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Tips for feeding Nyjer seed

Tips for feeding Nyjer seed

What is Nyjer bird seed?

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.

nyjer nyger thistle bird seed
Nyjer/Nyger seed

What types of birds eat Nyjer?

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:

Feeding tips

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.

finch bird feeder
Funnel Flip-Top Mesh Finch Feeder (Model# FFM1)

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.

thistle inserts on tube bird feeder
Thistle inserts are included on all Nature’s Way tube feeders

 

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.

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Summer backyard birding tips

Summer backyard birding tips

As nesting season comes to an end and alternative food sources are in abundance, you may see less activity at your bird feeders in the heat of the summer months. But don’t let this discourage you from birding! The birds are still present in your backyard, laying low as they begin to prepare for fall migration. Continue to provide your backyard birds with food, water and shelter and make the most out of summer birding with these tips!

Don’t stop feeding the birds

With insects, fruit, and seeding plants providing plenty of nutrition for a bird’s summer diet, they may find it less necessary to visit a bird feeder. But even if you don’t see as much activity at your feeders, keeping them full throughout the entire season gives the birds a consistent source of nourishment and may make them more likely return throughout the year or even next season. Keep your feeders stocked, cleaned, and if possible, in the shade to keep the seed or nectar fresh longer and to provide a cool and comfortable place for the birds to feed. If feeding suet, choose a no-melt variety that will keep longer when exposed to hot temperatures.

birds feeding from farmhouse vertical hopper bird feeder

Plant bird-friendly vegetation

To attract more birds to your backyard, consider adding bird-friendly native vegetation to your landscape. The additional nutrition from the fruit, seeds, nectar and insects who inhabit the plant will keep the birds coming back to your yard. Do some research on the birds in your area and find out which flowers, bushes and trees they prefer and get planting!

Note: It is advised to avoid the use of pesticides on plants since they could eliminate beneficial insects that can improve the health of the plants. Consider adding a beneficial insect house near your plants as a chemical-free alternative.

Provide fresh water

All birds drink water and need to bathe regularly to keep their feathers clean. Providing a consistent source of clean and fresh water from a bird bath, fountain or a shallow pond will keep your backyard birds cool and hydrated in the heat of the summer.

It’s important to keep your water source clean and change the water often to prevent bacteria from forming and spreading amongst the birds. Try to place your water source in the shade to keep it from drying out and getting too hot in the sun. If your water source is stagnant, you can add a fountain to keep the water moving and prevent it from becoming dirty quickly.

Provide nesting sites

In addition to setting up bird feeders, another way to attract birds to your yard is to provide adequate nesting sites like birdhouses, bushes, dense vegetation, or tall trees. If birds have their nest close by, they will still be present in and around your yard even if they don’t visit your bird feeders.

two bluebirds on nature's way bluebird house

Become an early birder

As the saying goes, the early bird gets the worm! To beat the summer heat, birds forage and visit feeders in the early morning hours so they don’t have to expend as much energy staying cool. Try waking up with the birds and watching for increased activity.

 

As always, be patient and don’t be afraid to try something new to get the most enjoyment out of summer birding season!

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How to use the Handle-it Bag Clip

How to use the Handle-it Bag Clip

The Handle-it bag clip is the all-in-one solution for using and storing big bulky bags of lawn fertilizer, bird seed, pet food, and more. It’s simple to install, reduces spills and makes it so much easier to lift and carry big, bulky bags using the built-in handle! Make your outdoor and indoor chores less of a hassle with these benefits:

  • Built-in handle makes lifting and carrying bags easier
  • Built-in funnel and pour spout enable easy precision pouring to reduce mess
  • Two-point latching system and screw cap ensure a tight closure
  • All-in-one storage solution eliminates the need for additional storage bins
  • Fits bags up to 16" wide
  • Holds up to 40 pounds
  • Dimensions: 5" H x 15.25" W x 3.5" D

carry pour and store with the handle-it bag clip

For those with a seemingly endless to-do list, here are a few ways that Handle-it can help save you time and energy while keeping you organized.

