If you are the sort of person who enjoys various wildlife in your garden, you will probably know that the best way to get any living thing into your garden is to tempt it with food. Birds are no exception. To attract a wide array of bird species into your garden, you need to provide various food that small and large birds can eat. To do this, you can buy different seeds and mix them yourself. Alternatively, you can buy a premixed bag of bird feed.
To buy a suitable bird feed for your garden, you can do lots of research or let us do that for you. To save you time and energy, we have researched the top bird seeds in 2023.
There are so many varieties of bird seed available; you may face a difficult decision when deciding between our recommendations. However, we have provided this handy buying guide to help you understand what to look for in all our products.
Things to consider when buying the best bird seed
When choosing birdseed, there are several things you should consider to ensure you get the best product. Having a list of ingredients and features that you want before you start to shop will save you a lot of time and prevent you from buying something that birds won’t be interested in.
Which birds visit your garden?
When choosing the best bird feed, it is better to select a feed based on what birds currently visit your garden. The local birds that are already visiting your garden will come to it more regularly. Other passing birds will see the regular birds feed and be drawn to the feeding area. Eventually, you will attract a wider variety of birds and can change your bird feed accordingly. You may wish to buy more than one bird feeder to keep the different seeds separate and have other designated bird type areas.
The most common birds you may see in your garden are mourning doves, downy woodpecker, American robin, American crow, European Starling, house finch, house sparrow, American goldfinch, and hummingbirds.
Remember, different types of birds prefer different seeds.
To get the best bird seed, you could bird-watch in your garden and see what creatures come to visit. You can then write a list of the birds and figure out the best seed mix for your visitors. Then, when you have a list of birds, you can look up what they eat on the internet and mix and match bird seeds to create the perfect blend.
The most popular seeds for birds are sunflower seeds. You will see that this makes up the largest percentage of most good-quality birdseed packs. Songbirds like black oil sunflower seeds. They are the most common sunflower seed used as bird feed. Larger striped sunflower seeds are more suited to larger birds that have stronger bills. Hulled sunflower seeds are easier to eat for smaller birds. Sunflower seeds are eaten by house Finches, chickadees, titmice, grosbeaks, jays, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, woodpeckers, goldfinches, and doves.
Nyer seeds are small and thin and one of the preferred seeds for small birds like Clinging Finches to eat. This seed is high in calories and will help your feathered friends survive the winter. These seeds are light and can blow to the ground quickly, so make sure the bird feeder you are using holds the seeds securely. Nyjer seeds are preferred by purple finches, goldfinches, pine siskins, quail, and redpoll.
Millet is a tiny white seed commonly used in birdseed. It is preferred by sparrows, quail, doves, juncos, wild turkeys, and buntings.
Safflower seeds have a thick and robust shell that can only be eaten by larger birds with strong bills. This is a popular seed for bird feeders because squirrels don’t particularly like them. safflower seed is preferred by nuthatches, cardinals, woodpeckers, jays, and house finches.
Cracked corn is not suitable for smaller birds but is preferred by sparrows, towhees, jays, grouse, doves, quail, grackles, blackbirds, wild turkeys, and ducks. This is better used sprinkled on the ground, as it is preferred by ground-feeding birds.
Milo is a large red seed that is often used as a cheap filler. Some birds do eat it, but not many, so avoid this seed unless you are explicitly feeding ducks, doves, quail, grouse, or wild turkeys.
When choosing a blend with different seeds, select a larger proportion of popular seeds, such as millet or sunflower. Lower quality mixes often have more fillers like cracked corn, milo, oats, wheat, or other grains that aren’t as popular with birds.
There are several things to look out for when making sure the seeds are fresh. Fresh seeds will not have empty hulls, excessive dust, or inedible debris in the mix. Also, search the seeds for any sign of mildew, mold, or insect infestation. Signs of an insect infestation are clumps, worms, webbing, feces, and moths.
Buy in bulk
Buying in bulk can save you money. However, you should buy a smaller pack first to ensure you are happy with the quality. Only purchase the amount of seed you can feed to your birds before it becomes stale or spoiled.
Some pesticides and insecticides can be toxic to birds. Only buy birdseed that has not been triaged with pesticides or insecticides.
Bird seed price range
Birdseed can range in price from as little as $2 and as much as $250 when buying in bulk.
How we choose our bird seeds
We consider numerous things when it comes to picking bird seeds for our list of recommendations. For example, we think of factors like ingredients, customer reviews, and value for money. But rest assured, we’ll only suggest bird seeds that’ll make your garden a massive hit with the local birds.
Wagner’s 62059 Bird Food is available in a 6 pound or 16-pound bag. It is suitable for all breed sizes of birds. Using this feed will attract a variety of songbirds to your garden. This bag contains 11 different ingredients, which means a great variety of vitamins, minerals, and fats for your feathery friends. In addition, it has 40% sunflower seeds, which birds adore. You can place the seeds in a hopper, tube, or platform feeders. Use this high-quality blend to attract life to your garden and make your outdoor space flourish.
