The food you provide is more important than feeder design in determining the success of your feeder station, both in terms of numbers and species of birds you attract.

Seeds may be purchased by an individual variety or in a mixed form. What and how you buy will depend on the number of factors such as bird feeding goals, cost and availability. Many of the seeds commonly found in commercial mixes such as millets, oats, rice and wheat are relatively unattractive to most birds. These mixes may be cheaper, but you will attract as many or more birds with preferred seeds. This does not mean that unattractive seeds will not be eaten, but preferred seed will be eaten first and tend to attract birds that might not otherwise visit a feeder. Niger seeds, sunflower hearts (hulled sunflower), safflower and fine cracked corn are useful in attracting the more popular species. It is also important to provide a water source which is a very important element in a bird’s survival. There are many types of watering stations available commercially although, a heat element would be necessary to avoid the water of freezing.

Here is a guide to help you determine what is best for the birds in your area.


Wild Bird Feed & Bird Feeder Guide

Selecting the right food for the right feeder for the right bird





Northern Cardinal Sunflower, safflower, peanuts, insects, cracked corn, white millet, melon seeds, raisins, banana. Ground, platform or hopper feeders, tube feeder with a tray.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak Sunflower, safflower, grape jelly, sugar water, insects, peanuts, raisins. Platform, hopper or tube feeders with perches & trays.
Indigo Bunting White millet, chopped peanuts, pecan meats, insects, thistle. Ground, platform, or hopper feeders.
Evening Grosbeak Sunflower, safflower, insects, apple seed, peanuts, melon seeds. Platform, hopper or tube feeders.
Pine Grosbeak Mountain ash berries, cranberries, pine seeds, sunflower, apple slices, samaras of ash & maple tree, insects. Ground or platform feeder out in the open.
Purple Finch Sunflower, safflower, thistle, insects, peanuts, suet mixtures, white millet. High hanging platform, hopper or tube feeder.
House Finch Sunflower, thistle, white millet, fruits, nutmeats, insects, suet & suet mixtures. Ground, hopper, thistle, tube or window feeder.
Common Redpoll Sunflower hearts, thistle, suet, insects. Ground, platform, hopper, tube, thistle & window feeder.
Pine Siskin Thistle, sunflower hearts, white millet, insects, ashes, salt. Platform, tube, thistle or window feeder.
American Goldfinch Thistle, sunflower hearts, sunflower, insects, weed seeds, cracked nutmeats. Platform, hopper, thistle, tube & window feeder.
White-winged & Red Crossbill Sunflower, thistle, nutmeats, pine seeds, insects, salt. Ground, platform, thistle & tube feeder.
Rufous-sided Towhee Sunflower, white millet, thistle, grapes, insects, suet & suet mixtures. Ground or low platform feeder near brush or brush pile.
Dark-eyed Junco White millet, cracked corn, sunflower hearts, insects, peanuts. Ground or low platform feeder.
American Tree Sparrow Sunflower hearts, white millet, insects, cracked corn. Ground, platform or tube feeder with tray.
Chipping Sparrow Insects, sunflower hearts, peanut hearts, grass seed, white millet. Ground or low platform feeder.
White-throated/White-crowned Sparrow White millet, cracked corn, sunflower hearts, thistle, insects, peanut hearts. Ground platform or tube feeder with tray.
Fox Sparrow Sunflower, white millet, suet, cracked corn, insects. Ground feeder.
Song Sparrow Sunflower, white millet, thistle, peanut hearts, walnut meats, insects. Ground or low platform feeder.
Snow Bunting Oat, groats, cracked corn, white millet, insects. Ground feeder out in the open.
Ring-necked Pheasant Corn, sunflower, safflower, oats, groats, insects. Throw feed on the ground. Clear area of snow.
Duck & Geese (Mallard, Wood Duck, Canada Goose) Corn, acorns, pond weeds, insects. Throw feed on the ground.
Purple Martin, Tree & Barn Swallow Flying insects, chicken egg shells (crushed). Ground feeder.
Mourning Dove Cracked corn, white millet, safflower, thistle. Ground, platform or hopper feeder.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird Flower nectar, insects, sugar water (4 parts water & 1 part sugar). Hanging & window hummingbird feeders.
Northern Flicker Suet, fat mixtures, meat scraps, ants, cracked walnuts & pecans, orange & apple slices, corn, cherries, grapes. Suet, log or hanging feeder.
Pileated Woodpecker Suet & suet mixtures, peanuts, cracked corn, insects, ants. Suet or platform feeder.
Red-bellied Woodpecker Suet & suet mixtures, raisins, cracked corn, peanuts, sunflower, orange & apple slices, sugar water, insects. Suet, platform, hopper, log or hummingbird feeder.