time. You can even teach the animals to come to you when you sing every morning, just like a Disney princess.