Wild Bird Diet

Feeding the birds is a popular pastime, especially in winter when we’re itching for spring.

Bringing different bird species into the yard helps us to enjoy the outdoors without actually having to go out!

Different birds need different blends of bird seed. PET VALU stores carry foods for specific types of bird, feeder types and other options to help you attract a variety of birds to your home.

A diet of all seeds may not be healthy for your domestic birds, as seeds are high in fat, but it’s less of a worry for wild birds. With bird feeders and seed mixes we are simply supplementing the wild bird’s diet. They have other diet options such as worms and insects which combined with the seeds we offer, are part of a well balanced diet.

Many people feed bread to birds, especially ducks and geese, but bread is low in protein and contains salt which is not good for birds. If birds eat too much bread they might eat less protein which could create an unbalanced diet for them. It’s best to avoid feeding bread, or any other processed ‘human’ foods, to birds. Better still, you can give suet to wild birds, even in the summer.

Suet is fed to birds often in the winter months out of fear that it will melt in the summer. Pet Valu stores sell suet that has been rendered and is therefore more stable than suet from a local butcher. It’s best to keep suet out of direct sunlight and put out smaller amounts at a time, but it’s still viable in summer.

Wild Bird Seed

Oil Based Seeds and Ingredients
Typically these seeds are higher in protein and fat. Birds require protein for cell development and maintenance and fats for energy, just like any other animal. During the winter months, this is especially important because they need energy to simply maintain body weight.

  • Sunflower Most popular oil seed. Virtually every bird and small animal loves the taste of these seeds. Black seeds offer higher fat content than striped. The shell of the black seed is thinner than the striped, and this allows the bird to crack it easily. Striped seed is generally less expensive.
  • Safflower White in colour. This seed is not popular with all birds, and is generally passed over by squirrels. Although generally more expensive, many people choose this seed because the feeder is not overrun with less desirable birds and animals. A favorite with Cardinals.
  • Nyjer (Niger) (Thistle) Derives from a variety of the thistle plant, it is a small black seed that grows in tropical areas such as India, Indonesia and Africa. It is highly desired by smaller birds such as finches.
  • Peanuts A good source of vegetable protein and fat. Shelled peanuts and peanut hearts make a fine addition in a mix intended for birds that feed above ground. All peanuts are well liked by squirrels. Note: The peanut products we sell are unsalted, which are easier for birds to digest. They should not be fed roasted, salted peanuts for humans as the salt is unnatural for birds and increases their water consumption.
  • Other oil seeds less often found in seed mixes include flax, hemp, poppy, pumpkin, rape, and sesame.

Grain Based Seeds and Ingredients
These seeds are much higher in carbohydrates and significantly lower in fat and protein than oil based seeds. They’re more popular with the larger birds. Smaller birds need proportionally more fats and proteins in their diet and will typically choose not to “fill up” on the high carb meal.

  • Millet We typically offer the white and red proso. Some birds love them. It is easier to take the shell off this seed, and get to “the meat” than most other seeds.
  • Milo Usually red or white in color. Also known as Kafir corn. Grown in Mid-West North America.
  • Canary From canary grass which grows in the prairies. Enjoyed by most small birds and platform feeders.
  • Corn A good source of protein and carbs for those birds that will eat it. Most popular with doves and pigeons.

Other cereal grains less often found in seed mixes include buckwheat, oats and wheat.

Summer Bird Watching: Who’s That Tweeting in My Window?

Domestic Birds 101