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How to Choose Bird Seed

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How to Choose Bird Seed

When it comes to feeding your garden birds, there’s an incredible selection of bird seed to choose from. Each blend has its own recipe and ingredients. Here are a few of the most common bird seed ingredients you’ll come across and the birds that like to eat them:

Niger Seeds
Niger seeds are small and black and have a high oil content. Goldfinches, siskins, greenfinches, nuthatches, sparrows and tits are all regularly seen tucking into niger seed. However, because niger seeds are so small, a special niger seed bird feeder is required.

Sunflower Seeds
Sunflower seeds are enjoyed by blackbirds, blue tits, chaffinches, goldfinches, greenfinches and house sparrows. They have a high oil and fat content, making them a great food source throughout the whole of the year.

Chopped Peanuts
Tits and greenfinches love to eat peanuts. Robins, dunnocks and wrens are also partial to them. Peanuts in a seed mix should be little more than granules. If you’re choosing a whole peanut bird feed, it’s important to put it in a dedicated peanut feeder, which will prevent birds from choking on bigger chunks of nut.

Safflower Seeds
Because of their hard outer shell, safflower seeds are preferred by birds with a strong beak, such as the house finch. Squirrels don’t like safflower seeds so they’re a good option if you’re trying to deter these animals from your bird feeders.

Millet Seeds
Millet seeds are a favourite amongst doves, dunnocks, finches and sparrows. These seeds are lower in fat than some other varieties. But they are very nutritious, containing high levels of protein. And they’re easy to digest too.

Flaked Maize
Blackbirds and robins love flaked maize. It has the highest oil and energy content of all cereals and it’s perfect for feeding trays.


Why is it important to choose quality bird seed?
The quality of a bird seed depends on the ingredients used. The best seed mixes contain plenty of sunflower seeds, peanuts and flaked maize.  

Cheaper, lower quality bird seeds contain a lot of “filler”. These are seeds and grains, like wheat, dried rice and lentils. This filler content attracts bigger birds, such as rooks and jackdaws, but is often bypassed by smaller birds.

Low quality feed may even include dog biscuits that you’ll see as pink or green lumps in the mix. These are only edible to birds when soaked so should definitely be avoided.


Choosing the best quality bird seed allows you to provide a nutritious meal for your garden birds. It will also see them returning again and again for another tasty treat.

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  • Nikki Boxwild