Learn about using nyjer seed to attract birds with Blain’s Farm & Fleet.
In the winter, wild birds need bird seed to keep their metabolism going and make it through the cold weather. With the snow and cold, their natural food resources can run out. Nyjer seed is a great option for feeding smaller birds, such as finches and other small clinging birds.
What is nyjer seed?
Nyjer seeds are tiny thistle seeds. You can buy them as just the nyjer seed, or in a mix. Mixes usually contain black oil sunflower seeds–a favorite among winter birds–and millet. Special feeders need to be used because the seeds are so small. If you use the wrong type of bird feeder, the seeds can easily be washed away. When this happens, your feathered friends won’t get fed and you’ll end up wasting money on bird seed. Nyjer seed can be more expensive than other bird seed, so we recommend mixing it or offering it in smaller quantities. The special feeders will also help contain the seed.
Which birds will I attract with nyjer seed?
The most common bird you’ll attract with nyjer seed is the finch. Nyjer feeders are sometimes called “finch tubes,” or “finch socks” because they’re the main eaters of nyjer seed. They’ll also attract other clinging birds, such as pine siskins, nuthatches and chickadees.
Types of Feeders to Use with Nyjer Seed
The specialty feeders have very tiny feeding holes or small mesh to contain the seed. There are three easy options for offering nyjer to the birds.
Tube Feeder – Tube feeders have small feeding ports with perches, perfect for goldfinches. Finches travel in flocks, so you may want a feeder with multiple feeding ports or even use a couple feeders. There’s nothing like seeing a flock of brightly-colored finches, standing out against the white snow.
Sock Feeder – A sock feeder is your cheapest option. They’re typically made from nylon or other materials that the birds can easily get through to get to the seed. Sock feeders can shape to the seed, so all parts of the feeder are accessible for the birds. Plus, they can be easily cleaned and replaced, whereas tube and mesh feeders take a bit more work.
Screen Feeder – With a screen feeder, the birds cling directly to the feed, instead of using a port with a perch. The birds cling to the screen, and nibble seed through the mesh holes. Feeder shapes and designs can vary, but finches can eat facing upright or upside down. As long as they can get the seed, they’ll be happy.
When you’re using nyjer seed, there are few things to keep in mind. Nyjer bird seed can get expensive. It’s important to conserve as much seed as possible. Use trays underneath the feeders to catch any flung or spilled seed. Using a nyjer blend can also help offset the cost. Nyjer seed can spoil when it gathers too much moisture. To prevent this, use a wrap-around baffle or a different cover. If you’re in an area with a lot of moisture, change the seed often or only put out a limited amount of seed. For more tips on feeding and attracting backyard birds, visit our wild bird care blog.