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ATTENTION

  • 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.

ACCEPTANCE

  • 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.

RESPONSIBILITY

  • 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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SK

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%.

Gene

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.

Donnashepherd

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.

Donna

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!

Maytham

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

The Zen Birdfeeder

Sherry, typically big box stores buy niger in huge quantities of unknown quality, store it for some unknown period of time in a warehouse, in unknown heat conditions, and then sits in the store for an unknown period. For those reasons, try to buy niger from a small local source, where you can ask when the seed came in.
Seems you can't trust those sell-buy dates (which the stores can demand be future-dated how ever far in the future as they want to work with their inventory) but in most cases you CAN trust your small locally owned birdfeeding hobby shop.

Sherry   5-2-2014

how do you tell if nyjer seed is dried out before you buy it? just purchased some from LOWES DATED mar 10 2015 the finch won't touch it! garden treasures brand

The Zen Birdfeeder

Jean, we always caution against the use of grease on feeder poles in case birds get it on their feathers. It can effect their flight and they might ingest it as they preen it off their feathers. Better to place a physical barrier like a baffle on the pole.

Jean

My husband made a T-shaped pole from pipe and it is tall enough so that the squirrels cannot jump up onto it but we found that even though the pole is not really big around, the squirrels were climbing it to get to the top. My husband greased the pole and it was hysterical to watch the squirrels try to climb it...kept sliding back down towards the ground to the attraction of our rotweiller who took great pleasure in chasing them out of our yard! They don't even bother anymore to come into the yard let alone trying to get to the seed! HA!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Mark, thanks for the great feedback! Have fun feeding the birds.

Mark

In this extremely cold Michigan winter my "squirrel proof" feeder(has a heavy plastic case that slides down from any weight heavier than 4 small birds) is emptying after just a couple days with a full inch depth of shells under it. Your post was right on the money. Examining them revealed they are just the shells. It may be beneficial to go with smaller loads and even take it down when rain is in the forecast. We'll see how long that ambitious plan works!
Thanks for some great information!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Brian, there is a lot of shell waste that comes from niger seed. If you can add a tray to your finch feeder, that will help reduce the mess.
Having good fresh niger seed all the time will also help so stale seed doesn't just get dropped to the ground by birds that don't want to waste their time and energy with it.
It does help that other birds like you note (juncos, doves), will eat some of the seed that falls to the ground.
Happy birdfeeding and thanks for your question.

Brian

The finches sure love niger, but I now have a huge amount of it on the ground under the feeder! I assume some of this is just the shells? But seeing how easily the seed will fall out of the feeder when shaken I'm wondering just how much is getting wasted (I do get juncos picking through it, though). Meanwhile my wife is concerned about so much seed on the lawn damaging the grass under the feeder. Suggestions?

The Zen Birdfeeder

Carol, unfortunately if you add cheaper seed to the niger seed, the finches won't eat it, which doesn't save any money. Stick with the freshest niger seed you can buy or (in a different feeder with bigger ports) sunflower seed without shells. Goldfinches love them both. To save $$, fill your feeders only halfway. You'll see the birds, they'll find food elsewhere, and you may save a little money on your favorite hobby. Good luck!

The Zen Birdfeeder

Larry, squirrels know that the feeder has food in it and will dig around until it finds something it likes. May be they're draining the feeder and eating little of it.
Make sure your niger seed is in a specialty feeder with ports only small enough for niger to pass through. He'd have a hard time draining that!

larry smith

Until I got a squirrel proof tubefeeder my furry bandits would hang upside down on the feeder and drain it in one or two days. Not sure what squirrels hate niger because mine love it.

Carol Hurst

The finches are eating us out of house and home this winter. Is there a cheaper seed that I could
mix with the Nyger that they would like? Thanks.

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