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.
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:
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.
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.