Quality bird seeds deliver all the nutrients required by both wild and domesticated birds to enjoy health and vitality. However, different bird species have different nutritional needs, and some birds will eat certain foods while others won't touch them.
If you're buying pet bird seed, your best bet is to talk to your vet or a domesticated-bird professional to find out what type of food is optimal. However, you'll need to do a little of your own research if you're planning to use wild bird seeds to attract untamed feathered visitors to your yard.
It's important to understand that virtually every species of wild bird has preferred foods, as well as foods they'll readily eat when preferred foods are not available. By understanding this, you'll be able to appeal to their natural tastes and provide them with a meal they'll keep coming back for.
Sometimes, these needs are easy to provide for. Cardinals, for example, prefer to eat sunflower seeds, so you can attract them to your yard simply by stocking your bird feeders with these readily available treats. Similarly, hummingbirds prefer nectars and small insects, so providing some protein, sugar water and sweetened seeds will coax them to visit you.
However, you'll need to get creative to attract certain birds. For instance, owls are predators, feeding on small mammals, snakes and birds. Since it's unlikely that you'll be able to offer them these to eat, you're best off attracting owls by offering them a source of clean, fresh water.
If you don't want to stock your bird seed houses with generic wholesale bird seed, you can create tasty and nutritious homemade snacks for wild birds using common household ingredients.
To make filler for your bird feeder, take 1 cup each of cooking oil, peanut butter, shortening and cracked corn, and mix in enough wild bird seeds to create a consistent mixture. This concoction delivers more essential fats, proteins and calories than bird seed will on its own. Birds need a high-fat, high-protein, high-calorie diet, as flying makes them burn calories at sky-high rates.
Another treat birds love are homemade "bird balls," as they're often called. This bird seed recipe combines equal parts of flour, corn meal, lard and bird seed in a 2 to 1 mixture with peanut butter. The thick consistency that results makes it easy to roll the final product into a ball, which birds can grasp in their beaks and carry off to their nests.