What Birds Like Niger Seed

Last Updated on April 19, 2023 by

If you are a bird lover, then you know that feeding birds is an excellent way to attract them to your backyard. However, not all foods are created equal when it comes to attracting specific types of birds. One food that has been gaining popularity among bird enthusiasts is niger seed. In this article, we will explore what birds like niger seed and why this particular food has become such a favorite among certain species.

Niger seed, also known as thistle or nyjer seed, is a tiny black seed that originates from Africa but can now be found around the world. While it may look unremarkable at first glance, niger seed has proven to be quite popular with finches and other small songbirds. These seeds have high levels of oil content which makes them very attractive for finches who require high amounts of fat in their diets. Additionally, niger seeds are free of shells which means less mess and wasted food, making them an ideal choice for both wild and domesticated birds alike.

What Is Niger Seed?

Niger seed is a popular and nutritious food for many types of birds. Also known as thistle or nyjer seed, it comes from the African yellow daisy plant. The tiny black seeds are high in protein and oil, making them an important source of energy for birds.

One reason why niger seed is so beloved by wild birds is that it attracts finches, which are known for their beautiful colors and sweet songs. American goldfinches, house finches, purple finches, and pine siskins all love to eat niger seed. These small songbirds have specially adapted beaks that can easily crack open the hard shells of the seeds.

Niger seed has become increasingly popular among bird enthusiasts because it’s easy to store and lasts a long time without spoiling. It’s also less likely to attract unwanted pests like squirrels, who tend to leave it alone due to its bitter taste. In addition to attracting finches, niger seed may also bring other species of birds to your backyard feeders such as sparrows and towhees.

History And Origins Of Niger Seed

Niger seed, also known as thistle or nyjer seed, is a tiny black oilseed that has become increasingly popular among bird enthusiasts over the years. Native to Ethiopia and India, it was originally cultivated for its edible oil content. However, it wasn’t until the 1960s when Niger seed started being used in bird feed mixes due to its high fat and protein content.

The popularity of niger seed among birds can be attributed to its small size and high calorie density. It’s particularly favored by finches such as goldfinches, siskins, and redpolls. These birds have adapted specifically to feeding on small seeds like niger because they require large amounts of energy to maintain their active lifestyles.

Despite its widespread use in bird feeders today, niger seed still remains a relatively unknown commodity outside of the avian world. Nevertheless, its continued success in attracting an array of colorful birds makes it a valuable addition to any backyard feeder setup. In fact, let’s explore some of the nutritional benefits of this remarkable little seed next!

Nutritional Benefits Of Niger Seed

Now that we have learned about the history and origins of niger seed, let’s dive into its nutritional benefits for birds. These tiny black seeds are packed with essential nutrients such as protein, fat, fiber, and minerals like calcium and iron. Niger seed is also a great source of energy for birds due to its high oil content.

In addition to providing nourishment, niger seed has other benefits for birds. It can help improve their feather quality by promoting healthy feather growth and enhancing colors. Moreover, it attracts a wide variety of bird species to your backyard feeders. Some of the most common visitors include finches, sparrows, doves, juncos, and siskins.

It’s important to note that not all birds enjoy eating niger seed. Species that primarily eat insects or fruits may not be attracted to this type of food. However, if you’re looking to attract small songbirds to your feeder station, adding some niger seed can be an excellent choice. In the next section, we will explore in more detail which types of birds specifically enjoy consuming these nutritious little seeds.

Types Of Birds That Enjoy Niger Seed

When it comes to birds, there are many different types of species that have unique preferences when it comes to their diet. One such bird is the finch family, which includes American Goldfinches and House Finches. These small birds absolutely adore niger seed as part of their daily meal plan.

Another type of bird that loves niger seed is the Dark-Eyed Junco. This common backyard feeder has a distinct gray head and back with white belly feathers. Niger seeds provide these birds with a high-energy food source during cold winter months, making them an essential addition to any bird lover’s feeding station.

Chickadees also enjoy snacking on niger seeds. In particular, Black-Capped Chickadees can often be seen clinging onto feeders filled with this tiny black seed. These small energetic birds need plenty of food to fuel their constantly moving bodies and niger seed provides just what they need!

  1. American Goldfinches
  2. House Finches
  3. Dark-Eyed Juncos
  4. Black-Capped Chickadees

As you can see from the list above, there are several different types of birds that love niger seed! If you’re looking to attract more feathered friends into your backyard, then providing this nutritious snack should definitely be on your priority list!

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Attracting Birds To Your Backyard With Niger Seed

Niger seed is a highly sought-after food by many bird species due to its high nutrient content. The tiny black seeds are rich in oil, protein and essential fatty acids which provide birds with the energy required for their daily activities. This makes niger seed an ideal choice if you want to attract birds to your backyard.

