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Bird Myths: Bags of Mixed Seed is Bad for Birds

mixed birdseed
A while back, I wrote a post based on some comments made by Audubon’s Director of Development in Conn. The gist of his comment was that cheap bags of mixed seed are not great for birds because they won’t eat much of it.

However, some people now have the wrong idea that bags of mixed seed are not only wasteful but also bad for birds. We’re here to bust that myth.

The truth is that bags of mixed can be an excellent option for birds, as long as you know exactly what you’re buying.

Avoid the cheap stuff

Since birds can be picky, those bargain bags of mixed bird seeds tend to be packed with filler seed. That means a vast majority of the seed will end up wasted on the ground, attracting a variety of unwanted critters and pests.

Again, here’s what director John Hannan said about cheap mixed seed:

Low-cost bags of mixed seeds use more filler, just as in hot dogs and chopped meat. Doves eat white millet and turkeys eat cracked corn, but all birds usually ignore red millet, milo oats and wheat. They instinctively know what is best for them, and peck out the filler. If you buy cheaper brands, expect to see half of it on the ground, feeding voles and mice. Some cheap discount brands might even contain stones.

6_415535Yes, we know that birdseed can be expensive, but the sad truth is that the cheap birdseed mixes will usually go to waste.

What to look for

Now that you know red millet, oats, and wheat are to be avoided, you’re probably wondering what it is you should look for. According to Bill Thompson III, good bags of mixed seed will have a fair amount of sunflower seeds, cracked corn, and white pros millet. It might even have some peanut hearts in it. Something like Cole’s Wild Bird Products Blue Ribbon Mix would work.

If you wanted, you could even make your own bag of mixed seed that birds will love. Just make sure you’re getting some stuff that birds will actually eat.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.