Niger seeds

I recently bought nyger seeds, which are being ignored by every bird that comes into my garden. I googled it, and found that of they dry out, the finches etc that should love them won't go near them. But this is a new bag, bought from a supermarket. Mouldy nyger seeds are poisonous, but they were not mouldy.

I also read that nyger seeds are heat treated so that they won't sprout. However, the ground underneath my bird feeder was covered with them where the sparrows had thrown them out: and they sprouted everywhere.

Has anyone else had this experience? What should I do about the seeds? Complain to the manufacturer? To the supermarket? What should I do about the unused seeds?

  • Hi Nanna welcome to the community.
    A lot of us has found that Niger seed isn't very popular especially with the Goldfinches and have substituted them with sunflower hearts.
    I still put some out because some of the Goldfinches will use it when the other feeders are full, with the Niger and sunflower hearts you need a tray attached to the feeder to stop spillage.

    My Flickr photos

  • I gave up on nyger seeds several years ago. The only birds that showed any interest in them were Siskin and Redpoll and they are very infrequent winter visitors to my garden. Even Goldfinches ignore them if there's a choice of sunflower hearts. Invariably, they would go mouldy and had to be discarded.
    My advice would be to cut your losses and bin them. Stick to sunflower hearts which most birds like.



    My Flickr Photostream 

  • Same here I gave up on Nyger Seed 5 years ago when I had one of my birdfeeders full of Nyger Seed up for 4 months right through winter and beyond and through that 4 months not 1 bird attempted to take any of tbe Nyger Seed at all. After that I dumped all my Nyger Seec and tried Sunflower Hearts and the Goldfinches are on that Birdfeeder non-stop. I also have some other types of birdseeds as well in my other birdfeeders. I only originally bought the Nyger Seed tbrought publicity and advertising including the RSPB. But I wouldn’t touch Nyger Seed ever again.



  • Similar here, I gave my nyger seed to my neighbour as it wasn't being eaten (bizarrely it's barely 20 feet away in his bit of the shared garden and has a semi permanent queue of goldfinches) and use only sunflower hearts in a "sunflower heart feeder", which attracts everything... even the robins, and one rook has learnt to feed from it!

  • I agree with the previous comments and gave up feeding nyger seed a few years ago;   as a test I tried buying a good quality finch mix (with red millet, canary seed, nyger, etc..)   a few weeks ago and the birds just turned their beaks up at it including the bullfinches.         Sunflower hearts are popular with most birds but I would ensure you get good quality ones.  THIS supplier is one of the best I have used and are very reliable offering free delivery with one hour slot.       I agree with Tony that it is better just to bin the unused seeds,  I had to do the same with the new finch mix I bought.        


    Regards, Hazel 

    "Each kindness shown to birds or men is sure to flutter back again" 

  • I've never had a problem with them being eaten. Personally, I wouldn't be putting them out in the Summer. As has been said, siskins and redpolls like them. Depends where you live as to how popular they are.

    I also have a theory re some people finding niger eaten and others find it's ignored. Several theories really. One is that the areas of the country where I've seen niger being eaten are also areas where teasel is widespread (in relative terms). There are also other goldfinch friendly wildflowers all over the place, incl plants like evening primrose. If goldfinches are used to eating small seeds like this, and have learned to do so, they, imo, are more likely to know to eat niger. If however, they're brought up on supplementary food, they copy parent birds and it gets passed on through generations. The fact siskins and redpolls disperse in Spring but still eat niger readily supports this view. In many areas, goldfinches loiter around all year.

    Another point is that I don't give loads of food types, or feed during Spring and Summer.

    I also get other species not associated with niger eating it. Dunnocks, robins, bullfinches and house sparrows have all eaten it in Winter.