Facts about Bird Food

Facts about Bird Food

Why do the prices change on some of the bird seed mixes?
Bird seed is a commodity, and commodity prices fluctuate. Supply and demand will dictate whether the price goes up or down. The demand may be high, but if drought conditions yielded a poor crop, prices will rise sharply. Since 2010, we have experienced higher prices because more corn, and less sunflower, has been planted to meet the ethanol demand. Also, a bigger demand for the refined oil extracted from the sunflower seed has left less for the bird feeding industry. About half of the refined sunflower oil is now being exported. Trucking costs have contributed to higher prices also.

Is there a big difference in bird seed mixes?
Just as people do, different birds have favorite things that they love to eat. As backyard enthusiasts, we want to see the beautiful birds come into our yard. Not all seed mixes are equal. Providing a higher quality bird seed will give your birds more nutritional value. Bird seed blends that contain a large amount of cracked corn or milo is no bargain. The birds pick through it and push those seeds to the ground while searching for sunflower, nutrasaff, millet, nyjer or nuts. The cheap blends will include a small amount of the seed that birds love, with the balance being filler. Locally blended seed mixes are much fresher than the big box store blends. Older mixes are more likely to have meal moth infestation. In the end, you get more for your money by buying seeds the birds will eat and fulfill their nutritional needs. The cheaper mixes also contain dirt, sticks and grains, things the birds won’t and shouldn’t eat.

What is the most popular bird seed?
Black oil sunflower seed is the most common choice to attract a variety of backyard birds to your yard. Most of the birdseed blends include some sunflower, either in its black shell or hulled kernels and chips. Sunflower seed is grown mostly in the northern plains of the Dakotas to the panhandle of Texas.

Nyjer is the most popular seed for goldfinches. It is the only ingredient in bird seed mixes that is 100 percent imported. Most of the nyjer seed is grown in India. The cost of transportation is a big part of the price of nyjer seed.

Nutrasaff and safflower is the number one favorite of cardinals. The great part of this seed is that squirrels, starlings and grackles won’t eat it. Nutrasaff will also attract many species of birds that like black oil sunflower.

Peanuts have a high oil and fat content that converts easily to body heat. Peanuts can be added to a mix or fed separately in a feeder. Woodpeckers, nuthatches and blue jays love peanuts, either whole or shelled.

Millet is a favorite seed of ground feeding birds like juncos, indigo buntings, sparrows and doves. You may see other birds sorting through the mix in the feeder and kicking the millet to the ground. This is exactly what is meant to happen. Some people like to buy just millet and put it in a ground feeder.

Suet is popular and offers the birds a quick source of energy that is critical for their survival, especially in the winter. Suet contains beef fat which helps them keep warm. There are many different types of suet that contain insects, nuts, hot pepper (to keep the squirrels away), and other ingredients to keep the birds coming back. Use suet to attract woodpeckers, nuthatches, chickadees, bluebirds and more!

Cheap bird seed is no bargain!