What Birds Eat Niger Seed

Last Updated on June 4, 2023 by

As an avian nutritionist, I am often asked about the best foods to feed birds. One food that has gained popularity among bird enthusiasts is niger seed (also known as thistle seed). Niger seed is a tiny black seed that comes from the African yellow daisy plant and is rich in oil and protein.

Many species of birds enjoy eating niger seed, including finches, siskins, redpolls, and goldfinches. These small birds have specialized beaks that allow them to crack open the hard shell of the seed and extract the nutritious contents inside. In this article, we will explore which specific species eat niger seeds and why it is such an important addition to their diet.

The Nutritional Benefits Of Niger Seed

Niger seed, also known as thistle seed, is a small black seed that is highly nutritious for birds. As an avian nutritionist, I recommend niger seeds to be included in the diet of many species of birds. These tiny seeds are packed with essential oils and proteins that provide various health benefits to different bird species.

One of the most significant nutritional benefits of niger seeds is their high-fat content. The oil present in these seeds provides birds with energy needed for flying, migration, and reproduction. Additionally, niger seeds have a low percentage of fiber than other types of birdseed making it easier for smaller birds like finches and sparrows to digest them.

Moreover, Niger seeds contain high amounts of calcium which helps maintain strong bones and eggshells in breeding females. Birds who consume niger seeds will also get sufficient levels of iron which aids red blood cell production- an essential factor for maintaining good health. With all these valuable nutrients provided by niger seeds, it’s no surprise they’re a common favorite among many bird enthusiasts!

As we explore further about this fantastic little seed let us delve into its history and origin – where did it come from?

The History And Origin Of Niger Seed

Ah, niger seed. The beloved delicacy of many bird species. But have you ever stopped to wonder where this tiny black seed comes from? Of course not, because who cares about the history and origin of a mere snack for our feathered friends? Well, let me tell you, dear reader: the story of niger seed is one that will leave you in awe.

Believe it or not, niger seed actually originated in Ethiopia! It was first cultivated by the Ethiopian highlands tribe known as Amhara. They used the seed primarily for oil extraction and consumption. Fast forward a few centuries later, when British colonizers discovered its potential use as bird feed. And thus, an industry was born.

But why do birds love niger seed so much? As an avian nutritionist, I can tell you that these little seeds are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, fat, and fiber. Plus, their small size makes them easy to consume and digest for even the tiniest of beaks. It’s no wonder they’re such a popular choice among backyard bird enthusiasts.

Now that we know the fascinating history behind niger seed and understand why birds adore it so much, let’s dive deeper into what makes up this magical food source. Up next: the anatomy of a niger seed.

The Anatomy Of A Niger Seed

Now that we know the history and origin of niger seed, let’s dive into its anatomy. Niger seed is a small black or dark brown seed that comes from the Guizotia abyssinica plant. It has a hard outer shell and an oil-rich kernel inside, making it a great source of nutrition for birds.

Speaking of bird nutrition, which birds specifically eat niger seed? Well, it’s a favorite among finches such as goldfinches, house finches, and pine siskins. Other common visitors to niger seed feeders include mourning doves, chickadees, and redpolls. These birds are attracted to the high fat content in niger seeds, which helps them maintain their energy levels during colder months.

When considering giving your feathered friends some niger seed treats, it’s important to note that freshness matters. Stale or rancid seeds can be harmful to birds’ health and deter them from eating at your feeder altogether. To ensure optimal freshness, store your niger seeds in an airtight container away from direct sunlight or heat sources. By doing so, you’ll keep those little beaks happy all winter long!

How To Store Niger Seed For Optimal Freshness

How can you ensure that your niger seed stays fresh and tasty for longer? As an avian nutritionist, I understand the importance of feeding birds with quality food. In this section, I will share some tips on how to store niger seeds properly.

Firstly, make sure you buy from a reputable source. This will guarantee that the product is free from contaminants and has been stored correctly before being packaged. Once you have bought your niger seed, follow these simple steps to keep it fresh:

  • Store in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight.
  • Use an airtight container or resealable bag to prevent exposure to moisture.
  • Keep away from strong odors as niger seed can easily absorb them.
  • Check regularly for signs of spoilage such as mold or discoloration.

