There are two types of sunflower seeds, striped and black oil. Black oil seeds are popular for feeding wild birds in feeders, but can cause some problems with pet companion birds if you're not careful.
So What's the Difference?
Also known as "oilers," black oil sunflower seeds have thinner shells than their striped counterparts. This means that any seed-eating bird can easily crack the shell and enjoy the contents within. With the thicker shelled striped sunflower seeds, however, some species of birds -- such as sparrows -- have a difficult time eating them.
The kernels inside black oil sunflower seeds are also bigger than striped sunflower seeds, yielding a much greater outcome for very little work. This is especially good for winter feeding, when cold birds need to get fat quickly and protein without expending too much effort. As a traditional rule, the darker the sunflower seed, the higher the fat content.
Too Much of a Good Thing
For the domestic companion bird, such extra fat is not always necessary in their diet. The well-kept bird should have a balanced diet of fat, vitamins and proteins. These stay-at-home feathered friends won't be migrating or needing to gain extra weight for the winter, so they don't require additional fat.
Black oil sunflower seeds make an excellent treat for the indoor companion bird, but should be a part of everyday diets in limited quantities. Birds who eat largely seed-based diets are at risk for malnutrition and vitamin deficiencies. By keeping them on a balanced diet and using seeds as training devices or treats, you can be sure your feathered friend will be happy and healthy for a long time.