Gardening

From house plants and patio containers to vegetable gardens and landscapes, the Handle-it bag clip can help you transport heavy bags of soil amendments and plant food to different areas of your house and yard with ease. You don’t need to worry about the bags spilling on the way with the two-point latching system and screw cap. Since Handle-it lets you store the contents right inside the bag, you can keep your garage or shed clean and organized.

Handle-it can help you with:

  • Soil amendments
  • Plant fertilizer

Lawn Maintenance

Yardwork can be hard work but using the Handle-it bag clip can help you easily move around the yard with heavy bags of lawn care products. Lifting bags of fertilizer and grass seed to pour into a spreader takes less effort with the help of a bag clip. Plus, you don’t have to worry about missing the mark and making a mess since the built-in funnel and pour spout let you pour with precision. And at the end of long day of outdoor chores, the Handle-it bag clip lets you confidently seal and store your bags of lawn maintenance products without worry of them spilling or spoiling.

Handle-it can help you with:

  • Fertilizer
  • Grass seed
  • Ice melt
pouring bag of grass seed into spreader using handle-it bag clip

Pet Owners

Keeping your furry, finned, or equine friends fed is a daily task that can become difficult if you buy pet food or litter in bulk. Large bags of food or litter can be tough to lift and challenging to pour, but the Handle-it bag clip can make it easier with the durable built-in handle, funnel and pour spout. Keep your pet food fresher longer by keeping it tightly sealed right in the bag, eliminating the need for extra storage bins and avoiding the extra time transferring food from the bag to the bin. The Handle-it bag clip has a two-point latching system and screw cap that ensures a tight closure with no risk of spilling.

Handle-it can help you with:

  • Dog kibble
  • Cat chow
  • Clumping cat litter
  • Litter pellets
  • Horse feed
  • Fish food
  • Bird seed

pouring bag of dog food into bowl using handle-it bag clip

Backyard Birding

The Handle-it bag clip was designed with backyard birders in mind to help you carry, pour and store large bags of bird seed. When you use Handle-it, you can transport bulky seed and feed bags to multiple bird feeders in just one trip. With the built-in funnel and pour spout, you pour out the exact amount you need in the precise direction you want it, getting more seed in the bird feeder and less on the ground. The seed can be stored inside the bag with the secure latching system and screw cap so you don’t have to worry about it going bad or making a mess.

Handle-it can help you with:

  • Bird seed

pouring bag of bird seed using handle-it bag clip

More ways to use Handle-it

The uses for Handle-it are seemingly endless! There are surely more solutions that aren’t listed here, but here are a few additional ways the Handle-it bag clip can help you with your chores and hobbies:

  • Wood smoker pellets
  • Bath salts
  • Deer corn
  • Crafting supplies like beads, sand, and soy wax pellets

 

Learn more about how to use and install the Handle-it bag clip.

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Common hummingbird feeder challenges and solutions

Common hummingbird feeder challenges and solutions

Setting up a nectar feeder is one of the simplest ways to attract hummingbirds to your yard. Being a responsible hummingbird host can sometimes come with challenges, so we’ve put together the solutions to some of the most common hummingbird feeder questions to help you get the most out of your hummingbird feeder!

hummingbird flying to a hummingbird feeder

Why aren’t the hummingbirds coming to my feeder?

There are a few different factors that could be causing a hummingbird to choose a different source of food. Hummingbirds are migratory birds, meaning they leave and return from a specific area seasonally. As they return from migration and end up in their ultimate destination, they will remember the source of their first meals - oftentimes coming back to the same feeders repeatedly. For the best chance of hummingbirds discovering your feeder, it is recommended to have it up and ready before they return from their winter migration. Be sure to research the migratory pattern of hummingbirds in your area to make sure you haven’t put your feeder out too late, since this can cause them to overlook it later in the season.

