Backyard Chirper

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Birds hate cheap birdseed so avoid mixed-seed bargain bags

From the headline, you might think that birds are overdramatic and picky teenagers who don’t like something because it’s not name-brand. Unfortunately, that’s true to a certain extent.

According to an article by John Hannan, an Audubon’s Director of Development in Conn., even though it’s tempting to buy the cheapest bag of birdseed, much of it ends up going to waste because birds don’t like cheap birdseed.

Here’s what Hannan said:

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.

As I already reported, black-oil sunflower seed prices are already extremely high, so it’s understandable why you’d want to get the cheap stuff, but like Hannan said, the contents are not appealing to most birds.

Black-oil sunflower seeds are still the best choice for bird feeders because they are high in calories, which provides birds with energy and fat reserves for long migrations or cold winters. Nyger seed or thistle is an alternative to the pricey seed, but it appeals more to birds with smaller beaks, such as goldfinches and chickadees.

If you’re finding it difficult to keep up with the growing expenses of refilling your feeders, just remember that feeding birds leads to a “happy and generous feeling” that keeps your connected with nature.

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.


  1. […] recently wrote about how birds can recognize (and ultimately despise) cheap birdseed because it’s filled with corn and millet, which many birds simply don’t like. If […]

  2. […] lawn. They might be protesting and throwing their food on the ground. As I’ve written before, birds are pretty picky when it comes to the type of seed they eat. Birds particularly dislike those mixed-seed bargain […]

  3. […] 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 […]

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