Finches, cardinals, jays and chickadees – what do all these wild birds have in common?
They all eat sunflower seeds!
As one of the most popular types of wild bird feed seed, sunflower seeds are a highly versatile source of nutrition among wild birds around the world. Many people have a working knowledge of sunflower seeds, but usually only to the extent that they know that wild birds love them. But have you wondered why? Or have you been curious about the different types of sunflower seeds?
There are many frequently asked questions about feeding birds sunflower seeds. We’ll break down some of them for you here so you can be more informed when feeding your backyard birds this type of wild bird feed.
Why do birds love sunflower seeds?
High in essential fatty acids (Omega 3s and Omega 6s), protein, calcium, vitamins A/B/C/D, iron, magnesium, and potassium, sunflower seeds give wild birds a compact and convenient source of nutrition and energy. Depending on the type of sunflower seed, their shells are also relatively thin, which makes it easy for even small birds to crack open and access their kernels.
Which birds eat sunflower seeds?
A wide variety of wild birds eat sunflower seeds, which makes this bird food a go-to for birders looking to fill their backyard bird feeders. Just some of them include:
Are there different types of sunflower seeds?
Yes! There are three types of sunflower seeds:
Also known as “oilers,” black oil sunflower seeds have thin shells that make them easy for all seed-eating birds to eat.
The thicker shell of striped sunflower seeds tends to deter smaller birds from eating them, which can be good for birders attempting to attract larger birds like cardinals and grosbeaks. That being said, Chickadee, Nuthatch, and Titmice will tear into a striped sunflower seed with no problems. Finches and wrens are the small species that will mostly not favor them.
Hulled sunflower seeds.
Also known as sunflower hearts, hulled sunflower seeds are simply sunflower seeds that have already been shelled. These are one of the ultimate no-mess wild bird foods.
What is the best type of sunflower seed for birds?
There’s no single type of sunflower seed that is best for all birds. The majority of seed-eaters will do well with black oil sunflower seeds. If you’re looking to attract finches, sparrows, chickadees, and nuthatches to your backyard, filling your feeders with black oil sunflower seeds or at least having a wild bird seed mix with sunflower seeds will do the trick.
Birders who want to encourage larger cardinals and grosbeaks may find success with striped sunflower seeds. Similarly, striped sunflower seeds will also discourage starlings, house sparrows, and cowbirds.
What are finely chopped sunflower hearts?
These smaller, chopped, not flaked sunflower hearts are best suited for small birds like finches and youths that cannot yet eat the bigger seeds but still like sunflowers as they crave the fat and protein.
What is the best way to feed birds sunflower seeds?
There are several ways to feed birds sunflower seeds. Hanging feeders, tube feeders, tray or hopper feeders will all work, as well as ground feeders. The only issue with tray feeders is that blackbirds, European starlings, and grackles may snatch up the seed before smaller birds have a chance to get to it. The way around this is to put sunflower seeds in “exclusion feeders” specifically designed for small birds.
What is the best time of year to feed birds sunflower seeds?
You can feed birds sunflower seeds year-round! Their minerals and vitamins are viable no matter the season. In fact, they’re especially important in the winter months to provide birds with a healthy source of fat to keep them warm in the cold.
Valley Farms® Chickadee Wild Bird Seed Mix has been rated one of our favorite specialty blends for its balanced mix of all three types of sunflower seeds. Many people say that they've consistently seen all their favorite birds visit just for this mix!
Most birds don't have a sense of smell but they seem to have an extra taste bud or two for these fine ingredients!
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