does thistle bird seed go bad

Nyjer seed (also referred to as Nyger or thistle), is a small, black seed high in oil content, making it an excellent source of energy for the birds who eat it. Many birders choose to offer Nyjer in their bird feeders throughout the winter months since many non-migratory birds feed on the nutritious seed.

Commonly mistaken as thistle, Nyjer is not derived from the same plant species as the noxious weed. Natively from Africa, the Guizotia abyssinica is an annual herb, grown for its edible oil and seed. To prevent the germination of Nyjer plant from birdseed, the USDA requires treatment in order to sterilize it before it can be sold and used to feed birds.

Known as favorite feed for Finches, Nyjer seed can also attract other small-billed, seed-eating bird species. As always, the type of birds that show up at your bird feeders are largely driven by your geographic location. Here is a list of bird species who are known to feed on Nyjer seed:

The best type of bird feeders for feeding Nyjer are mesh or sock feeders. To prevent extra mess and wasted seed on the ground, look for a feeder that has a seed catching tray at the bottom. The seed tray will catch any uneaten seed that falls from the feeder and provide the birds with another opportunity to feed. When filling bird feeders with Nyjer, try to pour quickly to prevent seed waste. Oftentimes, pouring this small seed too slowly can cause more spillage.

If you’re looking for a bird feeder with more versatility than a mesh feeder, all Nature’s Way tube feeders come with thistle inserts that allow you to fill them with small seed like Nyjer. Refrain from using seed blends with thistle inserts since larger seed can block the thin ports. Wherever you decide to hang your feeder, make sure it’s secure and stable to prevent it being disturbed and spilling seed.

Because of its high oil content and thin shell, Nyjer is known to spoil quickly – even in as little as a few days. There is also a chance that the seed could dry out prematurely during the heat treatment process, potentially spoiling it before being bagged and sold. Once the seed dries out, birds will turn to alternative sources to feed. If the birds aren’t visiting a new feeder filled with Nyjer, try changing the seed or buying a new bag before writing it off as a problem with the feeder. We recommend replacing Nyjer seed every few weeks to ensure it doesn’t spoil and harm the birds.

Make sure to thoroughly clean your feeders on a regular basis to prevent seed buildup and bacteria growth. If you notice mold growth, discard the seed immediately and sanitize your feeder by rinsing and scrubbing it with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water.

Sign up or log in Sign up using Google Sign up using Email and Password

Required, but never shown

Nyjer’s thin shell and high oil content cause it to spoil quickly, sometimes in a matter of days. Additionally, there’s a chance that the heat treatment will cause the seed to dry out too soon, spoiling it before it’s bagged and sold. Birds will find other food sources after the seed dries up. Before assuming that there is a feeder issue, try replacing the seed or purchasing a new bag if the birds aren’t visiting a new feeder that is filled with Nyjer. To prevent it from spoiling and endangering the birds, we advise changing the Nyjer seed every few weeks.

Nature’s Way offers tube feeders that are ideal for those seeking greater versatility than mesh feeders. The inserts for thistles enable you to fill the feeders with small seed, such as Nyjer. Larger seeds can obstruct the thin ports, so avoid using seed blends with thistle inserts. Make sure your feeder is stable and secure wherever you hang it to avoid it being moved and spilling seed.

Nyjer seed, well-known for being a favorite meal of finches, can draw in other species of small-billed, seed-eating birds. As always, your geographic location has a big influence on the kinds of birds that visit your bird feeders. The following list of bird species has been observed to consume Nyjer seed:

Frequently misidentified as thistle, Nyjer is not a member of the same plant family as the invasive weed. The annual herb Guizotia abyssinica is native to Africa and is grown for its edible seed and oil. The USDA mandates that birdseed be sterilized before it can be sold and fed to birds in order to stop the Nyjer plant from sprouting.

Thistle, or nyjer seed, is a small, black seed with a high oil content that provides birds that eat it with a great source of energy. As many non-migratory birds eat the nutrient-rich seed, many birdwatchers opt to provide Nyjer in their bird feeders throughout the winter.

3 Answers 3 Sorted by:

It looks like birds wont eat it once the seed dries out and not all birds like it so I would make sure that you have the right types of birds in your area. Sometimes the birds would also rather eat wild seeds instead of from feeders.

Also, its not actually thistle seed, its just called that for marketing purposes and its sterilized by heat so you dont need to worry about thistles coming up from the seeds.

We have several feeders. Chickadees will eat nyger until the sunflower feeder is empty. It appears that the gold and purple finches favor the nyger seed. As of now, only juncos consume millet seed, which is typically found in inexpensive mixes, and even then, only after it has been on the ground for about a week.

The black oil sunflower seeds and the lard-oatmeal bricks I make are by far the most popular items at our feeders.

With “thistle” seed, I’ve had varying degrees of success. Some batches disappear quite quickly, while others remain in the feeder until I empty it. I believe it depends on how long they are kept in storage before being sold. Although goldfinches favor it, I’ve also occasionally seen purple finches and juncos on the feeder. Unexpectedly, house sparrows will consume it; however, they have a preference for seed that can be trampled onto the ground. Mesh bags occasionally function fairly well, but in general, I’ve found that the doll Yankees-style tube feeders with slits work incredibly well. The drawback is that while a mesh bag can be thrown away if the seed gets moldy, the feeder needs to be thoroughly cleaned. If the seed isn’t receiving any response, I would suggest changing it more recently. At least once a week. I placed it on the ground, but it’s not ideal if you don’t want rodents to intrude. Now I just add it to the compost bin. In addition, I found it fascinating that goldfinches adore sunflower heads. They will use the “top” of their heads as a feeding platform as they hang upside-down, carefully selecting the seeds, cracking them open, and devouring the hearts. We now grow sunflowers every year, mainly for that.

We appreciate you answering a question on The Great Outdoors Stack Exchange!

  • Please be sure to answer the question. Provide details and share your research!.
  • Asking for help, clarification, or responding to other answers.
  • expressing opinions and supporting them with references or firsthand knowledge

To learn more, see our tips on writing great answers. Draft saved Draft discarded.

FAQ

Will birds eat old Nyjer seed?

Serve Only Fresh Nyjer Seed Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman say, “Nyjer is wonderful for attracting goldfinches and other small seed-eaters, but it loses its appeal after it dries out, which can happen within a few months. Birds can tell when the seeds have gone dry and stale.

Can you use expired bird seed?

Keep your bird feeders filled with a one- or two-day supply of seed to ensure it is eaten quickly and stays fresh. Discard moldy, rancid or foul-smelling seed, because it can be a health hazard to birds.

How long can bird seed be kept?

How Long Does Birdseed Last? Stored properly, birdseed stays fresh for 6-12 months, and sometimes longer. A longer timeframe hinges on the seed being protected from extreme heat and from moisture, which causes mold and mildew to grow.