Red Milo is The Red Flag Ingredient in Bird Seed

I’ve said it many times previously on Dan’s Bird Bites, you should avoid bird seeds containing the ingredient red milo. Much like you should read labels of foods you’re eating from the grocery store, it’s well worth scanning the bird seed you’re buying to avoid those containing red milo.

What is Red Milo?

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What is red milo in bird seed? Look for the little reddish dots in this mix that almost resemble popcorn kernels – bingo!

Red milo, also known as grain sorghum, is a grass grain that’s often used as a filler in birdseed mixes. It’s a reddish-round seed that is not appealing to most birds (Project FeederWatch – The Cornell Lab). Red milo is often present in cheap bird seeds. Even though you might be tempted by the price, avoid these! Red milo is usually tossed aside in favor of other bird seed, so you’re throwing your money away.

As an example, you can spot the red milo in a bird seed if you look closely at the picture here:

Red milo in a bird seed mix.
The little red dots are milo. They made up about half of this bird seed!

Do Any Birds Eat Red Milo?

In fact, only a few species of birds will eat red milo, many of which people would label as “pest birds”. These include:

  • Brown Headed Cowbirds
  • Common Grackles
  • Doves
  • European Starlings
  • Certain Jays, like Stellar’s Jays
  • Wild Turkeys

What Should I Feed Birds Instead?

If you’re looking for a better choice for birdseed, there are a ton of easy options. Sunflower seed, suet, and safflower seed are some of my favorites. These foods draw in crowd favorites like Cardinals, Chickadees, Woodpeckers, Finches, and much more.

These foods can be found at home improvement retails, online, hardware stores, and local bird stores.

You can also choose a mix that is specifically designed for attracting a certain type of bird, such as a a songbird or finch mix. Just be sure to check the ingredients list for red milo!

For more on different types of bird seed and food, I recommend you check out my comprehensive guide here.

To sum up, if you’re trying to attract a variety of birds to your backyard, red milo is not a good choice. It’s better to choose a bird seed that’s appealing to a wide range of birds.

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