Good mix of seeds
Mostly sunflower seeds – known to attract the widest variety of birds
Some bags contain twigs that you may want to pick out.
Lyric Wild Bird Seed is available in three sizes, including 4.5lbs, 20lbs, and 40lbs. This product is specially made for feeding wild birds. This bird seed contains a healthy mix with three nuts, seven seeds, cracked corn, and sunflower kernels. Each pack contains over 50% of nuts and sunflower seeds. You can expect this product to attract a wide variety of wild birds to your garden or yard. This mix contains all-natural, high-quality, hand-crafted ingredients with no fillers. This bird feed attracts finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, nuthatches, doves, cardinals, jays, juncos, and many more.
Wild Delight 366200 is a bird food made from nuts, berries, and seeds. It is available in three sizes, including 5lbs, 13oz, and 201bs. This bird food also contains a good selection of various dried fruits, and vitamins, all of which are intended to keep the birds that visit your garden happy and healthy. Wild Delight 366200 Bird Food attracts songbirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, finches, jays, titmice, grosbeaks, nuthatches, buntings, and chickadees.
Attracts a wide variety of birds
Full of vitamins
Sunflower seed is the largest ingredient
You may find that the large nuts that clog up bird feeders aren’t eaten by many of the birds that visit your garden.
Kaytee Wild Bird Black Oil Sunflower Food is available in 5lbs or 20lbs. This product is made from seeds with thin hulls, which make the mix easier to eat for small birds. Use this product to attract small birds, or mix it with different seeds to draw larger breeds. The high oil content of this bird feed grants the birds a lot of energy to keep them going through winter. The ingredients in this product are simple – oil and sunflower seed.
Made from sunflower seed, the most popular seed for a variety of birds
Small hulls mean it is easier for more birds to eat and less waste
Some twigs and sticks were found in the package amongst the seeds.
Wild Harvest A1203 Blend is for small birds, including parakeets, finches, canaries, and other small birds. This product contains various seeds that small birds love, including canary grass seed, canola seed, Nyjer seed, and flaxseed. So you know you are giving your feathered friends a good chance in life by feeding them this high-quality vitamin and mineral fortified bird feed.
Perfect for small birds
Fortified with vitamins and minerals
You can use this to feed a pet bird as well as wild birds.
To attract a larger variety of birds, you will need to mix larger seeds such as sunflower seeds with this mix.
Meadow Ridge Farms Black Oil Sunflower Bird Seed is available in 10lb, 20lb, or 40lb bags. This product contains 100% black oil sunflower seeds. Black Oil Sunflower seed attracts a variety of birds including black-capped chickadee, house sparrow, house finch, dark-eyed junco, purple finch, northern cardinal, white-breasted nuthatch, blue jay, red-breasted nuthatch, rose-breasted grosbeak, common redpoll, pine grosbeak, mourning dove, evening grosbeak, downy woodpecker, white-crowned sparrow, rock dove (pigeon), gray jay (whiskey jack), and grackles.
Made from 100% black oil sunflower seeds, which birds love
Attracts a wide variety of birds
It contains a few dried stalks you may want to pick out before putting them into your feeder
Shoen Farm Sunflower Kernels and Chips are available in a 5lb bag. If you buy this product, you are supporting a small family-run business. The kernels used in this product are made from premium striped sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds offer a lot of nutrition to birds. This product will attract various small birds into your garden, including grosbeaks, cardinals, woodpeckers, blue jays, and many other wild birds. These seeds will fit into multiple bird feeders, so you can buy this product in confidence that it is suitable for your garden and your feathered visitors.
Birds love sunflower seeds, and this product is purely sunflower seeds
Buying this will support a small family-run farm
Attracts a variety of birds
Although this product claims to be suitable for small birds, smaller birds struggle to eat the kernels, but larger birds like crows love them.
Bird Seed FAQ
Q: How many seeds do birds eat in a day?
A: How much a bird eats in a day depends on its size. On average, birds eat approximately ¼ to ½ of their body weight. For example, a bird weighing 4lb would eat between 1lb and 2lb its weight in seeds. A bird will need to eat more in winter as it burns off more calories during colder months.
Q: How much does a bird drink during the day?
A: A wild bird needs to drink at least twice a day—more during warm weather. So make sure you provide birds with water using a birdbath in both summer and winter. During dry winters, birds can struggle to find a water source as much as during hot, dry summers.
Q: Can you feed birds anything else?
A: As well as all the ingredients on our list, you can also feed birds dried fruit such as raisins, sultanas, and currents. They also like mild grated cheese and various worms, which you can purchase from pet stores.
The Garden Gate Review Team’s product reviews and in-depth guides are here to help you choose the best products for a beautiful and bountiful garden and backyard. The content is created by The Garden Gate Review Team. Garden Gate’s editorial staff is not involved. Garden Gate is reader-supported: When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.