Monday, March 8, 2021

Comparison: No mess and waste free bird seed

Let's face it. Feeding birds can be messy. Those of us who feed birds regularly look for ways to make it less messy.

Is it worth it to buy the more expensive bird seed advertised as "no mess" or "waste-free"? What does that even mean? And how well do bird seed brands that say these words deliver on their promise?

This article discusses those questions. Plus, I give you my impressions of a few brands I have tried.


Photo of bird seed in feeder
Kaytee Waste-Free seed in my feeder

Bird seed can make a mess in one of 3 ways

1) Seeds may have inedible hard outer shells. Birds crack open the shell to reach the meaty kernel inside. The outer hulls drop off the feeder to the ground below.

2) Not all birds like all seeds or foods. Birds will eat their favorite first and throw the rest out of the feeder and onto the ground.

3) Excited birds at the feeder may accidentally knock out uneaten seeds. Spilled seeds that don't get eaten may sprout in the spring (or immediately).

If birds prefer one type of seed, and throw out the others, then why combine them? Offer one type of seed in each feeder. However, if you want to purchase just one bag of bird food, then you may want mixed seed. If so, you may try those labeled as "no mess" or waste-free."


Of course, birds also make a mess by leaving their droppings wherever they are concentrated to eat. So birds on the porch, deck, or patio may still be messy, even if the food itself is not.




In this article


  • What does no mess and waste free and no shell bird seed mean?
  • Ingredients in popular brands of no mess and waste free bird seed
  • What is the best no mess and waste free bird seed?
  • My review of some no mess bird seed brands I tried
  • I made my own no mess bird seed!




What does "no mess" and "waste-free" and "no shell" bird seed mean?


What do these terms mean to you? I bet it is different from what it means to bird seed providers!

1. Do these words mean that there are no inedible shells on any of the seeds to make a mess? 

Not usually.

2. Do these words mean that the seeds will not germinate and grow a weedy mess under the feeder?

Rarely.


Companies advertise bird seed as "no mess" and "waste-free" and even "shell free" if they contain hulled sunflower seeds (kernels, hearts, or broken chips) rather than whole sunflower seeds in the shell. They often add peanut or tree nut pieces or cracked corn.


However, these companies vary in whether they offer white proso millet with shells or hulled

True, the shells of white proso millet are very small. But they can still make a mess. 

And these millet seeds with the shells on will readily sprout if spilled onto the ground from the feeder. 

If you want truly waste free and no shells, then you want the ingredient list to say "hulled white proso millet." If it just says "white proso millet" then it still has the shells on and will germinate and sprout under your feeders.

Alternatively, look for no mess bird seed without any millet. Juncos, towhees and ground-feeding sparrows love millet. But it is not a favorite of finches or chickadees or nuthatches or cardinals.


Two cautions about bird seed with hulls removed--the no mess type. 

This kind of bird seed doesn't last as long as those with the shells intact. It has a shorter shelf life. It can get stale if stored a long time. It needs to be fresh.

Also, it will go bad much more quickly if wet. So clean uneaten seed from your feeders after rain or snow melt. If it is gummy and clumps together, it is bad. The birds won't eat it.

So don't over-fill the feeder. Let it go empty every couple of days. This will help with the mess, too. Sparrows on the ground will search for uneaten seeds, rather than go up to the feeder for more easy access.


Ingredients in popular brands of no mess and waste-free bird seed

The following table lists the brand and the main ingredients. I tell whether it is shell-free. I tell whether it is safe from sprouting under the feeder if spilled. The red letters indicate the ingredients that make the seed NOT truly waste free and no mess and shell free.

Full details follow the table.


