do wild birds eat cracked corn

Editors note: Please note that this article is originally from 2010. While the source for the post is no longer available online, the information and opinions shared here are still accurate and worth a read. Enjoy! With weather forecasters calling for more extreme winter weather across much of the country this week, now is the time to administer a little TLC to your bird feeder. Remember to keep the feeder clean and clear of snow, give any seed feeders a shake before refilling them to dislodge compacted seed and dump out any old remnants, and, of course, fill ‘er up. Feeders can help birds through harsh winter conditions, like the ones building right now.

Looking for the best foods for winter bird feeding? Bill Thompson, III, the legendary editor of Bird Watcher’s Digest, recently shared his top 10 foods on the magazines website. Heres a recap of his list:

10. Black-oil sunflower seed. Thompson calls this seed the “hamburger” of the bird world: nearly every bird that stops by your feeder will eat it because its thin shell is easy to crack.

9. Peanuts. “Woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice will readily visit a feeder for this high-protein, high-energy food. Even cardinals and finches will eat peanuts,” Thompson writes. Be sure they’re de-shelled, dry-roasted, and unsalted.

8. Suet. You’ll likely be able to find this high-fat food at your supermarket (ask the butcher if you don’t spot it on display). Make your own suet feeder with a mesh onion bag, Thompson suggests.

7. Good mixed seed. There is such a thing as bad mixed seed, Thompson points out. “Bad mixed seed has lots of filler in it—junk seeds that most birds wont eat. Bad mixed seed can include dyed seed meant for pet birds, wheat, and some forms of red milo that only birds in the Desert Southwest seem to eat.” Good mixed seed, he says, “has a large amount of sunflower seed, cracked corn, white proso millet, and perhaps some peanut hearts.” Check for seed at specialty bird stores or a hardware store, or make your own mix.

6. Nyjer/thistle seed. “Although it can be expensive, Nyjer, or thistle, seed is eagerly consumed by all the small finches—goldfinches, house, purple, and Cassins finches, pine siskins, and redpolls,” says Thompson. “You need to feed thistle in a thistle feeder of some kind–the two most commonly used types of thistle feeder are a tube feeder with small thistle-seed-sized holes, and a thistle sock. A thistle sock is a sock-shaped, fine-mesh, synthetic bag that is filled with thistle seed. Small finches can cling to this bag and pull seeds out through the bags mesh.”

5. Safflower. You can fill any sunflower seed feeder with safflower, which many birds eat. Thompson advises avoiding putting the seed on the ground in wet weather as it “can quickly become soggy and inedible.” Look for it in bulk at seed and feed stores.

4. Cracked corn. “Sparrows, blackbirds, jays, doves, quail, and squirrels are just a few of the creatures you can expect at your feeders if you feed cracked corn,” Thomson says. But watch out—it’s also a favorite of squirrels.

3. Mealworms. The thought of mealworms might give you the willies, but most feeder birds will gobble them up—except goldfinches, according to Thompson. He suggests keeping 1,000 mealworms in a tub of old-fashioned rolled oats, then doling them out in a shallow ceramic dish, which the worms can’t crawl out of because of the slippery sides.

2. Fruit. Grapes or sliced citrus, apple, or banana are a special treat that will draw many birds. “If you want to feed raisins, chop them up and soak them in warm water first to soften them up a bit,” suggests Thompson.

1. Homemade bird treats. For one of our favorites, check out this recipe for Zick Dough, an addictive suet that will leave your birds craving more.

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Rapeseed and canary seed

There is nothing special about these two seed varieties over the more common ones. Certain birds, such as quails, doves, finches, and juncos, do consume rapeseed. Should you fail to receive these, the rapeseed will be allowed to deteriorate. House Sparrows and cowbirds, two birds that many people would prefer not to attract, are big fans of canary seed. This is a better option overall because sunflower is equally satisfying to other species that consume canary seed.

do wild birds eat cracked corn

Golden millet, red millet, flax, and others

Although packaged bird seed mixes frequently contain these seeds as fillers, the majority of birds avoid them. Waste seed quickly contaminates fresh seed by serving as a haven for bacteria and fungi. Verify the ingredients list of bird seed mixtures and steer clear of ones that contain these seeds. Specifically, ensure that the small, red seeds in a seed mix are milo or sorghum and not red millet if there are a lot of them.

Note from the editors: This article was first published in 2010. Even though the post’s original online source is no longer accessible, the facts and viewpoints expressed here are still true and worthwhile reading. Enjoy! Now is the perfect time to give your bird feeder some TLC because weather forecasters are predicting more severe winter weather for most of the nation this week. Keep the feeder free of snow and clean, shake any seed feeders before restocking them to release compacted seed and discard any outdated material, and fill er up, of course. Birds that are building right now can benefit from feeders as they navigate the harsh winter conditions.

10. Black-oil sunflower seed. Thompson refers to this seed as the “hamburger” of the bird kingdom since almost all of the birds that visit your feeder will consume it due to its easily cracked thin shell.

3. Mealworms. Although the idea of mealworms may make you queasy, most feeder birds will eat them—with the exception of goldfinches, according to Thompson He recommends storing 1,000 mealworms in a tub of traditional rolled oats and distributing them into a shallow ceramic dish with slick sides so the worms can’t get out.

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9. Peanuts. When given access to this high-protein, high-energy meal, woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, chickadees, and titmice will visit a feeder with ease. Even cardinals and finches will eat peanuts,” Thompson writes. Be sure they’re de-shelled, dry-roasted, and unsalted.

FAQ

What kind of birds eat cracked corn?

Shelled and cracked corn Corn is eaten by grouse, pheasants, turkeys, quails, cardinals, grosbeaks, crows, ravens, jays, doves, ducks, cranes, and other species.

Will birds and squirrels eat cracked corn?

Cracked Corn: Cracked corn is a simple no mess way to feed many of the birds and wildlife in your backyard. Cracked Corn can be offered year-round in a wide variety of feeders. It is ideal for feeding squirrels, chipmunks, jays, doves and ducks from ground or hanging trays.

Is cracked corn good for wild animals?

Man usually only mucks up the situation whenever he tries to interfere with nature. With that said, some folks will still feel the need to help out “the poor wildlife.” If you decide that you simply have to feed the deer, at least feed them the right foodstuffs. Whole kernel corn and course cracked corn are good.

Do cardinals eat whole corn?

Woodpeckers, blue jays and cardinals eat corn from the cob. Serve hard whole kernel corn, shelled and removed from the cob, in wire-grid woodpecker feeders. If you offer it on a tray or hopper feeder, prepare for a squirrel invasion. Crows, cardinals, jays and woodpeckers eat whole kernels.