If songbirds could design the menu, sunflower seeds would be the signature protein. Those who feed birds and love watching them know that nothing attracts a wider variety of birds than a tray filled with sunflower seeds. They are nutritionally dense, providing birds with carbs, fats, and proteins, making it a snack that is useful (and tasty!) any time of the year, especially during fall and winter months when birds attempt to consume extra calories in preparation for cold temperatures. Whether they are served in the shell or pre-hulled, birds will come from far and wide to feast on the snack that is sunflower seeds.

Here’s a sampler of which songbirds will come a-flocking when they spy sunflower seeds in your feeder mix:

Red-breasted Grosbeak: lauradyoung / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Grosbeaks

Whether you’re referring to the Rose-breasted Grosbeak (with its eye-catching “tuxedo” plumage) or the Black-headed Grosbeak with its orange accents, these stocky but colorful birds are famous for their thick, strong beaks. These are well-adapted for smashing open the thicker shells of striped sunflower seeds.

Northern Cardinal: ca2hill / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Northern Cardinal

These beautiful red birds are always up for a snack of sunflower seeds. Pay attention to your feeders at dusk and dawn, because it’s common for Northern Cardinals to be among the first arrivals as well as the final birds of the day.

House Finch: Chiyacat / iStock / Getty Images Plus

House Finch

If one of these pinkish red birds discovers your feeder, he could return with a few of his closest friends — as many as 50! At the feeder, they prefer black oil sunflower seed over the larger striped sunflower seeds.

Black-capped Chickadee: GeoffHardy / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Black-capped Chickadee

These beloved cuties are unafraid to hop into a flock of birds at the feeder to pluck out a single seed and fly off with their treasure up into a tree.

Blue Jay: dossyl / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Blue Jays

Depending on how you look at it, the feeder antics of Blue Jays can be entertaining or maddening. Along with sunflower seeds, they’ll fly in to eat an assortment of nuts, seeds, and grains.

American Goldfinch: mirceax / iStock / Getty Images Plus

American Goldfinch

Though Nyjer seeds are their favorite, they’ll happily feast on the thin, easy-to-open shells of black oil sunflower seeds. When the males transition from their winter olive green feathers to their bright canary yellow feathers, it’s a sure sign of spring.

Summer or winter, sunflower seeds are the key ingredient for drawing a crowd at your feeder. If you’re wondering just how well it works, Lyric Wild Bird Food has options for you!

  • Lyric Cardinal Mix has a combination of black oil sunflower, striped sunflower, and sunflower kernels, with 70% of the mix being made of sunflower seeds, and the other 30% a mix of safflower seed and buckwheat. This mix will attract the previously listed birds, as well as many other species of jays, grosbeaks, nuthatches, titmice and more.
  • Lyric Supreme Wild Bird Mix includes a combination of 12 ingredients including sunflower seeds and nuts, with sunflower seeds making up 40% of the mix. When using supreme, you can expect to see an array of finches, woodpeckers, chickadees, nuthatches, cardinals, and many more!

Finally, if you would like a no-waste option that won’t leave a mess of seed shells behind, try Lyric Sunflower Kernels. This product is 100% edible, compatible with multiple feeders, and will attract buntings, cardinals, chickadees, grosbeaks, nuthatches, titmice, and many more. Better yet, since there aren’t any shells, the seed that falls to the ground won’t germinate.