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  • Our eyes and ears should be open and alert to the natural wonders that surround us every day. Take time to look out our windows to see the birds that visit us and open our windows to hear them. Walk around whatever space we have to enjoy the birds in nature. Every day, work on improving our powers of observation.


  • Nature happens. We cannot MAKE natural things happen (or NOT happen). We can create habitats to encourage natural things to happen around us, but there are no guarantees.


  • Birdfeeding comes with responsibilities to the birds and the environment we share with them. If you are unwilling to accept these responsibilities, you shouldn’t feed the birds. We also have a responsibility to share these natural wonders with the next generation.
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« Wings on Wednesday | Main | A Birdfeeder's Nemesis Bird »

January 13, 2011


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The Zen Birdfeeder

Fishrman - it's kind of hard to tell but look for seed that is dark black and shiny looking. Avoid duller looking seed, grayish seed, dusty seed. Avoid it if it has lots of other stuff in it besides niger seed. Best bet is to buy it from a local, small birdfood store like Wild Birds Unlimiteds which do not warehouse seed.


Brand new Niger feeder purchased and I only bought 3 pounds of the bulk seed from a farm store that I usually don't get seed from. Birds are completely ignoring it. I think I have some old seed!! Is there a way to tell if it is to old?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Carol, thanks for sharing! We've seen juncos eating niger before, fun to see!


The juncos are eating the nyger seed this winter - haven't noticed that before.

Dorothy M. Self

My dog ate some of the nyjer seed I purchased for the birds. Will this seed hurt my dog?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Charlie, As far as finch feeders with perches or with screens, we like to start people out with a finch feeder with perches. Then as they add a second feeder (finches are sitters!), a mesh finch can make sense.
In areas that get Common Redpolls and/or Pine Siskins, we love recommending the mesh because of how many birds it can hold. Seeing a feeder packed with these finches can be amazing!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Karen, sometimes the birds take a little while to find the feeder, so spread a little on the ground. If they still don't come, sometimes moving the feeder to another location will help. Good luck!


Hi Carol: My mom wants a Niger bird feeder for Christmas, for Chickadees and Finches - she's a huge bird lover and has much luck with these birds. Any suggestions on where to buy one? Should I use Niger food as well? She lives in MN so the feeder and food will have to be OK with our climate.

Charlie Wertheimer

Do you recommend nyjer seed feeders with perches or just screen?


Good Morning,

I have a bird feeder that uses nyjer seed. I was not getting any birds at this feeder. Replaced old seed with new seed just the other day (based on your article). Still no birds.Any other suggestions?

The Zen Birdfeeder

SK, how interesting! I wonder if they were young birds trying to find out if they liked it? Thanks for sharing your observation.
Eagleyepatrick, I'd say your best bet is the compost. I'm glad to hear you're cleaning up under your birdfeeders - it's healthier for the birds. Thanks for reading and happy birdfeeding!


Hi Nancy sorry the first post for you. what can I use nyger shells for? can I use it in the compost heap? I buy 20kgs at a which leaves a lot of waste around where feed the birds ,I am blessed to have every garden bird on the list of garden birds plus more so I have a lot of waste most goes on the compost heap but not too sure about the nyger husks. kind regards patrick
your input is also very welcome, regards


We used to put out sunflower seed in one feeder and niger in the feeder beside it and this summer temporarily stopped the sunflower seed. Now the CARDINALS are eating the niger!!!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Gene, here's the nutritional values of the sterilized seed we sell at our Wild Birds Unlimited shop:
Minimum Protein 13%; Minimum Crude Fat 27%; Maximum Crude Fiber 19%.


Do you know whether the imported sterilized nyjer seed has any nutritional value after being heat sterilized.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Judy, I don't know if any cultures eat niger seed but I do know it is used to extract oil to be used in cooking.

Judy Downtain

can people eat nYger(thistle)SEED?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Donna, thanks for visiting an reporting on your chickadees eating niger seed. Mine do it too!
Happy birdfeeding!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Rob, if there is a great deal of niger shell waste, it could indeed kill the vegetation below. What I am not able to tell you is whether the shells themselves contain compounds that kill vegetation (which sunflower shells contain).
Best to rake up shell waste of any kind on a regular basis, both to encourage growth under the feeders and also for the birds' health.


I sought out this page because I was sure I saw chickadees eating the Niger seed. The finches usually run them off, but they do try! :)

Thanks for the informative article.


Rob Ransom

I've recently lost the Lantanas under the Nyger feeder. Is the large amount of shell waste responsible? Does Nyger inhibit the growth of other plants? I have rigged up a tray under the mesh feeder that catches most of it but quite a lot somehow gets past.

As to the species that it attracts in my back yard, is as you might expect, finches, gold and house. English Sparrows have now developed a taste for the high priced spread now to my annoyance.

The Zen Birdfeeder

Duncan, I'm sorry I don't know if racing pigeons like niger seed. What I do know is that a bird in their same family, the Mourning Dove, will eat niger seed that is on the ground.

Susan Martin

For several days we have seen Indigo Buntings at our niger sock feeder! What a treat! Along with the goldfinches, the indigos are beautiful! But we ran out of niger seed, ran to our local farm/hardware store and purchased seed from them in bulk. It was called thistle seed. Is this the same as Niger? But the buntings and the goldfinches will not touch it! Do you think it's all dry and so unappealing? Or is it because it's thistle seed? We so hope we didn't lose the Indigo buntings!


I fed my Canaries the Niger seed and im wondering if it's good for them or not?

duncan cowan

is niger seeds any good for racing pigeons

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