Brand Shell
free
Sprout
free
Sunflower
kernels
White
Millet
Crack
Corn
Peanut Tree
nut
Dried
Fruit
Filler
Audubon Park     X X       X
Country Blends X X X X X       X
Global Harvest     W X   X      
Kaytee Nut & Fruit X X X   X   X X  
Kaytee Nut & Raisin X X X   X X X X X
Kaytee Ultimate     X X X X     X
Kaytee Waste Free     X X X X     X
Lyric Delight X X X     X X    
Lyric Fine Tunes X X X H   X X    
Lyric Woodpecker X X X   X X X X  
Brand Shell
free
Sprout
free
Sunflower
kernels
White
Millet
Crack
Corn
Peanut Tree
nut
Dried
Fruit
Filler
Meadow Ridge Farms X X X   X X     
Morning Song     X X X X     X
Pendleton  
X H X       S 
Pour Joy X X X H X X      
Schoen Farms     X   X       X
Valley Farms  X X X   W X X X  
Wagner's Gourmet X X X   X X X    
Wagner's Shell Free     X X X X

X
Wild Delight X X X     X X    


The following are details for the table above.

In general, the ingredient list below is from most to least quantity. The first listed ingredient is the one with the most seeds--the main ingredient.

I prefer sunflower seeds as the first main ingredient that most birds prefer. Then I like white proso millet as the second ingredient for sparrows and ground feeding birds. Then, as a third ingredient, I prefer peanuts and tree nuts for nuthatches, woodpeckers, and jays. Dried fruit is a nice final touch. I don't want a large percentage of cracked corn--not enough songbirds eat it, mostly jays, doves, quail. 

I don't want any red milo, wheat, oats, red millet, canary seed, rape seed, or flax, because few birds eat it and most of these small seeds readily sprout under the bird feeder if kicked out by the birds. These last items are "cheap filler" that are found in the inexpensive mixed bird seed.


Audubon Park No Waste Blend

Ingredients: white proso millet, sunflower chips, red millet, peanut pieces. 

Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Few birds eat red millet.


Country Blends No Milo No Mess

Ingredients: white proso millet, cracked corn, black oil sunflower seed, wheat. 

The whole sunflower seeds are very sparse. This is mostly millet and corn. Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Few birds eat wheat.


Global Harvest No Waste Blend

Ingredients: white proso millet, sunflower chips. peanut pieces.

Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground.


Kaytee Ultra Waste Free Nut and Fruit Blend

Ingredients: hulled sunflower, cracked corn, shelled nuts, dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries and apples.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Kaytee Waste Free Nut and Raisin

Ingredients: hulled sunflower seeds, peanuts, raisins, pistachios, almonds, walnuts, pecans, cracked corn, ground wheat, oats, corn meal, soybean meal, flax seeds, dried whole eggs, soy oil, dried beet pulp, salt, algae meal, more....

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.

I don't get why there is so much extra in this. It would have been great if they would have stopped with the hulled sunflower seeds through the cracked corn. It will get gummy and possibly go bad quickly if it gets wet. 


Kaytee Ultimate No Mess Wild Bird Food

Ingredients: hulled sunflower seeds, white millet, cracked corn, peanuts, canary seed, calcium carbonate.

Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Canary seed is tiny and will sprout if spilled on the ground.

I like that sunflower seeds and millet are the first two ingredients. Calcium carbonate is a dietary supplement that birds need.


Kaytee Waste Free Bird Seed Blend

Ingredients: hulled sunflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, peanuts, canary seed.

Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Canary seed is tiny and will sprout if spilled on the ground.


Lyric Delight High Protein No Waste Wild Bird Mix

Ingredients: shelled peanuts, sunflower kernels, pecans, pistachios, shelled pumpkin seeds.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Lyric Fine Tunes No Waste Bird Seed Mix

Ingredients: peanut pieces, pistachio pieces, almond pieces, sunflower kernels, hulled white proso millet, shelled pumpkin seed pieces.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Lyric Woodpecker No Waste Mix

Ingredients: shelled peanuts, sunflower kernels, corn, pecans, pistachio, shelled pumpkin seeds, dried cherries, raisins.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Meadow Ridge Farms No Grow No Shell Wild Bird Seed Mix

Ingredients: peanut hearts, sunflower hearts, cracked corn

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.

Jays, squirrels, and woodpeckers.


Morning Song Clean and Free Wild Bird Food (Less Mess)

Ingredients: chipped sunflowers, white proso millet, cracked corn, peanuts, canary seed, red millet.

Millet has small shells and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Canary seed is tiny and will sprout if spilled on the ground. Few birds eat red millet.