By following these storage guidelines, you can extend the shelf life of your niger seed while maintaining its nutritional value. Remember, fresh food equals happy birds!

Next up: let’s talk about the best feeders for niger seed!

The Best Feeders For Niger Seed

If you’re looking to attract birds that eat niger seed, it’s important to choose the right feeder. Niger seeds are small and require a specialized type of feeder with tiny ports designed for these tiny seeds. Tube feeders with small openings or mesh socks are popular choices.

When selecting a tube feeder for niger seed, be sure to choose one with perches so that birds can stop and rest while feeding. Additionally, make sure the feeder has drainage holes in case moisture accumulates. Niger seeds spoil quickly when wet and can become clogged in the feeder if not drained properly.

For those hoping to attract American goldfinches specifically, opt for a finch sock-style feeder made from mesh fabric. These feeders provide a more natural feeding experience as they resemble thistle plants where goldfinches frequently feed in the wild. With the proper equipment, attracting niger-seed-eating birds like American goldfinches is easier than ever before!

American Goldfinch

Did you know that the American Goldfinch is one of the most common birds found in North America? In fact, they are so abundant that their population numbers around 42 million! These small yellow finches can be spotted all year round and are known for their beautiful singing voices.

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As an avian nutritionist, I highly recommend feeding niger seed to attract these lovely little birds. Niger seed is a favorite food among many bird species, including the American Goldfinch. It’s high in protein and fat which helps keep them energized throughout the day. By providing niger seed in your backyard feeder, you’re sure to have these colorful birds stopping by regularly.

When it comes to feeding habits, American Goldfinches prefer to eat slowly and steadily throughout the day rather than having one big meal. They also enjoy eating from tube feeders with perches as this allows them to easily cling onto the sides while eating. Keep your feeder filled up with fresh niger seed and watch as these delightful birds come fluttering into your yard!

These charming little birds aren’t the only ones who love niger seed though. Up next, we’ll talk about another bird species that enjoys feasting on this nutritious snack – pine siskins.

Pine Siskin

Pine Siskins are small birds that belong to the finch family. They can be found in coniferous forests and feed on a variety of seeds, including niger seed. In fact, it is one of their favorite foods!

Niger seed is high in fat and protein, which makes it an excellent source of energy for Pine Siskins during the winter months when food can be scarce. These little birds have strong bills that allow them to crack open the hard shells of the niger seeds.

While niger seed is a great addition to any bird feeder, it’s important to note that Pine Siskins are known carriers of salmonella bacteria. As such, it’s recommended that you clean your feeders regularly and avoid overcrowding at feeding stations to prevent the spread of disease among birds.

As we move onto discussing the common redpolls, another member of the finch family, it’s worth noting that they too enjoy eating niger seed as part of their diet. Similar to Pine Siskins, common redpolls also rely heavily on seeds during winter months and will readily visit backyard feeders filled with niger seed.

Common Redpoll

Common Redpolls are small, energetic birds that belong to the finch family. They have a unique diet composed of various seeds and insects. Niger seed is one of their favorite foods as it provides them with high amounts of fat and protein.

Apart from niger seed, Common Redpolls also enjoy eating sunflower seeds and thistle seeds. These three types of seeds make up the majority of their diet throughout the year. During spring and summer, they may supplement their diet with insect larvae to provide additional nutrients for breeding purposes.

As an avian nutritionist, I highly recommend incorporating niger seed into your bird feeder if you want to attract these delightful little birds. Providing a varied diet will not only benefit Common Redpolls but other species as well. With proper feeding habits, you can help maintain healthy populations of these beautiful birds in your area.

Moving on from Common Redpolls, let’s take a look at another popular bird – the house finch.

House Finch

The House Finch is a small, vibrant bird that can be found throughout North America. With their bright red heads and brown streaked bodies, they are often considered one of the most colorful birds in the area. Their unique appearance makes them an attractive addition to any backyard bird feeder.

