Clayton, North Carolina

What Do Birds Want?

Different birds have their own favorite meals, but sunflower seeds are the most popular with seed-eaters, according to research by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. That’s important news for bird enthusiasts who want to attract a variety of wild birds to their backyard feeders. And, it explains why sunflower seed is the major ingredient in Wild Birds Unlimited seed mixes. There are a wide variety of seed mixes to choose from. But most mixes are not appealing to wild birds. The Wild Birds Unlimited Store Owners explain the difference between bargain-brand and commercial seeds and how to select seeds your wild birds want to eat:

Check the label first. Smart shoppers are used to checking the label when they buy food for their families these days. Birders should do the same when they buy seed mixes. If you want to attract a variety of birds to your feeders, stay away from bargain mixes that contain oats, cereals or “mixed grains.” Most wild birds shun these ingredients, and mixed grains are likely “filler.”

·         Avoid fillers. Bargain-brand bird seed mixes contain “filler” seeds that add weight to the bag, but end up in a pile under your bird feeder because—simply put—birds know what they like. Birds often sweep their bills through seed and dump the ones they don’t want on to the ground. Even ground-feeding birds might ignore the spilled seed.

·         Select “clean” bags of food. Most commercial seed is 94 to 95 percent clean. That might sound pretty clean, but such a 20-pound bag of seed may include over two pounds of inedible material—more debris that will find its way to the ground below your feeder.

Wild Birds Unlimited seed is 99 percent clean by weight. Vendors are required to sift the seed three times to remove empty shells, sticks, leaves and other debris commonly found in bargain seed bags. Unlike most bargain-brand seed, Wild Birds Unlimited seed is not sprayed with oil to keep dust down. And quality control insures that no “reclaimed” seed swept off the mill floor finds its way into a bag of Wild Birds Unlimited seed. All of our sees is certified organically grown, no pesticides are used. 

The Wild Birds Unlimited is a specialty retail shop located in Clayton, NC, offering a complete line of products to help residents enjoy wild birds and foster a healthy backyard habitat. Its top-quality birdseed and exclusive seed blends are field-tested and proven to attract a variety of birds. In addition to an extensive selection of feeders, birdbaths, nest boxes and other bird feeding products, the store offers a variety of nature-oriented gifts and books, and optics for spotting songbirds on the bird feeder or hawks migrating overhead.


Bird Feeding Chart




American Goldfinch

Thistle, hulled sunflower, sunflower, insects

Thistle feeder, window feeder, tube feeder, and hanging feeders

Black-capped Chickadee

Sunflower, safflower, suet, peanuts, some thistle

All types of feeders

Blue Jay

Whole corn, striped sunflower, peanuts with or without the shell

Prefers ground, but will come to seed and suet feeders

Dark-eyed Junco

White millet, cracked corn, hulled sunflower, peanuts

On ground or low tray feeders

Downy Woodpecker

Suet, peanuts, hulled sunflower, peanut butter, cracked corn

Suet feeders, peanut feeders and hanging log feeders

Evening Grosbeak

Sunflower, safflower, peanuts, apple seeds

High post feeders and high hanging feeders

Hairy Woodpecker

Suet, peanuts, hulled sunflower, peanut butter, cracked corn

Suet feeders, peanut feeders and hanging log feeders

House Finch

Sunflower, thistle, white millet, fruit, suet

Thistle feeders, tube feeders, and ground feeders

House Sparrow

White millet, cracked corn, hulled sunflower

On ground, low tray feeders, and tube feeders with trays

Mourning Dove

White millet, corn, safflower, rice, white bread

On ground, will come to low ground and tray feeders

Northern Cardinal

Sunflower, safflower, cracked corn, peanuts, white millet

On the ground, low tray feeders, and hopper feeders

Northern Flicker

Suet, ants, oranges, apple slices, corn, cherries, grapes

Suet feeders on tree trunks, and log suet feeders

Pileated Woodpecker

Suet, peanuts, cracked corn, ants, hamburger

Suet feeders and log suet feeders

Purple Finch

Sunflower, safflower, thistle, peanuts, suet, white millet

High hopper feeders, hanging feeders and tube feeders

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Suet, cracked corn, peanuts, sunflower, raisins, apple slices

Suet feeders, platform feeders, and post hopper feeders

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Sunflower, suet, peanuts, melon seeds, insects

Suet feeders, hanging feeders, and platform feeders

Tufted Titmouse

Sunflower, suet, cornbread, cookie crumbs, nutmeats

Small hanging feeders, log feeders, tray feeders, on ground

White-breasted Nuthatch

Sunflower, safflower, suet, peanuts, peanut butter

Suet feeders, ground feeders, hopper feeders, peanut feeders