Pendleton Turf Supply Wild Bird, No Mess Mix

Ingredients: sunflower chips, hulled millet, cracked corn, Nutrasaff.

Nutrasaff is a special thin-shelled safflower seed. The shell is 40% thinner than regular safflower seed. Birds are also supposed to like it more. I'm not sure if it will sprout if spilled.


Pour Joy No Mess No Waste Shell-Free Blend

Ingredients: hulled sunflower hearts and chips, peanut pieces, hulled white millet, cracked corn.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Schoen Farms Less Mess Wild Bird Food Mix

Ingredients: sunflower kernels, canary seed, red millet, cracked corn, wheat.

Canary seed and millet will sprout if spilled. Few birds eat canary seed, red millet, and wheat.


Valley Farms Woodpecker Mix No Mess No Waste

Ingredients: peanut kernels, assorted tree nuts, sunflower hearts, whole corn, shelled pumpkin seeds, raisins.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled. Few birds eat whole corn kernels.


Wagner's Gourmet Waste Free Wild Bird Food

Ingredients: sunflower chips, peanut pieces, cracked corn, tree nuts, pumpkin seeds.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


Wagner's Shell Free Blend Wild Bird Food

Ingredients: white millet, cracked corn, red millet, sunflower kernels, peanut kernels.

The millet still has the shells on and will readily sprout if spilled on the ground.


Wild Delight Deck, Porch N' Patio No Waste Bird Food

Ingredients: sunflower kernels, peanuts, pistachios, pumpkin seeds.

No shells and will not germinate and sprout if spilled.


What is the best "no mess" and "waste free" bird seed?

Based on the ingredients above I choose these bird seeds as the best of the no mess (or "less mess") variety.

For truly no shells, no sprout, then choose no mess bird seed with either no millet, or hulled millet, along with the hulled sunflower seeds and chips.

I already mentioned that I want sunflower seeds as the first ingredient.


Pour Joy No Mess No Waste Shell-Free Blend

This bird seed contains sunflower chips as the first ingredient. The second ingredient is hulled white proso millet. The third ingredient is peanut pieces. The final ingredient is cracked corn. Perfect! This is the ingredient ratio that will bring the most birds to my feeder.



Kaytee Ultra Waste Free Nut and Fruit Blend

This bird seed has a great ingredient list. I don't like cracked corn as being second on the list, as I don't want a whole lot of this grain, eaten primarily by jays and pigeons. However, I love the nuts and all the dried fruits offered.



Wagner's Gourmet Waste Free Wild Bird Food

Nice. Sunflower chips, peanut pieces, cracked corn, tree nuts and pumpkin seeds. All good stuff.



Runners up:


Pendleton Turf Supply Wild Bird, No Mess Mix

I'm interested in the NutraSaff, also known as Golden Safflower. It is a hybrid safflower seed with very thin shells. Cardinals eat safflower seed. But other birds are supposed to like the NutraSaff, too. I'm not sure if the NutraSaff will sprout if it spills. 

The first ingredients are sunflower chips, hulled millet, and cracked corn.



Wild Delight Deck, Porch N' Patio No Waste Bird Food

Sunflower kernels, peanuts, pistachios, and pumpkin seeds. No millet, so this is truly no mess.



Now, finally, let's look at the brands with white proso millet, even if it isn't hulled. Can we be honest and call it "less mess," rather than no mess?


Kaytee Waste Free Bird Seed Blend

Sunflower chips, white proso millet, cracked corn, peanuts, canary seed. This is a good ingredient list.



Kaytee Ultimate No Mess Wild Bird Food

This is the same as they Kaytee blend above, except it also has calcium carbonate, a mineral supplement. 



My review of some no mess and waste free bird seed I tried

The first no mess bird seed I tried was...

Wild Delight Deck, Porch N' Patio Wild Bird Food, 5 pounds, $14.99

Sunflower kernels, peanuts, pistachios, hulled pumpkin seed.

The birds seemed to really like this. I was still in San Diego when I tried this. I had mostly House Finches and Mourning Doves in summer.

This had no waste.

