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New to backyard feeders, need seed advice. (1 Viewer)

KingDingbat

New member
Hi there!
I'm relatively new to backyard bird feeding and need some advice. I live in Los Angeles, California if that matters.

A couple months ago, on a whim I purchased a tube feeder and a bag of mixed seed at Home Depot that was on clearance. It was Wagner's Western Regional Blend. I was really pleased with the birds this attracted and there were lots of species fighting over my little single feeder. I couldn't tell you exactly what species they were as I wasn't paying that close attention, but they were decent variety. It included some yellow and black finches, sparrows, doves, and a couple of larger birds.

So I bought a second feeder and because that original mix was on clearance and not available anymore, I ordered a huge bag of Katee Supreme from Amazon. To my dismay, this seed attracted countless brown finches and sparrows, all of the other species disappeared completely and my feeders were literally overwhelmed with brown finches and sparrows. We're talking at least 40-50 birds at once! Now, I don't discriminate. I like them all, but these birds weren't having it. All they did was violently thrash their faces in the feeder dumping all of the seed on the ground! I was going through a total of 8lbs of seed a day, all just dumped on the ground.

So I did some reading and learned it was probably the mix and that they didn't like it and were digging through to find good stuff, which probably was very little. I also realized that I had two different kind of feeders. The first one where I didn't have this problem had the little feeding holes where they stick their beak in, and the new one was one with a large tray that the seed pours out into, so I thought that buying more feeders of the original type would help, because they basically can't thrash their faces back and forth in it. I was mistaken. :)

Anyway, after some research, I decided to make my "Own blend" hoping to attract the variety of birds that I originally saw back to the feeders.

I ordered Black Oil Sunflower, Nyjer, and Mealworms and mixed them together with what was left of the Katee mixthis resulted in a mix that was probably 30% nyjer, 30% black oil sunflower, 30% mealworm and 10% the rest of the leftover mix.

It only made the problem worse. They still waste 90% of the feed, even with the new feeders, and it's still 100% brown finches and sparrows in huge numbers. Although, now that I've stopped refilling the feeders themselves, they are picking through what they've dumped on the ground. Although on the previous filling, I did fill one of the feeders with ONLY Nyjer so they are on that, and going through it very slowly.

At this point, I'm not to concerned about who's eating at the feeders (although I would enjoy seeing the little yellow finches again. I don't know what happened to them.) I'm more concerned with fixing the waste problem. I literally can't afford to keep feeding them 8 lbs of seed a day.

My next idea is to stop blending the seed altogether and putting single types of seed in separate feeders, including one of just sunflower seeds (both black oil and striped blended?) so that they don't have to pick through what they don't want to eat what the do want.

Any other suggestions on types of seed to include that would attract a variety? I read that millet and safflower are generally cheap filler seed that gets wasted, so I haven't wanted to include that. Thoughts? I thought they'd go crazy over the mealworms but I haven't even seen anyone eat them at all. I think my dogs eat them off the ground more than the birds lol.
 
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snowyowl

Well-known member
My first thought would be to stop buying seed mixes, particularly cheap ones, because most of them contain a lot of fill that adds to the bulk of what you are paying for but most birds won't eat. All that you really need to feed are Black-oil Sunflower seeds. Almost all species eat them. If you want to expand your feeders then nyger seed would be my other recommendation. The nyger should be fed using a tube feeder with small openings. They are designed specifically for nyger or similare feed. You can buy nyger in "socks" that can be hung out just as they come. I don't like the socks because I have seen birds with their claws caught in the fabric. In my experience, cheap seed mixes attract a lot of House Sparrows and Rock Doves.
Save your money and don't buy freeze-dried mealworms. The few birds that will eat them don't come to feeders that much. The exception is if you have orioles in your area, they will eat the mealworms but they should be fed in seperate dishes not mixed in to seed. Suet is another standard bird food. Buy a wire feeder designed to hold a block of suet. The suet can be bought anywhere where bird seed is sold. I prefer the all-season type. Suet attracts birds like woodpeckers, chickadees and nuthatches. A lot of my birds, Blue Jays, grackles and blackbirds also like suet.
I hope this is some help.
 

KC Foggin

Super Moderator
Staff member
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I agree with everything Dan said and definitely avoid the mixed seed type.

Hi there and a warm welcome to you from those of us on staff here at BirdForum :t:

We're glad you found us and thanks for taking a moment to say hello. Please join in wherever you like ;)
 

KingDingbat

New member
Thanks

Thanks to the both of you for your advice! Is it worth mixing BO Sunflower with striped sunflower, or just black oil? I read somewhere (dangerous words, I know.) certain birds have preferences to one or the other.

Now I need to decide what to do with the remaining 20lbs of the blend I made myself. LOL Perhaps I'll just put it in the birdbath and hope they don't throw it outside too far. 3:)

Thanks again for your help! (and welcome!)
 
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KC Foggin

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Staff member
Opus Editor
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United States
I've tried using the striped for a while but the food lasted a lot longer than the black-oiled sunflower seeds, so I realized the BOSS (black oiled sunflower seeds) was much more popular with the birds.
 

snowyowl

Well-known member
I have been feeding birds for about 40 years and at various times I have tried feeding striped and black oil at the same time but in seperate feedeers and the black oil was easily the most popular.
 

keithdog

Active member
Hello. Good advice so far. I am lucky in that there is a feed store nearby me that makes their own mixes and they do a great job. Their no mess seed is a real winner here. But if you want to make your own mix, I would include black oiler sunflower, peanuts or peanut pieces, fine cracked corn, white millet, stay away from the red, a few striped sunflower seeds, my jays love them, and that's about it. I do feed dried meal worms which are in their own hanging basket type feeder and the blue bird love them!!! Some times 8-10 blue birds at a time chowing on the meal worms in the winter. My nyger seed is in it's own specialty hanging feeder as well. I don't put out suet in the summer as the birds will also eat plenty of their native diet in the summer months, such as bugs and worms. But I definitely add it as soon as late fall arrives. Hope this helps. Oh, one thing I might add. I have never ever ever had any luck feeding safflower seed to any bird. I know you see it in many mixes, especially cardinal mixes. I have talked to those who tell me it is attractive to birds. My own experience is that none of my birds want anything to do with it. Maybe it's just here. My gray squirrels won't eat corn either! LOL
 
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KingDingbat

New member
Thanks for all your advice guys! It's been really helpful!
I can't use suet, I don't think, because we live in Southern California where it is super hot all the time and I think it would just melt all over. (Its over 100 degrees today, which is about normal lol)

Going to stick with BOSS and the rest of my Nyjer :)
 

snowyowl

Well-known member
They do have no melt suet so give it a try.
Usually labelled "All Season".
If you want to make up a seed mix, go for it but it really isn't necessary. I doubt if it will attract any extra species. BOS, niger and suet are really all that you need. A water source will help to attract more variety. In Florida, for example, I have several Gray Catbirds that come everyday for a bath but would never go to a feeder.
I've never had any success with mealworms but I have some out at the moment. We don't get orioles or bluebirds here regularly only occasional strays. I have mealworms and grape jelly and a orange out because I think both orioles and bluebirds are expanding their ranges and I'm hoping to get lucky. I would really like to try those same items next winter in Florida but we have a bear problem and I am concerned that the sweets might bring unwanted visiters. I might try it in Jan. and Feb. when the ears are pretty much dormant.
 
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