Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Birds – Feeder Guide

Want to know more about black oil sunflower seeds for birds in your backyard?

Then you’ve come to the right place.

These days there is a lot of variety when offering bird food. So learning about different types like black oil sunflower seeds will help the birds in your yard.

Plus you’ll

  • Attract more birds
  • Have healthier birds
  • Handle problems with black oil sunflower seeds

This guide will help to answer all the questions you have about black oil sunflower.

You can then decide whether black oil sunflower is the best option for your bird feeders or not.

Let’s get to it.

What is black oil sunflower seed?

You probably already took a guess that black oil sunflower seed is, well seeds from a sunflower plant (Helianthus annuus).

What you may not know is that sunflower seeds come in two types: Black oiled and striped.

This guide is going to focus on the black oil seeds.

Around 75% of black oil sunflower seeds in the USA are grown in North Dakota, South Dakota, and Minnesota.

The actual seeds are all black, teardrop-shaped, and around the size of a fingernail.

Do birds prefer black oil or striped sunflower seeds?

Birds prefer black oil sunflower seeds to the striped kind.

Both types of seeds have an outer layer that birds need to crack open to get the meat inside.

For starters the black oil variety has a softer shell, making it easier for more birds to open.

But that’s not all.

Black oil sunflower seed is good for birds.

In fact, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service encourages the use of black oil sunflower seed to attract backyard birds.

The higher oil content in black sunflower seeds makes a superior bird food for nutrients.

The high fat content means more energy and healthier birds, or even survival over the winter.

It’s that simple really.

What Birds Eat Black oil sunflower Seeds

Offering up black oil sunflower seeds in your backyard feeders will be sure to bring you a variety of birds for you to watch.

This includes:

  • Finches
  • Chickadees
  • Woodpeckers
  • Nuthatches
  • Titmice
  • Redpolls
  • Pine siskins

And depending on the type of feeder you use (see more on that below) you can even attract more birds.

Look out for:

  • Cardinals
  • Jays
  • Crossbills
  • Purple finches
  • House finches
  • White-throated sparrows
  • White-crowned sparrows

These are the most common bird to expect but you may attract even some rare species.

You’ll find that black sunflower oil attracts pretty much all seed-eating birds to your feeders.

Will starlings eat black oil sunflower seeds?

You’ll find that starlings will eat black oil sunflower seeds.

But wait.

They don’ particularly like to eat them.

The truth is that the shells are difficult for them to get into. That means starlings have to work a lot harder for the goodies than they do with other types of seed.

If you really want to deter starlings mix up your black oiled seeds with some striped sunflower seeds.

The striped seed is a lot harder to get into and will deter the starlings even more.

Do Goldfinches like black oil sunflower seeds?

The great news is that goldfinches do love to eat black oiled sunflower seeds.

It’s definitely a preferred food for them.

They go through quite a lot, which usually means they make a good mess with the shells.

If you want to avoid this but keep the finches coming around, sunflower hearts are a great alternative to offer. Check out my guide to what goldfinches eat for more ways to attract them to your yard.

What birds will not eat Black oil sunflower seeds?

Making a list of birds that don’t eat black oil sunflower seeds is actually easier.

These are the birds you won’t attract with black oil sunflower seeds:

  • Orioles
  • Hummingbirds
  • Bluebirds
  • American robins
  • Mockingbirds
  • Tanagers
  • Warblers

You’ll find that most of these birds are not seed-eating birds.

In the winter, non-seed-eating birds, such as wrens, may eat black oil sunflower seeds when food is scarce.

Do bully birds eat sunflower seeds?

Unfortunately yes.

Most bully birds such as house sparrows, doves, grackles, and blackbirds will eat black oil sunflower seeds.

Check out my guide on how to deter bully birds from your feeders.

Do squirrels eat black oil sunflower seeds?

Yes, they do.

Squirrels really enjoy the challenge of seeds with shells and hulls, and that includes black oil sunflower seeds.

That’s great if you enjoy watching the squirrels at your feeders.

If you find that squirrels are a pest in your yard then you might want to consider using any type of sunflower seed.

Other than that, you may consider using a squirrel baffle. A lot of readers have success with this one.

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Black oil sunflower seeds for backyard birds

What are the best black oil sunflower seed Brands?

You’ll find that most of the big bird seed brand names will have their own black oil sunflower seed range.

This includes:

But the bestselling brand on Amazon is the Wagner black oil sunflower seed.

My advice is to be careful of using cheaper brands that have a lot of added debris in their seeds bags.

Try to inspect bags for twigs, woodchips, and empty shells as these will clog up tube feeders.

