3 Types of Seeds Birds Love Best

Maximize the traffic at your feeders with popular seeds that keep birds coming back for more.

If you’ve just started trying to attract birds to your backyard, you may be unsure about what kind of seed you should pick for your backyard feeders (or even what feeder to start with!). Don’t worry! We’ve got you covered with these three basic seed types: nyjer, safflower and sunflower. What kind of seed you should set out depends on what kind of feeder you have and what types of birds you want to attract. Here’s what you need to know to make your backyard more inviting for hungry birds.

1. Nyjer


Lure finches and chickadees with nyjer, a tiny black seed that is sometimes called thistle. Bonus! Bully birds tend to leave nyjer alone.

2. Safflower


Serve safflower in a hopper feeder for cardinals, grosbeaks and house finches to devour. Remember: It may take a while for the birds to get acquainted with the seed.

3. Sunflower


This food deserves the No. 1 spot in your yard! Sunflower seeds, both in the shell and out-of-shell meats appeal to finches, chickadees, nuthatches, grosbeaks, cardinals, jays and even some woodpeckers. Because sunflower seeds are delicious to so many species, including some large undesirable birds, they’re best served in feeders that allow only small songbirds to perch on or enter the feeding chamber.

Now that you’ve picked the seed, it’s time to pick the right feeder!

Tray feeders are flat platforms that attract a variety of seed-eaters. Look for one with holes to allow rain or snow drainage.

Tube feeders are cylinders with mesh or plastic-coated wire screens. They’re great for small birds, such as finches, chickadees and nuthatches.

Hopper feeders have an enclosed reservoir for seeds that slides food down to the open feeding tray below. Plus, seed stays dry! Woodpeckers, grosbeaks and blue jays frequent these feeders.