Just like people, birds have particular tastes in food. You'd never find a vegetarian waiting in line at the hot dog stand any more than you'd find a goldfinch eagerly awaiting a dinner of milo. In order to attract the type of bird that you want at your feeder you need to adjust your bird feeder seeds. Sometimes several feeders are necessary.
Goldfinch lovers and mourning dove admirers should supply a feeder that contains thistle, also known as niger seed. This highly nutritious seed is rich in both protein and fat. House finches, redpolls, siskins, juncos and purple finches also love these seeds. The best way to serve the seeds to the birds is in a tube feeder. Cardinals, by the way, hate to eat from a tube feeder.
If you want a seed that is the favorite of most seed eating birds, try black oil sunflower seeds. The outer shells are soft enough so smaller seed eating birds can crack them, but the inside is the primary reason for the popularity. This meaty seed provides not only a high amount of fat but quality protein for the feathered friends. Bluejays prefer the black stripe sunflower for their bird feeder seed and goldfinches like a smaller black oil sunflower seed. Many times the smaller seeds are more inexpensive and last longer because there are more to the pound.
You can keep gackles and starlings away and attract cardinals, chickadees, downey woodpeckers, nuthatches and titmice with safflower seed. Most squirrels don't bother with this fare either so it leaves the feeder full for your feather friends.
Millet, often used as a filler in mixed wild bird feed, find praise from cardinals, juncos, doves, house finches and sparrows. Most of them prefer the white variety of millet and kick the red millet bird feeder seed to the ground. However, if you put out corn you'll get the blackbirds, bluejays, and the friendly squirrel back at the feeder.
If you love cardinals then try some shelled unsalted peanuts. They love it. Watch out though, you'll have a lot of squirrels competing for those nuts. Squirrel like peanuts almost more than sunflower seeds.
When you feed the birds, make certain that you keep the feeder clean. Clean it out once a month and dry it thoroughly. Seeds that get damp, mold. Bacteria grows on the feeder and spreads to the diners. Leaving your feeder dirty can cause a great deal of harm to the birds.
Keep a separate feeder for suet. You can use suet cakes or make your own treat for the birds. Melt down animal fat from the butcher and mix it with bird feeder seed. Another taste treat for birds that goes well at a suet feeder is a ball of peanut butter mixed with seeds. Birds love it and it's far more appropriate in the summer months than the heavy animal fat.
Regardless of the time of year, all birds need water. Water attracts as many birds as feed in winter months and hot dry summer weather. If you live in the Frozen North, get a heater for your birdbath to prevent the water from freezing.