Milo is attractive to starlings and mourning doves, most other birds do not eat it. It is among the cheapest ingredients and therefore used in mixed. It is available in both red and white colored seed.
Nyjer seed is a small, black seed imported from Africa and Asia. Goldfinches and pine siskins are especially attracted to nyjer thistle, as are house finches and purple finches. A special tube feeder with small slits is required to feed thistle seed.
Peanut hearts and kernels are attractive to blue jays, chickadees and white-throated sparrows. In-shell peanuts are an excellent food for squirrels, feed them in an area away from your birdfeeders and they will leave the feeders alone.
Proso Millet, White
Smaller birds prefer white proso millet to black oil sunflowers. It is especially attractive to all types of sparrows. White proso millet is used extensively in mixes to keep the cost of the mix low.
Proso Millet, Red
Most birds prefer white proso millet over red proso millet.
Safflower is an oilseed with a very hard shell. The only birds able to crack the shell and get at the seed inside are cardinals and house finches. It contains high levels of energy, important during cold months. The shells, like black oil sunflowers, will accumulate under the feeder and need to be cleaned up regularly.
Sunflowers, Black Oil
Over 40 species of birds are attracted to black oil sunflowers, making it one of the best items to put in feeders. Black oil sunflowers are very palatable and contain high energy levels, important during cold weather. Black oils can be fed in tube feeders and hopper feeders. The empty hulls on the ground can cause problems, such as attracting rodents and killing grass, so they need to be cleaned up regularly.
Striped sunflowers are larger than black oil sunflowers. Very few birds prefer stripes over black oils, blue jays being the most common. Birds will eat stripes if black oils are not available but will eat less.
Sunflower chips are hulled black oil sunflowers. They vary in size from whole hearts to fine chips. They have the benefits of black oil sunflower seeds without the mess of the hulls. Sunflower chips are also popular with goldfinches.