Red millet, red proso millet for wild bird feeding, wildbird birdseed

Red proso millet is a grass seed similar to white proso millet that many wild birds enjoy and can be found in many of the wild bird seed mixes available today. There is another seed, red millet, used in feeding birds, but red millet is half the size of red proso millet and is more often used in birdseed mixes formulated for caged birds. This tiny red millet can also be found in some of the finch mixes that are used as a less expensive alternative to feeding straight Nyjer(tm) seed.

red proso milletWhite proso millet is used more often in wild bird seed mixes formulated in the East, while red proso millet is used more often in the Western-formulated wild bird seed mixes. There are several reasons for this geographic divide on these two similar-but-different millets. First, some consumers in the East seem to confuse red proso millet with milo, another "red" seed that is an undesirable addition to some of the least expensive wild bird seed mixes. Second, red proso millet seems attractive to more bird species in the West than white proso millet, a fact that probably contributes to the decision of packagers in the West to include more of it in their formulations. And last, red proso millet is somewhat more expensive than white proso millet, which could affect the final cost of any wild bird seed mix that it's found in. The fact is that almost all the birds that eat white proso millet are also attracted to red proso millet, and they are easily interchanged in any wild bird seed mix or in your own private blend.

Red proso millet is a favorite of ground-feeding birds - especially our native sparrows - and its tough outer shell protects it so that it can be offered to birds directly on the ground where ground-feeding species prefer it. In addition to native sparrows, species attracted to red proso millet include juncos, cardinals, pyrrhuloxias, towhees, finches, buntings, thrashers, doves, quail, pheasant, bobwhite, and jays, among others.

While it's not easy to find white proso millet in stores, it's practically impossible to find red proso millet, all the more reason to stock up to use by itself or in your own custom wild bird seed blend. One bag will give you zillions of seeds, so you'll be set for a while!

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— written by Carla Davis; The Wild Bird Lady  (c) 2004 - Written permission required for use of images/text on these pages.

Carla Davis is a Habitat Consultant residing on Long Island, New York, where she gives seminars on how to develop Backyard Bird Habitats through bird feeding and native gardening at Garden Centers, Garden Clubs, Nature Centers, Schools, and Audubon Chapters. She has taught portions of the Master Birding Course for Cornell Cooperative Extension, Suffolk County, New York, and her property has been designated as an Official Backyard Habitat by the National Wildlife Federation.  She is a contributing writer to Birding Business magazine and The Bird's-Eye reView, the newsletter of the former National Bird-Feeding Society, where she served as a member of the Board of Directors.