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No Waste Bird Foods

Feeding birds can be an enjoyable hobby, but it can also be a messy one as layers of hulls and discarded seeds accumulate under feeders, on decks, and across patios. By choosing no waste bird foods, however, that mess can be avoided and the birds will enjoy every morsel of available food.

What Makes Bird Feeding Messy

Birds are naturally messy eaters, and feeding birds for a long time can lead to dirty feeders and messy ground beneath those feeders. Unappetizing seeds will be kicked out and discarded, and birds drop hulls as they feed. Discarded seed can mold and rot, or it may sprout beneath the bird feeder, leading to undesirable weeds or damaging turf. A messy feeding area can attract pests and may result in fines or other sanctions in HOA communities. Birders who choose no waste bird foods will avoid many of these problems while giving their birds the best, most nutritious foods.

Types of No Waste Bird Foods

No-waste bird food is a type of food that birds completely consume, with no leftover hulls or uneaten pieces. There are natural no waste foods, such as floral nectar, insects, small berries, small nuts, and crabapples that birds can swallow whole. Offering these natural foods is the ideal way to keep feeding areas clean and to economize a bird feeding budget.

For supplemental bird feeders, there is a wide variety of no waste, no mess options, including:

    hearts or chips (check ingredients to be sure there are no hulls in the blend)
  • Hulled millet
  • Shelled peanuts or orange marmalade (use only sparingly as rare “treats”)

These foods can be purchased individually or in specialized no waste or no mess seed blends, often with different compositions designed to attract different types of birds. While these no waste blends are more expensive than traditional birdseed, they can be a more economical option overall because birders are not paying for the weight of hulls or filler seeds birds will not eat.

Benefits of No Waste Foods

The most obvious benefit of no waste bird foods is that the birds are able to eat the entire quantity of food. This can mean feeders need less frequent refilling, and cleaning the feeders is easier because there is no need to remove unwanted debris. Because no waste birdseed has no hulls, the seeds are also unable to sprout and there will be no unintentional weeds or damage under the feeders. With less seed spilled to the ground, fewer feeder pests such as mice, rats, raccoons, squirrels, deer, and other animals will be attracted to the area.

Tips for Feeding No Waste Foods

Because no waste birdseed and other foods are typically more expensive than basic seed blends, it is important to feed them as economically as possible and to care for the seed so it is not wasted in other ways.

    so it will stay fresh and dry as long as possible, free from rodent or insect infestations. Storing birdseed in a freezer or refrigerator can ensure it stays fresh and is not contaminated by pests.
  • Use no waste birdseed on decks, balconies, patios, or other areas where mess is undesirable, but use less expensive seed elsewhere to lower the bird feeding budget and offer more feeding options for more birds.
  • Use platforms under feeders so any unintentional waste is minimized and larger birds can feed from the platform to clean up spillage. This will also create extra feeding space to accommodate flocks. with suitable placement and covers, since hulled seeds will spoil more quickly when wet. On rainy days, consider leaving feeders empty to avoid mildewed or damp seed.
  • Buy different no waste seeds and foods in bulk and create customized seed mixes rather than paying for expensive manufactured blends. This ensures the seeds offered are perfect for exactly the backyard birds that visit.
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No mess bird seed and other no waste bird foods are ideal choices for feeding birds and eliminating much of the mess that comes with bird feeding. By choosing these high-quality, desirable foods, birders can attract a wide range of birds to their feeders without needing to clean up after them.

Wild Bird Seed
For Your Bird Feeders

Commercial seed mixes that you find in your local supermarket aren’t usually the best for birds or your wallet.

Usually the ingredients consist of millet, sunflower seed and cracked corn.

Cheaper blends often include a larger proportion of filler seeds that birds will ignore and toss aside.

You can actually save money with a more expensive, richer mixture since there will be less filler waste and you will attract more birds.

Since mixes contain a lot of millet, if you remember, millet is preferred mostly by ground-feeding birds.

Therefore, if you put in in your hanging feeders, ground-feeders cannot access it and feeder birds will not eat it. So nobody’s happy.

Make Your Own Wild Bird Seed Mix

If you want a seed mix, make your own by blending black oil sunflower seed, white proso millet and cracked corn (2:1:1) or substitute the corn or millet with sunflower chips, striped sunflower seeds, Nyjer seed (thistle), etc..

Or experiment to attract the kind of birds you would like to see at your feeders base on their seed preferences.

Avoid Filler Seed

Try to make or buy seed mixes that do not have a lot of filler seed like milo and wheat which will be tossed aside by most birds and end up as weed seed in your grass if your feeder is placed over your lawn.

Milo (aka sorghum) is a red, round, thick-coated, low-fat "filler" seed found in birdseed mixes.

Birds typically won’t eat milo unless they’re hungry and nothing else is available.

It usually will be wasted as birds pick it out of mixes to get to better ingredients. Milo may attract unwanted cowbirds, starling, grackles, squirrels, rats.

Pest Birds or Squirrel Problem At Your Feeder?

