Homemade Bird Seed: Tips for DIY Seed Mixes

Save money and make your own homemade birdseed blend to attract more birds, like cardinals and chickadees, to your backyard.

How to Make Your Own Homemade Bird Seed Mix

homemade birdseedPhoto by Kathy Jenkins
Providing different seed blends will attract chickadees, goldfinches and more.

1. Don’t Attract Unwanted Guests

Inexpensive store-bought seed blends can occasionally attract pesky visitors. They might contain red millet (white proso millet is a better option), wheat or other grain products that are typically used as filler. Avoid those things when creating your own homemade bird seed mix and stick with quality seeds and foods.

2. Do Buy Seed in Bulk

If you know you’re going to use a lot of sunflower seeds or safflower seeds while creating your homemade bird seed mix, buy the supplies in bulk. Big-box stores are great places to stock up and get a decent deal.

3. Don’t Create a Mess

There are certain types of seed that are messier than others. Red millet, for example, often gets tossed to the ground by common songbirds, creating an even bigger mess than usual under your feeders. Even though sparrows, doves and cardinals eat millet, it might be a good idea to skip it when customizing your own birdseed.

Psst—avoid these 9 foods you should never feed to birds.

4. Do Create Fun Shapes

Combine your homemade seed mix with unflavored gelatin and water, spread it on a cookie sheet and let it chill. Then, form it into shapes like wreaths, stars, hearts or whatever cookie cutters you’ve got on hand. Learn how to make your own bird seed ornaments.

5. Do Experiment

Watch the birds at your feeders and take note of what they’re eating or what they’re tossing to the ground. Experiment with different blends and foods from the kitchen. For example, try adding softened raisins or dried cranberries to see if you attract a new species. Eventually, you’ll find a couple of winning combinations that your backyard birds will love.

Discover 10 foods you aren’t feeding birds yet.

Keep Your Seed Mix Fresh

Regardless of whether you make or buy seed, store any bulk mixes in a tightly sealed, cool, dark place.

Reader Share Homemade Bird Seed Tips

homemade birdseedCourtesy John Pizniur
A downy woodpecker on a bird feeder filled with a seed mix

Our Birds & Blooms field editors share their no-fail mixes.

For a super simple seed combo, just incorporate black oil sunflower seed with cracked corn and plenty of peanuts.” — Tiffany Ertle, Homosassa, Florida

“This blend attracts so many birds—cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, goldfinches and more! I combine safflower seeds, sunflower seeds, thistle, nuts, raisins and lastly, dried cranberries.” — Kathy Lorigan, Easton, Pennsylvania

“I buy cracked corn and black oil sunflower seed in bulk, store it in large plastic containers and then use an auger to mix the two seeds together as we need it. This saves money and we only have to pay for the seed we want to serve the birds.” — Kathy Eppers, Aledo, Texas

Lori Vanover
Lori has 20 years of experience writing and editing home, garden, birding and lifestyle content for several publishers. As Birds & Blooms senior digital editor, she leads a team of writers and editors sharing birding tips and expert gardening advice. Since joining Trusted Media Brands 13 years ago, she has held roles in digital and print, editing magazines and books, curating special interest publications, managing social media accounts, creating digital content and newsletters, and working with the Field Editors—Birds & Blooms network of more than 50 backyard birders. Passionate about animals and nature, Lori has a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural and Environmental Communications from the University of Illinois. In 2023, she became certified as a Wisconsin Extension Master Gardener, and she is a member of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and sits on the organization's Publications Advisory Committee. She frequently checks on her bird feeders while working from home and tests new varieties of perennials, herbs and vegetable plants in her ever-growing backyard gardens.