About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Does Nyjer thistle seed go rancid?

I have some Nyjer seed from last year that I keep in a tin can in the garage. Lately when I fill the feeder the birds have been turning their nose up at the seed. Does the thistle go bad? My sunflower seeds have just come into bloom but I want them to know I also have high quality Nyjer seed available just for the finches. ~ Lansing, MI

Nyjer is a very popular seed with the American Goldfinches but it can dry out fast. Make sure your Nyjer seed is fresh. Bird shops like our Wild Birds Unlimited - East Lansing store has a seed delivery every Tuesday. In the summer months buy it in smaller quantities or store it in the refrigerator so it stays fresh.

To test your seeds’ freshness, pinch the seed with your fingernails and see if any oil comes out. The finches use their bills to twist the seed and sip the oil and then drop the shell. If your seed has dried out your feeder will be skipped.

Make sure the feeder is clean and free of any mold. Finches are finicky and avoid dirty feeders. It’s especially important to keep feeders clean because the finches gather in huge numbers in the fall and we don’t want them to spread diseases to each other or eat off dirty feeders.

American Goldfinches are also notorious for leaving a tube feeder half full. Don’t just top off a feeder with fresh seed. Empty the older seed (if it's still good) into a different container, fill the bottom of the feeder with new seed and top it off with the older seed. Goldfinches will probably eat down to that certain level again and then you’ll have to repeat the process.

As you know, there are also a lot of plants that attract finches. These birds love to flock to any flowers that form seed heads. If you garden with finches in mind, you get to enjoy them at the feeders and riding the flowers in search of seeds.

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