Jan 22, 2020 | Featured Web Article

Millet vs. Milo

Millet (left) and milo (right). What are these seeds, and what birds eat them?
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If you look at the contents of a birdseed mix, you might find sunflower seeds, cracked corn, or peanuts. Those are pretty well understood commodities. But you might also find millet or milo. What are they, and who eats them?

Milo is the seed of sorghum (Sorghum bicolor), which is a type of grass. It is reddish and slightly smaller than a BB. Because of its bulk, it is often found in less expensive seed mixes. Milo is a favorite of wild turkeys, quail, pigeons and doves, common grackles, European starlings, brown-headed cowbirds, and other ground-feeding birds. In the West, curve-billed thrashers and Steller's jays gobble it up! Mixed seed containing milo should be offered directly on the ground or on a platform feeder close to the ground. Milo is not a seed finches, sparrows, or most other songbirds prefer, so they'll kick it out of tube or other hanging bird feeders. Seed mix containing milo is a waste of money and space in the tube feeder if you are attempting to attract smaller songbirds, especially in the East.

Millet (Panicum miliaceum) is related to milo—they're both grass seeds. Millet seeds are smaller than milo, however, and smaller birds eat it. White proso millet is a favorite of ground-feeding birds including quail, doves, towhees, juncos and other sparrows, as well as Carolina wrens, but it also attracts cowbirds, blackbirds, and house sparrows. Cardinals, house finches, and pine siskins will eat it, but it's not a favorite. White millet can be offered on the ground, in low platforms, or in a seed mix offered in a hanging tube feeder or hopper, but expect chickadees and nuthatches to kick the millet to the ground.

As a rule of thumb, seed mixes—especially those that contain millet or milo—are best offered on a platform feeder low to the ground.



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