About Wild Bird Feeds

Did you just purchase a bag of Nyjer thistle seed but you’re not attracting any finch to your thistle feeder?

Caution must be taken to assure the thistle seed you purchase is fresh or the finch you are trying to attract will reject it. Nyjer thistle seed is imported from Ethiopia and India. When it reaches North America it is sterilized by heat treatment to deter the germination of noxious weeds. This starts a drying out of the oils in the seed which is what attracts the finch. If sterilized Nyjer thistle seed is then warehoused for extended periods of time before it reaches the shelf for the consumer to purchase, such as at big box stores, hardware stores, and farm stores, it can lead to the oils drying out even more. At that point the finch will ignore it.

At the Wild Bird Habitat Stores, as we hope with many specialty bird stores, we receive weekly shipments to assure our bird feeds are fresh and of the highest quality. Wild Bird Habitat buys directly from Des Moines Feed to assure all 20 varieties of the wild bird feeds we stock are fresh. Des Moines Feed generally receives shipments of Nyjer thistle seed within days from reaching ports in the U.S. At that time we have Des Moines Feed re-clean the Nyjer seed to remove any dust, foreign debris, and immature Nyjer seeds. This makes certain that the customers at Wild Bird Habitat have regular access to the highest quality Nyjer thistle seed available.

If you opt to purchase a pre-packaged finch mix you may be surprised much of what it contains is filler seeds such as canary grass seed, flax, and red millet. The best finch mix is 50% Nyjer thistle seed and 50% ground sunflower chips. You may purchase these seed separately and mix it yourself or purchase it pre-mixed at the Wild Bird Habitat Stores or your local bird feeding center.

Did you just get a great deal on a big bag of a general wild bird seed mix at the local general merchandise store but it doesn’t attract very many birds and the ones it does seem to scatter it on the ground under the bird feeder?

Many inexpensive general wild bird mixes contain filler seeds such as Milo, wheat, red millet, and other products that songbirds and many of our favorite backyard birds do not eat. Some bags may even list “assorted grail products”. As much as 40% of a bag of bird seed that contains these filler seeds can end up uneaten and wasted on the ground, doubling or even tripling the cost of that inexpensive bag of wild bird feed you purchased. And with the recent spike in white Proso millet due to the 2011 / 2012 drought, many packagers of wild bird feeds added barley, and additional filler seeds to keep the cost down.

A good quality general wild bird mix has a base of white Proso millet with cracked corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds and maybe some safflower seed added to it although recipes vary. Some higher quality general wild bird mixes may even contain hulled sunflower seeds. But no matter what a bag of wild bird feed contains it is required by law to list all the ingredients along with the order of content. Wild Bird Habitat encourages you to read the labels on bags of general wild bird feeds and avoid those which contain filler seeds. You’ll actually save money in the long run purchasing a quality general wild bird mix than the inexpensive bags offered at many retail outlets and grocery stores that contain fillers.

At the Wild Bird Habitat Stores we are committed to providing our customers with the highest quality wild bird mixes. None of the wild bird feeds we offer contain filler seeds. Our wild bird feeds may cost a little more but will save you money compared to inferior blends. It is guaranteed to attract more of your favorite backyard birds to your feeders with 100% of it being eaten.

Did you just get a good deal on bags of black oil sunflower seed, but it doesn’t seem to attract very many birds to the feeder.

Black oil sunflower seed is a staple in many backyard bird feeders and it’s hard to pass up a good deal. But cut rate prices on bags of black oil sunflower seed, especially at general retail outlets and big box stores, might be an indication it is from a crop that was diseased, under-matured due to growing conditions, or infected with insects.

The food industry crushes black oil sunflower seed to extract the sunflower oils for market. Only Grade-A seeds are selected. Most all other inferior grades of black oil sunflower are purchased by large wild bird feed packaging companies and sold to retail chains such as big box stores and grocery stores. The kernels inside the shells of these black oil sunflower seeds rejected by the food industry are often deformed, under developed, or partially eaten. Again it is buyer beware.

The Wild Bird Habitat Stores purchase our black oil sunflower seed from Des Moines Feed, a family owned mill, blender, and packager of wild bird feeds for over 50 years. They compete in the market with the food industry to purchase only high quality black oil sunflower seed for packaging as wild bird feed. From the bags of black oil sunflower seed we stock to the black oil sunflower seed used in our general and specialty wild bird mixes, we know our customers are getting a premium quality product that will attract more birds and waste less money.

Have you tried safflower seed but no birds will eat it?

Safflower seed is a seed rich in oil and used in the food industry for oil and meal. It has also been embraced by the bird feeding industry because of its ability to deter squirrels along with being an undesirable food source for Common Grackles, yet it attracts a good variety of backyard birds from Cardinals to Chickadees. Safflower is also a US agricultural crop that is in high demand by other countries such as China.

Safflower seed is subjected to the same grading standards as black oil sunflower seed with the high quality crops purchased by the food industry. Again a large portion of the safflower grown that does not meet certain standards is sent to large packagers of wild bird feeds. But again Des Moines Feed purchases safflower seed that meets the same standards required by the food industry. While being screened to remove debris and immature safflower seeds, blowers are used to separate seeds that are empty or underdeveloped. The safflower seed rejected by the food industry ends up in polybags for sale as wild bird feed in those big box stores and other general retail outlets.

Many national packagers of wild bird feed attach names to the mixes that lead the consumer to believe it is everything the birds want. “Songbird Blend”, “Wild Birds Choice”, “Premium Wild Bird Blend”. They market it with ads or images of all our favorite backyard birds flocking to the feeders.

The bottom line is that the birds you want to attract to your backyard bird feeders have spent millions of years honing their ability to select only the foods that are going to meet their nutritional requirements. They can not only distinguish which foods are higher in the protein they need during a particular time of year; winter, migration, nesting, but they can also distinguish between seeds that have a substantial content, and those that are a waste of time to search through. So when purchasing wild bird feeds read the label. Cheap is not always the better buy. In fact that inexpensive bag of wild bird feed may be costing you more than you think. Your best bet is to purchase your wild bird feeds from a reputable dealer. It may cost a little more but it will save you money in the long run and attact more of the favorite backyard birds.

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