Just imagine how annoyed you’ll when you’ve paid for a lot of filler rather than bird food.

3 problems with Black oil sunflower Seeds

So you know by now that black oil sunflower seeds are fantastic nutrition for birds.

But there are a few problems you’ll run into if you choose to offer up black oil sunflower seeds in your feeders.

The main problems are that:

1. It’s messy

2. It attracts pests

3.  It kills grass and plants

Let’s look at ways around these issues.

How to feed birds Black oil sunflower Seeds

There are two ways you can offer black oil sunflower seed in your bird feeders:

1. In a mix

Although most birds love black oil sunflower seeds, I’d highly recommend using them in a mix.

Not only does this cut down on the mess created from the shelled seeds, but your birds will love the variety.

This is a great way to attract a particular species of bird to your yard.

It may also help to deter some of the bully birds or squirrels that enjoy the black oil sunflower seeds.

You can buy pre-made mixes, but be careful not to choose one with too many filler foods like milo.

I recommend a homemade blend of black oil sunflower seed, safflower seed, and shelled peanuts.

If you’re not familiar with safflower seed for birds, check out why it’s perfect to mix with black oil sunflower seeds.

2. On its own

You can easily offer only black oiled sunflower seeds.

Without a doubt, you’ll find that birds will happily eat them on their own.

But you’ll also find that you’ll have a huge mess to clean up under your feeders.

I’d always recommend a mix of other seeds along with the black oil sunflower seeds. If nothing more than to cut down on the hull mess.

Hull Mess from Black oil sunflower seeds

The mess from your feeder might not seem a big issue but it needs to be regularly maintained.

Let’s look at the two reasons why.

1. Attracting pests

The ground mess from your birds eating your black oil sunflower seeds will attract other animals.

Some are good, but others can be bad news for your yard.

You may start attracting animals such as rats, mice and raccoons to your yard if they find some seed on the ground.

These animals carry disease. You want to avoid attracting them near your feeder as much as possible.

2. Killing grass and plants

Sunflower seed hulls are bad news for grass and plants in your yard.


Well, they contain chemicals called allopaths. The toxins will kill off any plants or grass that they come into contact with on the ground.

You may start to notice the grass dying off underneath your feeders if the hulls aren’t cleared up quickly.

An easy way around this is to use sunflower hearts or kernels which have the hull already removed.

Best bird feeder for black oil sunflower seeds

Black oil sunflower seeds are quite versatile, you and can use them in a variety of feeders.

If you want to attract as many birdsfeeders as possible with the black oil sunflower seed then I highly recommend offering it in a variety of feeders in your yard.

Platform, hopper, and tube feeders will bring in a great variety of birds.

If you’re looking to offer it only in one type of feeder I’d recommend a hopper-style feeder.


Well, these tend to have a roof and a tray catcher design.

That means you’ll cut down a lot on the pesky hull issue.

I’d add this one to your cart if I were you.

If you choose to offer the seeds in a tube feeder, then consider using a seed catcher tray underneath.

Where to Buy Black oil sunflower Seeds

Black oil sunflower seed is quite inexpensive and you can buy it in bulk up to around 40-50lb bags.

Because one of the best seeds you can offer in your feeder you’ll be able to find it easily in your regular grocery store.

But if you like to buy things in person I’d suggest you go to a bird or pet specialty store.

These types of stores have high-quality brands with less filler in the bag than generic store brands.

If using a local retailer isn’t convenient for you then you can easily source black oil sunflower seed online.

You can get some great discounts on black oil sunflower seed brands on Amazon.

Online bird specialty retailers may also have great deals at times, so you can check them out too.

Final thoughts

Black oil sunflower seed is the best birdseed you can offer to attract the most birds to your yard.

I’d highly recommend you buy some, especially if you’re new to feeding your backyard birds.

But remember there are some issues with using black oil sunflower seeds in your feeders.

This is mainly caused by the mess from the hulls.

Follow the tips in this guide will help you sort these issues out in no time.

Let me know if what your thoughts on using black oil sunflower seed in your feeders in the comments below.

1 thought on “Black Oil Sunflower Seeds For Birds – Feeder Guide”

  1. Howdy: Read your article on Black Oil sunflower seed and would REALLY appreciate it, and so would consumers, that you not “sell” Wagner’s brand. Have tried it and they have A LOT of debri in their Black Oil seed !!!! Will not ever buy theirs again. Haven’t tried their Safflower but now that I know about Golden Safflower being better/easier for birds, will be researching that for a good source.
    Thank you for your information. :))


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