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bird feeder seed that comes up as weeds

Many millions of homeowners use feeders to attract birds. But a two-year study featured in the journal Invasive Plant Science and Management suggests there may be one unintended consequence to this popular hobby. Bird feed mixtures may be helping to spread troublesome weeds that threaten agricultural crops.

When researchers examined the contents of 98 commercially available bird feed mixes, they uncovered several significant findings:

Bird feed mixtures may be helping to spread troublesome weeds that threaten agricultural crops

“While it is difficult to estimate the precise role commercial bird feed plays, there is a distinct possibility it may be an overlooked pathway for spreading troublesome weed species into new regions,” says Eric Oseland of the University of Missouri.

The researchers also explored which harvested bird feed ingredients contributed most to weed seed contamination. They found that proso millet grain was closely linked to the presence of pigweed species weeds, while safflower and sunflower contributed most to the presence of kochia and common ragweed, respectively.

To mitigate the risks, researchers recommend careful weed management in crop fields designated for bird feed, as well as the use of sieving during packaging to reduce weed seed contamination. They also point to the proven effectiveness of regulatory measures adopted in Europe to limit weed seed content in bird feed.

Birds such as chickadees, titmouses, and nuthatches eat only one sunflower seed at a time. They fly away to a tree branch to hammer it open to eat the kernel inside. Then they return to the feeder. This feeding behavior causes fewer seeds to be spilled.

Perhaps there’s an area at the edge of your lawn that you can let go to dirt. This can be under some evergreen bushes. It could be at the edge of a “wild” area.

Some bird seed may spill from your feeder as it sways in the wind. Even birds jumping on and off the feeder may cause it to swing wildly. You may need to shorten the hanger. You may try tying the bottom of the feeder. You may add weight to the bottom of the feeder. It may be that you need to buy a different, perhaps shorter and wider, bird feeder.

Tip 10) Feed mixed bird seed in a low platform feeder

Platform feeders are messy. Birds stand in the feeder with the seeds.

Since it is sterilized it will not sprout under your bird feeder. This is a favorite food of small finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and house finches.

Wheat, rapeseed and canary seed are similar.

Since the ground under your feeders may be a mess anyway, add pavers. A square of 9 or 16 pavers set close together will be easy to sweep up. Seeds that fall in the cracks and sprout are easy to pull up.