Keep in mind that the birdseed won’t grow weeds in your yard if it doesn’t reach the ground. Putting a tray under your bird feeder to catch overflowing seeds can prevent the problem of weed growth. Although birds may be messy eaters, squirrels are sometimes a bigger problem. If you notice squirrels scattering seeds in your yard, consider another type of feeder that will prevent the squirrels from accessing the seeds.
If you’re inviting flocks of birds to visit your yard by enticing them with birdseed, you may also be inviting weeds. When seed falls from the feeder to the ground there is potential for germination. This is not a problem with all types of bird food. By being a conscientious shopper you can enjoy the birds while avoiding additional weed growth.
When seeds are baked, they lose the ability to germinate. Some birdseed manufacturers sell baked birdseed. This type of seed will not cause weeds to grow in your yard but will still attract birds. Other types of bird food, such as sunflowers hearts, peanut butter, raisins, mealworm and suet cakes, will not sprout if scattered about your yard by messy eaters.
All weeds are annoying, but some packages of birdseed have been identified as having numerous varieties of invasive weed seeds. When these seeds are scattered from a feeder and spread in the yard, they can quickly become a maintenance nightmare. To avoid purchasing bird seed containing noxious weeds, read the label or contact the seed manufacturer and find out what was done to ensure the contents are not invasive weed seeds. Birdseed that contains a lot of filler seed such as red millet may result in more weed growth because birds do not tend to like this type of seed. Instead of eating the filler, they push it aside and cause more to drop to the ground as they search for the seed they desire. Know what types of birdseed you are buying in a mix and if it is desirable to the birds you intend to attract.
Weeds are going to be an issue in any garden. Regularly monitoring your yard will give you an idea of what maintenance needs to be done. By doing this you can see where weeds are popping up and remove them before they flower and spread to other areas of the yard. They are also much easier to remove when they are small.
Cracked corn consists of dried corn that is split into pieces. Unlike whole kernels of corn, the pieces of cracked corn can no longer sprout. Jays, doves, quail, sparrows and even ducks are attracted to feeders that contain cracked corn.
Watching the antics of birds hopping on feeders and battling over seed is one of the many reasons to feed wild birds. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong seed or don’t follow good feeding habits, you can end up with a mess of weeds around your feeders. Birds know what they like and will pick through seed mixes to find what they want, leaving the discarded seeds to sprout. Choosing the right seed can keep your garden tidy as you continue to feed your avian visitors.
Sunflower chips are hulled sunflower seeds that are chopped into pieces. With the kernel hulled and chopped, the seed won’t sprout. Sunflower chips make an excellent feeder choice because they are one of the top seed choices by a variety of birds including jays, woodpeckers, finches, grosbeaks and chickadees.
Most wild bird mixes found in stores that don’t specialize in birdseed contain an abundance of milo and millet. While some birds such as juncos and sparrows love millet, many other species will pick through, trying to get to other items in the mix. Few birds eat milo. As the birds pick through the mix, millet and milo fall to the ground and will eventually sprout into grass-like weeds. To avoid this, visit a store that specializes in wild bird food and choose a mix specially designed for what the birds in your area prefer. The food may cost more, but much less will make its way to the ground to become a weed.
Although it sounds like a weed, nyjer thistle is not the standard thistle with the purple bloom that gardeners try to keep out of their yards. Nyjer thistle is a small black seed favored by birds such as finches, juncos and pine siskins. Quality nyjer thistle is typically heated so it won’t sprout. If a few plants do sprout, they rarely grow to a mature plant in North America.
Feeding your birds wisely helps reduce seed waste and therefore helps control any likelihood of grass or other weeds growing under your feeders. Using a bird feeder with a seed-catching tray underneath helps catch any discarded seed before it hits the ground. Providing one type of seed in each feeder will keep birds from picking through mixes to find the type of seed they like. In addition to seed, set out fruit, suet and hummingbird feeders to attract a wide array of wild birds.
Not all of them grew, but plenty did. When they studied the weed seeds that fell to the ground beneath bird feeders, Dr. Jed Colquhoun and the other researchers found that “30 weed species sprouted in just 28 days. Between three and 17 weed species grew from each of the 10 brands of feed tested.”
The 10 noxious weeds were buffalobur, bull thistle, Canada thistle, common ragweed, dodder, field bindweed, jointed goatgrass, kochia, puncturevine , and velvetleaf (a relatively new weed in Oregon that was found mostly growing under bird feeders).
Anyone who feeds birds in the backyard has had the experience of weeds — even tiny sunflowers — popping up in the grass beneath the feeder. Usually they’re readily mowed down. But you need to watch out, says the Weed Science Society of America (WSSA), because some of those weeds can be pretty aggressive.
Use a tray attachment under your feeder to keep seeds off the ground.
October 29, 2008