As an avian nutritionist, I highly recommend incorporating niger seeds into your House Finch’s diet. These tiny black seeds are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, and healthy fats. In fact, niger seed is also known for its high oil content which can help promote healthy feather growth in these beautiful birds.

To give you a better idea of what other foods you can offer your House Finch, take a look at this table below:

Food TypeBenefitsNotes
Niger SeedHigh in oils and promotes healthy feathersOffer separately from other types of food to prevent spoilage
Sunflower SeedsRich in Vitamin E and antioxidantsPurchase unsalted or low-sodium varieties
Safflower SeedsPromotes cardiovascular healthAvoid if squirrels are present as they find it unappealing

Looking for more information on how to attract House Finches to your yard? Keep reading to learn about the Purple Finch and its dietary habits.

Purple Finch

Purple finches are known to be one of the most common birds that eat niger seed. These small, colorful songbirds have a voracious appetite for this type of birdseed and will often visit feeders multiple times a day.

When it comes to nutrition, purple finches require a balanced diet consisting of high-quality seeds, fruits, insects, and even some small invertebrates. Niger seed is an excellent source of protein and essential fatty acids, which helps support their overall health and wellbeing.

To attract these beautiful birds to your backyard feeder, make sure you offer them fresh, high-quality niger seed in a clean and accessible feeder. Also, consider planting native trees and shrubs that provide natural food sources like berries and other types of fruit that they enjoy.

As we move on from discussing purple finches, let’s take a closer look at another bird species that also enjoys eating niger seed – the lesser goldfinch.

Lesser Goldfinch

The Lesser Goldfinch is a small bird with a highly varied diet; they often eat niger seed, which is a popular bird feed. They have adapted to feed from both bird feeders and from natural sources, such as flowers and insects. Their diet should contain a variety of different seeds and grains, and niger seed should be one of the main components. They should also be offered insects, fruits, and vegetables in order to ensure they get a balanced diet.

Lesser Goldfinch Diet

Are you curious about what Lesser Goldfinches love to eat? As an avian nutritionist, I can tell you that these birds have a particular fondness for niger seed! These tiny black seeds are packed with nutrients that help keep Lesser Goldfinches healthy and happy.

In addition to niger seed, Lesser Goldfinches also enjoy munching on thistle, sunflower hearts, and millet. However, it’s important to note that they prefer their food freshly supplied as they don’t store excess food in their crops like other bird species do. So if you’re planning on feeding these delightful little birds, make sure the feeder is consistently stocked with fresh food.

As an expert in avian nutrition, I highly recommend adding some niger seed to your backyard bird feeder to attract flocks of beautiful Lesser Goldfinches. These tiny birds will delight you with their acrobatic displays while enjoying a delicious meal at the same time.

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Lesser Goldfinch Feeding Habits

Now that we’ve discussed what Lesser Goldfinches love to eat, let’s talk about their feeding habits. These birds are known for their unique approach to food as they don’t store excess food in their crops like other bird species do. Instead, they prefer freshly supplied meals and will only take what they need at the moment.

This habit of not storing excess food may be due to the fact that Lesser Goldfinches feed on small seeds that are abundant year-round. They have adapted to a diet high in niger seed, thistle, sunflower hearts, and millet which can all be found easily in open fields or backyards with well-stocked bird feeders.

As an avian nutritionist, I recommend keeping your backyard feeder consistently stocked with fresh food if you want to attract these delightful little birds. Observing them while they enjoy a meal is always a treat as they showcase acrobatic displays that will surely put a smile on anyone’s face.

Evening Grosbeak

The Evening Grosbeak is a beautiful bird that belongs to the finch family. This species has a unique and powerful beak which they use to crack open seeds, nuts, and fruits. They are primarily seed-eaters, and niger seed happens to be one of their favorites.

Niger seed contains high levels of oil, protein, and essential nutrients such as calcium, iron, and potassium. Feeding your backyard birds with this type of seed can greatly benefit them in terms of health and overall nutrition. The Evening Grosbeak especially benefits from niger seeds since it helps them build up fat reserves for winter survival.

