Feeding Birds: White Millet for Ground-feeding Birds

White millet, also known as proso millet or white proso millet, is a favorite with birds including quail, migratory native American sparrows, doves, towhees, juncos, and cardinals.

So many of the birds drawn to millet are ground-feeding species, so birders have their best luck offering it directly on the ground (near cover, such as shrubs or a brush pile) or on a low platform feeder.

Northern Cardinal

Avoid putting pure white millet in tube feeders—a few birds may come, but most of the birds that eat it won’t even realize such a delicious meal could possibly be found in such an alien structure. Millet mixed with sunflower seeds, as in Pennington Select Birder’s Blend, can increase the number of species that visit your backyard.

White-throated Sparrow

Birders who try to pump up the list of birds they see in their yards often scatter millet along the edge of a hedge or brush pile, especially during spring and fall. This will attract a wide variety of migrating birds. Most will belong to species that are common in your area, but when you search among them, you can pick out rarer ones.

As with any seed, when millet gets wet it germinates, and also can foster bacteria and fungal growth. So never scatter more than birds can eat in a day or two, and make sure that tray or platform feeders have excellent drainage.