You may want to try feeding your backyard birds safflower seed if you have trouble with squirrels at your feeders, and/or pest birds like starlings, grackles, which do not like safflower seeds.

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Make Wild Bird Seed Blocks

You can take your wild bird seed mix and create a seed block in any shape you desire.

The gelatin and corn syrup provides more protein and sugar calories for the birds. The block lasts long and there is little waste compared to offering loose seed. Plus, you can hang these up in places that your feeders aren’t and attract more birds as well as possibly different species.

The video below shows how to make an easy bird seed wreath for anytime of the year.

Wild Bird Food:
What Bird Seed and Other Foods Do Birds Prefer?

When it comes to wild bird food, there are lots of choices.

Different seeds as well as feeders will attract different bird species.

The more you know about which types of seed birds prefer, the better you will be able to attract the number and types of birds that visit your feeders.

And better yet, the better you will be able to keep away nuisance birds from your feeders such as starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds among others, unless you want them at your feeders.

Use the below wild bird food preference chart as a guideline and watch the video for more info about bird seed.

Wild Bird Seed Preferences of Common Feeder Birds

Species Sunflower Safflower Corn Millet Milo Nyjer Suet
Chickadees, Titmice, Nuthatches X X X
Finches X X X X
Cardinals, Grosbeaks X X
Sparrows, Blackbirds X X X
Jays X X X X
Woodpeckers X X
Orioles, Tanagers X
Pigeons, Doves X X X
Indigo Buntings X X X

How To Choose The Right Bird Seed For Your Bird Feeder

Below is a short video discussion below regarding use of wild bird seed mixes, black oil sunflower seeds, Nyjer thistle, safflower seeds and/or suet in your bird feeders.

When purchasing wild bird seed, try to buy seed that is as fresh as possible.

Some seed distributors work directly with farmers, grower co-ops and seed processors to deliver the freshest and most nutritious bird seed. This isn’t the cheap seed at your local discount store that been sitting in a warehouse, has lost most of its nutritional value and is full of "filler" seed that birds don’t like and pick through. In the long run, you save because there is less waste and even more importantly, it’s better for the birds.

Follow the below links to learn about different types of bird food and the kind of birds each will attract:

Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

We’ve got a whole page on how to make your own hummingbird nectar, much cheaper than store-bought and better for the hummingbirds without the artificial color.

Want to feed birds, not squirrels? This feeder is one of best squirrel proof feeders on the market.

Remember, you do have an ethical obligation not to jeopardize wild birds with your feeders. Follow the links below in order to provide a safe feeding environment for your birds:

Bird Feeder Plans

Now that you know about they types of wild bird food, learn how to build your own feeder with these Free Bird Feeder Plans and learn which type attracts what kind of birds.

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Winter Bird Feeding- Learn about the best bird seedfor the birds during the cold wintertime season.

And be sure to sign up for Project FeederWatch, where you can participate in a winter-long survey of birds that visit your feeder.

Bird Feeders – Best bird feeders by type including tube, platform, squirrel proof, hopper and window bird feeders.

Bird feeder and Red-bellied Woodpecker photos courtesy of Murry Foubister and Samantha Forsberg, respectively.

Best no-grow bird seed

To combat this, many companies now supply seed mixes labelled as ‘no grow’ or ‘no mess’. These contain oats and sometimes suet pellets along with various seeds, such as sunflower and maize, that have been kibbled – cracked, chopped or ground – or heat treated to inhibit germination.

Find out if these treatments actually work in our results table below.

Best no-grow bird seeds

Only logged-in Which? members can access our recommendations below. If you’re not already a member, join Which? to get instant access to all our reviews.

With the best score in the test, this mix of oats, maize, sunflower, peanuts, barley and wheat produced just three grass-like seedlings in the greenhouse, which grew into fairly weak plants. These were probably oats, but as they didn’t get to flowering size, we can’t be sure. Outside, just a single maize seedling grew. A big bonus is this blend doesn’t include suet pellets, which can turn slimy and encourage mould growth if left.

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Containing a blend of oats, kibbled maize, kibbled sunflower hearts and peanuts, plus suet pellets and petrified wheat (cooked to make it more easily digested), this produced only a handful of sunflower seedlings in our greenhouse seed trays. Outside in our fruit cage, nothing germinated at all and the seed soon disappeared, most likely eaten by mice.

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Why Which? no-grow bird seed reviews are better

Which? is independent and doesn't accept advertising or freebies, so you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.

We tested eight well-known brands, both on seed trays in the greenhouse and outdoors.

Each mix was sown in a seed tray of best compost and kept in the greenhouse.

We also sowed each mix on the ground outside in a bed protected by a fruit cage.

  • We recorded germination in the greenhouse four days and 10 days after sowing.
  • We recorded germination after 10 days on the seeds placed outside.
  • Any seed that germinated was allowed to grow on so we could see whether the resulting plants were invasive or could be problematic.

We also contacted the manufacturers to find out the exact ingredients of each seed blend, since we noticed that some contained a greater variety of seeds than was listed on the packaging.