It’s important to note that while niger seed is an excellent food choice for many bird species like the Evening Grosbeak, it should not be the only item on their menu. Providing a diverse range of foods will ensure that they receive all the necessary nutrients required for optimal health. So if you want to attract these stunning birds into your yard or garden, consider offering them some niger seed along with other nutritious foods!

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Buy Niger Seed?

As an avian nutritionist, I highly recommend incorporating niger seed into your feathered friend’s diet. This small black seed is rich in oils and nutrients that support healthy feathers and skin. If you’re wondering where to buy niger seed, it can be found at most pet stores or online retailers specializing in bird food. However, it’s important to note that not all birds enjoy niger seed, so be sure to introduce it gradually and monitor their reaction. With proper moderation and care, including niger seed in your bird’s diet can have numerous benefits for their overall health and wellbeing.

How Much Niger Seed Should I Feed My Birds?

Oh, the age-old question of how much niger seed to feed our feathered friends. As an avian nutritionist, I’ve heard it all – from those who sprinkle a few seeds here and there to those who fill up entire bird feeders with the stuff. But really, it’s not about quantity as much as it is about balance. Niger seed can be a great addition to any bird diet, but too much of anything can be harmful. So, while you may have found where to buy niger seed, remember that moderation is key when it comes to feeding your birds. A small handful or sprinkling every day should suffice in providing them with the nutrients they need without overindulging. Happy feeding!

Can Niger Seed Be Used In Homemade Bird Food Recipes?

Yes, niger seed can definitely be included in homemade bird food recipes. This tiny black seed is packed with nutrients that are essential for the growth and maintenance of birds’ bodies. It contains high levels of protein, fat, fiber, calcium, iron and various vitamins such as A, D and E. Niger seeds are particularly beneficial for small species like finches and siskins who have fast metabolisms and require a lot of energy to fly long distances. As an avian nutritionist, I would recommend using niger seeds in combination with other ingredients such as sunflower seeds or peanuts to create a balanced diet for your feathered friends. Just make sure to offer them in moderation as too much of anything can be harmful.

What Other Types Of Bird Seed Can I Mix With Niger Seed?

As an avian nutritionist, I highly recommend mixing niger seed with other bird seeds to provide a well-rounded diet for your feathered friends. Good options include sunflower seeds, safflower seeds, and millet. These blends can attract a wide variety of birds to your feeders, from finches to chickadees. Additionally, incorporating different types of seed can help meet the specific nutritional needs of each species that visits your backyard. So go ahead and experiment with different mixtures – you may just discover some new favorite visitors!

Are There Any Birds That Should Not Eat Niger Seed?

Oh, sure. Let’s talk about the birds that shouldn’t eat niger seed. Because clearly, we haven’t discussed enough already about this tiny little powerhouse of a bird food. But alright, let me put on my avian nutritionist hat and tell you what I know. While most birds love niger seed and can benefit from its high oil content, there are a few exceptions to the rule. Ground-feeding birds like doves and quails may not be able to access it in feeders or have difficulty cracking open the small seeds. And if you happen to live near an area with invasive plant species, such as purple loosestrife, then feeding niger seed could attract unwanted finch populations that compete for nesting sites with native songbirds. So yes, while niger seed is fantastic for many bird species, it’s always important to consider your local ecosystem before offering any type of supplemental food source to our feathered friends.


In conclusion, niger seed is a great addition to any bird feeder for those looking to attract finches and other small birds. It’s readily available at most pet stores or online retailers, making it easy to purchase. When feeding your feathered friends, be sure not to overdo it with the niger seed. A good rule of thumb is to offer it in moderation alongside other types of birdseed.

One common idiom that comes to mind when discussing bird nutrition is “you are what you eat.” This rings true for our avian friends as well. Providing them with a varied diet rich in nutrients can help keep them healthy and happy. So mix things up and experiment with different types of seeds and foods to see which ones your birds prefer. Remember, a little bit of variety goes a long way!

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