My biggest complaint was the large seeds and peanuts. They kept getting stuck in feeder port. Every couple of days I had to take a fork or other pointy object to dislodge the item to unclog the feeder port.

I was using a glass and metal bird feeder with the Stokes label. The bird feeder is pictured at the head of this article. If you like it, here is an affiliate link to what I believe is the same feeder model on Amazon.


Kaytee Ultimate No Mess Wild Bird Food, 9.75 pounds, $17.99

Hulled sunflower, white millet, cracked corn, peanuts, canary grass seed, calcium carbonate.

Millet and canary grass left small shells behind. I don't notice, too much, though. The shells were so small and light that they blew away.

The opening photo is this bird seed in my yard in San Diego.

It had smaller pieces, so didn't plug up the feeder ports as did the Wild Delight bird food.

While in San Diego my complaint was that the birds didn't eat the cracked corn--at least, not until the sunflower seeds were long gone. 

Then I only had a family of House Finches, a few Lesser Goldfinches, and a Mourning Dove as my "regulars." I suspect that only the dove ate the cracked corn. 

Can you imagine the large dove perched up on the shelf of that small bird feeder? A California Towhee pair were also in the yard, but I rarely saw them up high on the feeder. They spent most of their time on the ground.

I brought the same feeder and remaining seed with me to Washington State in the fall when I moved. 

Guess what?

The birds ate it all up! Birds were more numerous and included Steller's Jays and House Sparrows that eat cracked corn. Red-breasted Nuthatches snatched up all the peanuts before the jays could get them! House Finches and American Goldfinches, and Chickadees (both Black-capped and Chestnut-backed) ate the sunflower seeds. This food didn't last long!


Photo of bulk millet and sunflower chips


I made my own no mess bird seed!

Well, I made the "less mess" version with hulled sunflower seeds and white proso millet.

You can make your own mixed seed, too!

My own mix: Sunflower chips, 10 pounds, my cost in November 2020 was $25.99 & White millet bulk, 10 pounds, my cost in November 2020 was $18.99. Those links lead to Amazon. 

20 pounds for $45. That's a good savings.

[As an Amazon Affiliate, if you use the links on my site to purchase something from Amazon on the day you visit, I will earn a percentage of everything you buy, with no additional cost to you. Thanks for your support!]


Photo of bulk bird seed

I mixed it and stored it in plastic ware.

I mixed the seed about 50/50. However, I could have used 2 parts millet to 1 part sunflower seeds.

If you added unsalted peanuts (Amazon) and maybe some raisins, that would make it perfect!

Why these two ingredients? Read my article on why sunflower seeds and white proso millet are the perfect combination!

Most birds eat sunflower seeds. However, the House Finches actually like whole black oil sunflower seeds better than just the kernels and chips out of the shell. [I have a daughter that as a child loved corn-on-the-cob, but couldn't stand canned corn. I wonder if that's the same?]

The Dark-eyed Juncos, Pine Siskins, House Sparrows, and Spotted Towhees ate the millet.

House Finches, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Steller's Jays ate the hulled sunflower seeds.

It's kind of fun to experiment with different foods!




Related:

14 tips to keep bird seed from sprouting in your lawn

How do you feed birds without making a mess?

Setting up your first bird feeder




2 comments:

  1. Just starting I to bird feeding. Excellent article. If I make my own like you said using sunflower seeds and white millet (and maybe some safflower) what type of feeder is best? Been thru cheap feeders and cheap seed last three months. I want to do it more correctly this time. Thanks

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's great that you started experimenting with your own seed mixes!

      See my article on choosing bird feeders:

      https://www.whatbirdsareinmybackyard.com/2020/02/what-kind-of-bird-feeders-do-birds-like.html

      Delete

Thank you so much for visiting! Would you please leave a comment to let me know what you thought and how I can make this resource better for you?

--Greg--

Legal Disclosure
As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

Legal disclosure

As an Amazon Associate I earn commissions from qualifying purchases. Thank you for your support.

Featured Post

Bird Watching Basics: How to start bird watching

Many people seek the peace and beauty that the natural world brings. Birds are frequently the most active and colorful living creatures enco...