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STEM Fair Project. What type of birdseed do birds prefer? Frannie Johnson| Mrs. Johnson| Northview Elementary School. Statement of the Question. What type of bird seed is preferred by the birds who feed at our front yard feeding station, black oil seed, or mixed seed?. Project Overview.

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stem fair project

STEM Fair Project

What type of birdseed do birds prefer?

Frannie Johnson| Mrs. Johnson| Northview Elementary School

statement of the question
Statement of the Question
  • What type of bird seed is preferred by the birds who feed at our front yard feeding station, black oil seed, or mixed seed?
project overview
Project Overview
  • Our family has a tradition of feeding birds at several feeding stations in our back yard. We currently offer three types of seed: black oil seed, striped sunflower seed, and mixed seed. We must buy and store three types of seed. We wondered if our birds might be just as satisfied with one type of seed. That would make feeding the birds much easier. The goal of my project is to determine if the birds prefer one type of seed over the others.

The most important ideas from my research were:

  • Some birds prefer certain kinds of seeds over others, while some birds are not picky eaters, and will eat just about anything. So if you are hoping to attract a certain kind of bird, you should research what kind of seed it prefers. If you are hoping to discourage certain birds from coming to your feeders, don’t offer the kind of seed they prefer.
  • Wasted seed ( seed that is not eaten but that remains in the feeder or on the ground) will quickly start to decay. This decaying seed attracts bacteria and molds that might harm the birds that come to your feeder. So it is important to only offer those seeds that will be eaten quickly.
  • Shelled seeds might be preferred by many birds. Shelled seeds also reduce the amount of decaying seed left in the feeder or on the ground. But shelled seed is very expensive, so many people may not be able to afford it.
  • Mixed seed is the least expensive type of birdseed, but much of it is not eaten by birds. Most of it is left in the feeder or on the ground and will start to decay soon.
  • CONTROLLED variables – these variables will be kept the same:

- type of feeder

- date feed is offered

- time of day feed is offered

- length of time feed is offered

- amount of feed offered

  • INDEPENDENT variable – this variable is the one I changed on purpose:

- type of seed: black oil, striped sunflower, or mixed


Dependent: This is the variable I am measuring

- Amount of feed consumed


prediction or hypothesis
Prediction or Hypothesis
  • I predict that the birds will prefer the black oil seed over the striped sunflower seed or mixed seed because I read that this is the most popular type of seed. I usually see a lot of mixed seed on the ground by our feeders. That makes me think that this type of seed is not very popular with our birds. So I think the birds will consume the least mixed seed.
  • 3 identical Droll Yankee tube feeders
  • Black oil seed, striped sunflower seed, and mixed seed
  • Measuring cup
  • 1. Fill each feeder with 4 cups of one type of seed.
  • 2. Place the feeders 6 feet apart in the same front yard, at the same time of day.
  • 3. Leave each feeder outside for exactly 4 hours.
  • 4. Remove feeders and measure the remaining seed to determine amount of feed consumed.
  • 5. Repeat on 3 days with same weather conditions.
data observations

All amounts are measured in cups.

  • The birds at our front yard feeders definitely preferred the black oil seed over both other types of seeds. Each day the amount of black seed eaten was greater than the other types of seed. The striped sunflower seed was the second most popular seed, while the least amount of seed eaten was the mixed seed.
  • Based on these results, our family might be able to purchase only black oil and striped sunflower seed to keep our birds happy.
works cited
Works Cited
  • Cornell Lab of Ornithology website: 2011. Online. 2 Sep. 2012. Available:

Harrison, George. Backyard Bird Watching for Kids. New York: Willow Creek

Press, 1997.

National Bird Feeding Society website: 2009-2011. Online. 2 Sep. 2011.


Nolting, Karen. Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists). New

York: Sandpiper, 1999.