One thing to keep in mind is that all birds are creatures of habit. They may be hesitant to try out a new feeder, especially if you have been offering nectar in other feeders – a tried and true food source. It could also take some time for the hummingbirds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of drinking from a new feeding port. It may take several weeks before the hummingbirds find and begin feeding regularly from a new feeder. Before making any changes, try waiting at least two weeks to give them enough time to discover your feeder.

Here are some more tips to help attract birds to your hummingbird feeder:

  • Take down other feeders: Hummingbirds may prefer to feed from dependable food sources like existing feeders. If you have other nectar feeders in your yard, try temporarily taking them down until the hummingbirds find and use the new feeder. Once they are regularly using the new feeder, existing feeders can go back up.
  • Increase the sugar content: Try slightly increasing the sugar content of your nectar. This will immediately reward the hummingbirds for visiting your feeder and encourage them to come back. Once until the hummingbirds are regularly drinking from your feeder, you can then lower the water to sugar ratio back down to the recommended 4:1.
  • Keep it clean: It is recommended nectar feeders be cleaned at least every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush it with warm water. You must also change the nectar frequently - at least twice a week. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, change it more often. If you notice any mold, take down the feeder immediately, give it a thorough cleaning and follow the steps below to prevent mold growth on your feeder.
  • Change locations: Placing feeders near flower beds or planters may naturally attract more hummingbirds to your feeder. Feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet from a window or farther than 15 feet from a window to help prevent fatal window collisions.

What should I put in my hummingbird feeder?

The formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. We do not recommend adding red dye to the nectar mixture. Cover and allow the nectar to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.

hummingbird feeder filled with clear nectar

How do I keep mold from growing on my hummingbird feeder?

It is inevitable that sugar water will eventually break down and cause mold, fungus, or other harmful bacteria to grow inside of a hummingbird feeder. To prevent mold growth, hummingbird feeders should be taken down and cleaned at least every 4-5 days. To clean, take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Take apart your feeder and flush it with warm water. If mold is present, you can sanitize the feeder by placing all dishwasher-safe parts in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning. If washing by hand, soak and clean the feeder thoroughly with a solution of ¼ cup bleach to one gallon of water. Rinse thoroughly and allow to dry completely before refilling.

Since mold growth can be accelerated by heat, especially in the warmer summer months, trying keeping your feeder in a shaded area. Keeping the nectar cool helps to delay fermentation which is the process that causes nectar to spoil and mold to grow.

How do I prevent bees at my hummingbird feeder?

Bees, wasps, and hornets are hardly welcome guests at any feeder and can be harmful to hummingbirds if stung. Typically, if bees don’t have access to the nectar, they should eventually move on from the feeder to a more rewarding source. Here are some additional tips to help deter the bees:

  • Keep it clean: Make sure there is no exposed nectar on around the outside of your feeder and thoroughly clean it with warm soapy water every 4-5 days.
  • Change it up: Periodically move your feeder. Birds will usually look around and find a relocated feeder, but insects will not.
  • Lower the nectar level: If using a dish style feeder, try decreasing the amount of nectar in your in the dish to keep it lower than the feeding ports. This will make it more difficult for bees to reach. Keep in mind that a hummingbird’s tongue is twice as long as its beak so it can easily reach near the bottom of the dish.
  • Get in the shade: If the feeder is currently in the sun, try moving it to a more shaded area.

How do I keep ants off my hummingbird feeder?

Although hummingbirds do eat insects, they do not eat ants. The presence of ants on your hummingbird feeder can prevent them from using it, or the ants may enter the feeder and contaminate the nectar which can be harmful to hummingbirds. Here are some ant-proofing tips to try:

  • Use an ant moat: Many hummingbird feeders have built-in ant moats, which trap ants in a small cup of water before they have the opportunity to reach the feeder. If your feeder does not come with an ant moat, you may choose to purchase one separately. Be sure to keep it full of water! If the weather is particularly hot and the water is evaporating quickly, check it regularly to prevent it from sitting empty.

