Want to see birds without ever having to leave home? Look no further than outside your own window. All you need to attract birds is the right type of bird feeder and food. And don’t be concerned about creating a hardship for birds should you decide to take a hiatus from bird feeding. Backyard bird feeders account for a relatively small percent of a bird’s overall food supply, which is why when traditional food is available (i.e., worms, insects, seeds, berries, etc), birds will often opt for that instead.
Black-oil sunflower seed: This is the type that’s preferred by the widest variety of species. Chickadees, titmice, cardinals, and nuthatches are among the popular feeder birds that favor black-oil sunflower seeds.
White millet: Many ground-feeding species, such as juncos and sparrows, are attracted to white millet. Red milo: Some western species, including jays, flock to red milo.
Cracked corn: By scattering cracked corn over the ground, you’ll invite doves to your feeding station.
Mixed seed: This is best sprinkled on the ground or onto platform feeders. Mixed seed typically contains high quantities of millet, preferred by ground-feeding birds: many feeder birds will not take millet. Likewise, ground-feeding birds that favor millet will not have access to it if it’s in a feeder. You may want to investigate to determine which species your yard will attract. Or fill hanging feeders with sunflower seeds and spread mixed seed for ground-feeding birds.
Niger (Thistle): Also known as thistle seed, this will attract small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls. There are feeders specifically designed for thistle seed.
Safflower: Although this seed is typically more expensive than sunflower, it is not proven to be more preferred, but some reports claim that squirrels dislike it.
Suet: Woodpeckers, chickadees, titmice, and nuthatches all enjoy suet. You can hang this in a mesh bag, but it won’t be as protected from raccoons that might help themselves. You may wish to consider purchasing a sturdy suet feeder.
Fruits: Raisins, bananas, currants, and sliced apples may attract mockingbirds, robins, bluebirds, and waxwings. Oranges are a favorite with orioles.
Peanuts: Whole and crushed peanuts attract woodpeckers, jays, chickadees, titmice, bushtits, nuthatches, Brown Creepers, wrens, kinglets, Northern Mockingbirds, Brown Thrashers, starlings, and Yellow-rumped and Pine Warblers. Provide these in tube-shaped, metal mesh feeders.