So how can you minimize the spread of new or invasive weeds that originate in bird feed? There are several simple strategies to consider to avoid having your bird feeder become a weed seeder, the WSSA says:
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.”
Bird feed contributes to the spread of aggressive weeds.
Use a tray attachment under your feeder to keep seeds off the ground.
In fact, when researchers at Oregon State University looked at 10 brands of wild bird feed commonly sold in retail stores, they found that they contained seeds from more than 50 species of weeds. including 10 that are on their state’s list of most noxious weeds.
October 29, 2008
Select foods that won’t sprout, such as sunflower hearts, peanuts, peanut butter, raisins, mealworms, and plain suet cakes.
Wheat, rapeseed and canary seed are similar.
Just like you, birds have a preference of foods they like. They get up on the feeder and scratch through the mixed seeds, searching for their favorite food.
Feeding one type of seed in each feeder will result in birds only visiting the feeder with their favorite foods. They’ll eat this seed, not throw it away. Thus, less bird seed will fall on the ground to sprout.
Stabilize bird feeders
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.
Many types of mixed bird seed contains filler: cheap seeds that most birds don’t like. Birds toss aside the undesirable seed, often on the ground. This discarded bird seed is likely to sprout.
First, let’s find out a bit about the seeds in the birdseed! What is it?
House finches sit on the feeder and “chew” the seeds, cracking them open and dropping the hulls out of the feeder. Sometimes the birds accidentally pull out extra seeds that drop to the ground. But there is certainly less fallen seed than in hopper and platform feeders, where birds stand in the tray with the seeds.
Germination is the sprouting of a seed after it has been planted, having remained dormant for a period of time. Most bird seed will be packaged, kept in storage then sold. We then store it before putting it out.
Another type of seed tray is one that attaches to the base of a hanging feeder. Again, you will probably find these are purpose made as an accessory to a specific feeder. This is likely to mean feeders and accessories from such a manufacturer will be more expensive. If cost is not as important to you then I recommend going for one of these. The tray also acts as a trough that birds can perch on and feed from.
Cheap Bird Seed Is A Waste Of Time And Money
Avoid seed mix with excessive filler. Many commercially produced bird seed mixes contain high levels of filler, such as Milo and Millet. These are the seeds that often get added to seed mix to fill it out. They are less expensive and bulkier than the other seed but are also less appealing to wild birds.
One thing that people tend to do (me too, if I’m honest) is put out too much seed in the first place. By overfilling our feeders we encourage seed to fall all over the place. Also, birds could become complacent as to how much food is readily available and not be as careful not to spill any.
The types of bird seed to buy, if you want to stop weeds forming, are the ones that contain seeds that are already split or chopped in some way. Hulled sunflower hearts or chips can be a good choice, depending on which birds you are feeding. Tits, Finches, Blackbirds and Robin all like sunflower hearts. Obviously, hulled and chopped seeds will remove the seed’s ability to germinate.