    ant moat
  • Keep it clean: Make sure there is no exposed nectar on around the outside of your feeder and thoroughly clean it with warm soapy water every 4-5 days.
  • Change it up: Periodically move your feeder. Birds will usually look around and find a relocated feeder, but insects will not.
  • Get in the shade: If the feeder is currently in the sun, try moving it to a more shaded area.
  • Try fishing line: You may try hanging your feeder using fishing line, as it is very difficult for ants to climb. Keep in mind this may not be feasible for heavier feeders.
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How to attract birds to a new seed feeder

How to attract birds to a new seed feeder

You found the perfect bird feeder. You picked a great spot in your yard. You filled it with seed. And now you wait patiently (or impatiently) for your first visitor! But what if you’re not getting many – or any – birds at your new feeder?

First things first – why aren’t the birds coming to my feeder? There are many factors that could be causing a bird to choose a different source of food. One thing to keep in mind is that birds are creatures of habit. They may be hesitant to try out a new feeder, especially if you have been offering seed in other feeders – a tried and true food source. It may also take some time for the birds to get used to a new landing pattern or learn the mechanics of getting out the seed.

6 birds feeding from nature's way bird feeder

Here are some tips and tricks to try to attract birds to a new bird feeder!

Choose the right location

If you already own and are having success with other bird feeders, try placing the new feeder near the existing feeders. Place your feeder roughly 10 feet from a natural shelter such as trees or shrubs to offer a resting place for birds between feedings and quick refuge from any predators. Be careful not to put feeders much closer than 10 feet from trees or shrubs since it can increase the likelihood of squirrels. Remember, feeders should be hung or mounted closer than 3 feet from a window or farther than 15 feet from a window to help prevent fatal window collisions.

Try a new seed type

Offer a universally popular type of seed in your feeder, even if the feeder will eventually be filled with a different type of seed. Try using black oil sunflower seed or a blend with a high concentration of black oil sunflower seeds as this feed attracts the widest variety of birds and is the healthiest option for them. Be aware that certain seed types, like thistle/Nyger, can spoil quickly. It’s important to regularly inspect and change out seed to keep it fresh. Once the birds are accustomed to using the new feeder you can gradually mix in a different type of seed to attract new birds. Here is a list of seed types that attract specific types of birds.

tube feeder filled with black oil sunflower seed

Take down other feeders

Birds may prefer to feed from dependable food sources like existing feeders. If you have other bird feeders in your yard, try temporarily taking them down until the birds find and use the new feeder. Once they are regularly using the new feeder, existing feeders can go back up.

Keep it clean

Even if your feeder hasn’t had many visitors yet, changes in weather or heat can cause dirt or bacteria to form on a new feeder after a few weeks. Feeders should be cleaned at least once a month. Clean bird feeders and feeding areas will attract more birds and keep all backyard birds healthier for you to enjoy!

Timing is key

There is no “wrong” time to put up a new feeder, but there are a few factors that may cause the birds a delay in using a new feeder at certain times throughout the year.

  • Nesting: When nesting and caring for their hatchlings, many birds focus on eating other food sources, like insects, for additional nutrition and protein. Feeders can naturally experience a lull in visitors at these times.
  • Dietary requirements: Almost all birds have different dietary needs depending on the time of year due to their breeding, nesting and migration patterns, so they may move to or away from feeders seasonally.
  • Food availability: There are typically fewer birds frequenting feeders during the late summer and early fall months. This is because there are usually lots of alternative natural food sources available. Birds eat insects, spiders, seeds, nuts, berries, fruit, worms, and more. When these are easy to find and abundant, most birds prefer them.

Be patient

It may take several weeks before the birds find and begin feeding regularly from a new feeder. Before making any changes, try waiting at least two weeks to give the birds enough time to discover your feeder. As you try new locations, seed types or other changes, be sure to give the birds enough time in between to acclimate to the new modifications.

 

It can require some patience as the birds adjust to using a new feeder, but with persistence and perseverance it will be worth the wait when you start to receive regular visitors at your feeder!

