It is estimated that there are forty-six million birdwatchers in the United States alone,
and that fifty-four million people put up birdfeeders every year. Choosing the right seed
types has a huge impact on the types as well as the number of bird species that will visit
your feeders. By examining three seed types commonly used in bird feeding, thistle,
safflower, and black-oil sunflower seed, we will determine which is best for attracting the
widest variety of bird species to your bird feeders.
Thistle seed is a common, but expensive, seed used in bird feeding. Thistle is not eaten
by many bird species, but it is a favorite of finches and buntings. One drawback is that
thistle must be displayed in a special type of bird feeder designed specially for thistle
seed. The most common option is called a finch feeder. Finch feeders are small plastic
tubular feeders with small feeding ports to ensure that the tiny thistle seeds do not spill
out. The second type is called a finch sock. Finch socks are small mesh sacks that hang
from trees. The seeds are then pulled out of the bag through tiny holes in the sack. The
unpopularity among most bird species and the special feeders needed for thistle seed
show that thistle would not be the best choice of seed to use.
Safflower is another common seed type used in bird feeding. It also is quite pricey, but
will be eaten only by a small number of birds. Though Northern Cardinals are quite fond
of safflower seed, and probably the most common bird to eat it, it won’t be eaten by
many species. This is because safflower seed has an exquisite taste, and many smaller
bird species like juncos, sparrow species, and chickadees do not like it. It can, however,
be displayed in general bird feeder types, and does not require a special feeder type.
Safflower, then, is probably not the best choice for bird feeding. It is liked by few
species, and is somewhat expensive.
Black-oil sunflower seed is probably the most common type of seed used by discerning
bird feeders, and will be eaten by a wide variety of bird species. It is a favorite among
chickadees, nuthatches, finches, cardinals, sparrows, woodpeckers and more. Black-oil sunflower
seed is not very expensive, and can be displayed in a wide variety of bird
feeder types. It can be displayed in tube, hopper, platform, or tray feeders. It is probably
the most widely-accepted seed type that can be used. Its high fat and oil content keep the
birds coming back because it keeps them full of energy.
We can now see what the best seed choice for bird feeding would be now that we have
compared both the variety of birds that will eat the seed types, and the easiness of
displaying it in bird feeders. Black-oil sunflower seed is eaten by a wide variety of birds,
is fairly inexpensive, and is very easy to display in a wide variety of bird feeders. It
would be a worthwhile investment for anyone looking to attract a wide variety of bird
species at little cost and ease of use.