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“Not all birdseed mixes are created equal,” says Stephen Kress, an ornithologist with the National Audubon Society. Instead of store-bought blends, which can be packed with cheap filler (like milo or oats) that most feeder birds reject, look for specialized food to lure specific birds to your yard.
This thistle seed imported from Africa and India is preferred by small finches. It can be on the pricey side.
Attracts: Common redpoll, goldfinch, pine siskin, song sparrow.
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Beloved by ground feeders, it is susceptible to rot when wet, so avoid the finely cracked type.
Attracts: Quail, ring-necked pheasant, mourning dove.
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Black Oil Sunflower
Valued for its high oil content, it has thinner shells than the striped kind.
Attracts: Nuthatch, black-capped chickadee, blue jay, purple finch.
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White Proso Millet
An inexpensive grain favored by ground-feeding birds. Use it in a hopper feeder.
Attracts: Eastern towhee, dark-eyed junco, painted bunting.
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Sometimes called cardinal bait. Bonus: It’s unsavory to gray squirrels, common feeder pests.
Attracts: Purple finch, cardinal, white-winged dove, evening grosbeak.
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Currants & Raisins
Soak the fruit in water overnight to soften it; add it to a table feeder or scatter it in an open area.
Attracts: American robin, bluebird, cedar waxwing.
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