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Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

Homemade Hummingbird Nectar Recipe

As the days grow longer and the temperatures start to rise, you should begin seeing more and more signs that Spring has arrived - and with it, the hummingbirds! You may live in an area where you find yourself lucky enough to host hummingbirds year-round, but for the rest of us, we reluctantly say goodbye to these little beauties each fall and impatiently await their return in the spring. If you're like us, you find yourself checking the hummingbird migration map daily for sightings in your area. As we watch those little hummingbird icons inch ever closer, below are some quick hummingbird feeder tips to make sure you're ready.

Hummingbird Nectar

The tried and true formula for hummingbird food is simple: about one part white granulated sugar to four parts water. This 20% sugar concentration best mirrors the sugar concentration naturally found in flowers preferred by hummingbirds. Also, the natural sugars found in flower nectar are primarily sucrose, like that of white granulated sugar.

Boil the water for approximately 2 minutes, add the sugar, and stir to dissolve thoroughly. Cover and allow to cool before using or pouring into a clean storage bottle. A large batch of nectar can be made and stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. This makes refilling the feeder easy so you won't mind doing it every few days.

Additional suggestions:

  • We do NOT recommend adding red food dye or any artificial coloring to the nectar.
  • Make sure to thoroughly clean your feeders before the first use of the season and before each subsequent refill (see below for more on cleaning).
  • We only recommend using regular white granulated sugar in nectar preparation.
    • Do NOT use honey. Honey is comprised primarily of fructose and glucose and therefore hummingbirds digest this much less efficiently. Also, fermentation and mold growth occurs much more rapidly in nectar solutions using honey than those from granulated sugar.
    • Do NOT use artificial sweeteners! Remember, these sweeteners contain no calories, which means they provide no energy to the hummingbirds.
  • Higher concentrations of nectar can be used. In fact, offering nectar with higher sugar concentrations early in the season and again in the late summer can help hummingbirds recover from and prepare for migration. (Don't go too overboard though! Studies show that hummingbird nectar concentration preference caps off at about 50% or 2 parts water to 1 part sugar.)

Cleaning Your Hummingbird Feeder

In order to be a responsible host, you must keep your feeder clean and full of fresh nectar. Every four or five days take down your feeder and discard any unconsumed sugar water. Be aware, in periods of extreme heat (or if you hang your feeder in direct sunlight) the nectar may need to be changed more frequently as the fermentation process can happen quicker. If you notice that the nectar is turning milky, or that white strings or black spots are growing in it, pour the nectar out and clean your feeder immediately.

Take apart your feeder and flush with hot tap water – a little vinegar can be added to the water to help prevent mold from becoming established. Visually inspect the feeder for black mold. If mold is present, place all parts in dishwasher for a thorough cleaning for a glass feeder. For a thorough cleaning on plastic feeders, use a pipe cleaner or small brush when washing the feeder parts by hand with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts hot water, or with a mild solution of unscented dish detergent and warm water. Be sure to rinse thoroughly with water and let dry completely before refilling. 

This is where selecting your hummingbird feeders carefully becomes important! Always look for a hummingbird feeder with removable parts to make a thorough cleaning more feasible. Check out our selection of Easy Fill & Clean™ Nectar Feeders here!

Keeping Your Hummingbird Feeder Full

The need to change the nectar depends on the temperatures, where the feeder is hung, and number and frequency of hummingbirds feeding at your feeder. If the birds are not emptying your feeder between cleanings, it's unnecessary and wasteful to fill it completely. Fill only with the amount of nectar they will consume in a few days. Remember, hummingbirds to not use their beaks as straws for drinking nectar. Rather, they stick their beaks into the feeding port and then extend their tongue into the nectar. A hummingbird's tongue is quite long and has a very different structure than you might think, allowing them to reach rather deep for a drink. Depending on the species of hummingbird (and the individual bird) they will be able to reach pretty far down in a feeder to drink the nectar.  

Over time you will get a feel for how much nectar to put in the feeder. 

Happy Hummingbird Viewing!

Feel free to share your hummingbird stories with us in the comment section below - or find us on social media!

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