According to the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries, backyard birds of Virginia can subsist on the diverse seeds, fruits and berries produced by local shrubs and trees throughout much of the year. During the winter months, when there is a shorter supply of natural food sources, birds are attracted to feeders that supply black oil sunflower seeds, striped oil sunflower seeds and millet seeds.
Sunflower seeds attract a wide diversity of birds. Birds favor black oil sunflower seeds over any other type. Their small, thin shells are easily cracked open by smaller birds such as chickadees. The seeds are a good source of protein and provide birds with fat that helps them withstand the colder winter temperatures. Native Virginia birds that eat black oil sunflower seeds include cardinals, nuthatches, titmice, grosbeaks and finches.
Striped sunflower seeds are larger with thicker shells that are more difficult to crack open. They are better managed by birds with heavier bills, such as cardinals, jays and woodpeckers.
Millet seeds are the small red and white round seeds typically found in a seed mix. They are a favorite of birds with smaller beaks, such as mourning doves and sparrows. Quail, juncos and towhees also enjoy millet seeds.