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Try something different: Spray millet

February 9, 2012

Millet may not be the first type of seed that comes to mind when thinking of wild bird feeding. A few members of the FeederWatcher’s Forum, however, have had some fun recently by putting out sprigs of millet for their birds. Forum member downeylover writes, “I used twist ties to put out a few sprays of millet as a treat. Its a hit!  The cardinals have been at it non stop but I’ve also seen juncos, chickadees, titmice and house finches enjoying some.”

Cardinals enjoying spray millet by Kim SanFanandre of Long Island, NY

Millet is a small, round seed that is often found in wild bird seed mixes. Some species may toss millet aside while searching for richer foods in the mix such as the black oil sunflower seed. But white millet is readily consumed by some species, particularly birds that feed on the ground. “Spray millet” is millet seed still on the stalk and is usually sold as an enrichment food for captive birds–check your local pet store to see if they carry it. Many native birds will readily consume millet seed including finches, sparrows, towhees, juncos, doves, and cardinals (like the ones seen above).

Note that species such as cowbirds and House Sparrows also love millet, so if you do not want to attract these species, you may want to avoid millet.  Also, try to make sure that you purchase white proso millet, not red millet or golden millet because these other types of millet are not readily eaten by most species.  Spray millet can also be pricey – if you find that spray millet is too expensive, you can also buy bags of white millet seed to spreed on the ground or put in tray feeders.

For more tips on bird feeding, see FeederWatch’s bird feeding page or All About Birds’ feeding page.

  1. February 9, 2012 12:39 pm

    i have tried millet hanging from a bush but my birds don’t like it. i also have a bird cuttle bone for them to sharpen their beaks and nails on they do use that one… i make my own bird food and they love it i feed 100’s of birds daily

  2. donnag permalink
    February 9, 2012 1:00 pm

    I have been picking up millet seed spray in the grocery store in the pet section and are delighted to see the Painted Buntings LOVE it!

  3. Teresa Planton permalink
    February 9, 2012 2:38 pm

    I buy hulled millet in the bulk food isle at my grocery store, there’s no waste and all birds love it. Including Flickers.

  4. Carla permalink
    February 9, 2012 3:41 pm

    Interesting… hulled millet from the bulk food isle. I must try this! I’ve tried the sprays and nothing eat it. Even though I buy millet and sprinkle for the ground eating birds and they love that. I must have lazy birds.

  5. karen permalink
    February 9, 2012 6:51 pm

    I grow purple majesty millet and leave it for the birds, growing in the ground or in pots in my back yard. Chickadees really go for it!

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