Best Sunflower Seeds For Birds

Best Sunflower Seeds For Birds - Jay photoWhat are the best sunflower seeds for birds? You  might be thinking that is a stupid question. Does it really matter?  But, there are a couple of common varieties and there is a big difference with shells on or off. 

What should I Feed Birds?

Variety is the spice of life as they say and this holds true for wildlife.  The more varied diet you can provide the more varied and diverse the range of birds will be attracted to your garden. Sunflower seeds are highly nutritional and provide many birds with a high proportion of their daily needs.  So why should it matter which type of sunflower seed tou put on your bird. table?

Bird Seed – Sunflower seeds and sunflower hearts

Why are sunflower seeds good for birds?  – because they are packed with nutrients with:

  • A high fat content
  • A range of vitamins – A, B, C and D
  • Fibre
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium

The high fat content is significant in maintaining body weight, particularly for small birds such as finches and robins during colder months and those chilly nights. Fibre content for maintaining a healthy digestive tract and the other vitamins for general well being.

Striped sunflower seeds:

Striped sunflower seed
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These are the larger sunflower seed in husks and are quite tough to open for many species such as the Robin on bird tablesmaller birds and softbills. Many species are not equipped with bills that can extract the hearts from the husks.

As with all bird feed it is always better to buy in bulk.  Even though the initial outlay may seem expensive, when you work out the cost of feed per pound/kilo, bulk buying always pays off in the long run and it can work out at a third the price of small hand sized packets!

There are other disadvantages to your garden as birds tend to dehusk on the feeder or close by and leave a mess.  The husks also contain an allelopathic chemical which can directly affect other plants in the immediate vicinity, often producing bald patches on the lawn.

It is a chemical that can deter competition from other plants.  An example would be some specieas of pine which drop blankets of pine needles, which inhibit growth of other plant species under the tree, effectively eliminating competition for soil nutrients and light.

Bird Seed – Black oil sunflower seeds:

Black oil sunflower seed
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Smaller than the striped seeds and more manageable for smaller birds.  They contain the same nutrients at the striped sunflower seed but offer a food source to a greater range of smaller birds.  The same disadvantages exist with the mess that they make when dehusked in the garden.

Bird Seed – Sunflower hearts and chips:

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The best type of sunflower seeds for birds are dehusked sunflower hearts and chips.  It opens up this foodsource to most birds and there is virtually no mess or unwanted effercts on lawns and other plants from allelopathic chemicals.

The only other downside for all types of sunflower seed is that squirrels love them.  But then again, squirrels will love most food you put out for the birds!

Best Sunflower Seeds for Birrds – Conclusion

Three options – Striped shelled, black oil shelled and hearts & chips.  If you are not concerned about the mess and possibility of biological chemicals attacking your grass – go for the cheaper options but if you just want a safe clean feed for your garden birds and don’t mind paying a little, sunflower hearts  and chips may be the way to go!