Many finches, such as goldfinches, siskins, redpolls and even some sparrows are known to be frequent visitors of Niger feeders. These small-sized birds have specialized beaks that allow them to easily crack open the hard shells of niger seeds. Additionally, doves, juncos and other songbirds may also enjoy consuming these tasty treats.

If you’re looking to attract more birds to your backyard using niger seeds, it’s important to ensure that the quality of the seed is top-notch. Look for fresh seeds that are free from dust and debris; this will prevent mold growth which can harm both the feeder and visiting birds. In addition, store your niger seeds in a cool dry place so they remain fresh for longer periods of time.

How To Choose And Store Niger Seed

As the saying goes, "you are what you eat," and this rings true for birds as well. That’s why choosing the right food is crucial to keep them healthy and happy. Niger seed, also known as thistle or nyjer seed, is a popular choice among many bird lovers due to its high oil content and nutritional value.

When selecting niger seed, it’s essential to look for fresh, clean seeds that have not been exposed to moisture or pests. Quality niger seed should be black and shiny with no signs of mold or discoloration. To ensure freshness, buy in small quantities from a reputable source and store in an airtight container away from direct sunlight.

If you want to attract finches, siskins, and other small songbirds to your backyard feeder, niger seed is an excellent option. However, it’s important to note that not all birds enjoy niger seed. Variety is key when it comes to feeding birds as different species have different preferences. In the next section, we’ll explore the pros and cons of niger seed compared to other types of bird foods so that you can make an informed decision on what to offer your feathered friends.

Niger Seed Vs. Other Bird Foods

When it comes to offering food to birds, many people wonder which types of seeds are the best. Niger seed is a popular choice for those looking to attract finches and other small birds to their feeders. However, there are several other bird foods on the market that can also be beneficial for feathered friends.

One alternative to niger seed is black oil sunflower seed. This type of seed has a high fat content, making it an excellent source of energy for birds during colder months. Additionally, its hard shell helps keep pests away from the feeder.

Safflower seed is another option for those looking to diversify their bird food offerings. While not as attractive to some species as niger or sunflower seeds, safflower can still bring in cardinals, chickadees, and titmice. It’s also a good choice for bird watchers who want to avoid squirrels at their feeders since these critters tend to leave safflower alone.

Hulled peanuts are yet another bird food worth considering. They’re packed with protein and healthy oils that help birds build strong muscles and feathers. If you choose this option, be sure to offer them in a mesh feeder so smaller birds don’t choke on large pieces.

Four Types of Bird Foods That Are Worth Trying

  1. Black oil sunflower seed: High fat content provides essential energy.
  2. Safflower seed: Can attract cardinals, chickadees, and titmice; unappealing to squirrels.
  3. Hulled peanuts: Protein-packed with healthy oils.
  4. Nyjer (niger) seed: Attracts goldfinches and other small songbirds.

Now that we’ve explored some alternatives to niger seed let’s take a closer look at common myths surrounding this popular bird food choice.

Common Myths And Misconceptions About Niger Seed

Niger seed is a popular choice among many bird lovers, but there are still some myths and misconceptions surrounding this tiny black seed. One common myth is that niger seed can only be fed to certain types of birds. However, the truth is that many different species enjoy niger seed, including finches, sparrows, buntings, and even doves.

Another misconception about niger seed is that it’s too expensive or difficult to find. While it may be more expensive than other types of birdseed, its high oil content makes it a nutritious option for birds in cold weather. And while not every pet store carries niger seed, it can easily be found online or at specialty stores catering to bird enthusiasts.

Some people worry that feeding birds niger seed will attract unwanted critters like rats and mice. However, keeping your feeders clean and using appropriate feeder designs can minimize these risks. Additionally, offering fresh water alongside your niger seed feeders will help ensure birds don’t venture into areas where they might encounter predators.

Next up: conclusion – the benefits of feeding birds niger seed

Conclusion: The Benefits Of Feeding Birds Niger Seed

Feeding birds is not just a hobby, it is also an act of kindness towards our feathered friends. Niger seed has become one of the most popular options for bird feeders due to its many benefits. These tiny black seeds, which come from Africa, are packed with nutrients that can provide various health advantages.

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The high oil content in niger seed makes it perfect for winter feeding when birds need more energy to stay warm. This type of food is especially beneficial for finches and siskins as they have smaller beaks and require softer seeds to eat. It’s important to note that niger seeds should always be kept dry as moisture could cause them to go moldy and harm the birds’ digestive system.

In conclusion, feeding birds niger seed offers numerous benefits that every bird enthusiast should consider. From providing vital nutrients to keeping our feathered friends well-fed during colder months, this small but mighty seed deserves a place in every bird feeder. So next time you stock up on birdseed, make sure to add some niger seeds into the mix and watch your backyard flourish with beautiful birds!

Frequently Asked Questions

How Much Niger Seed Should I Put In My Bird Feeder?

As an avian science writer, it’s important to understand the appropriate amount of niger seed to put in your bird feeder. Think of it like baking a cake – you want just the right amount of ingredients for optimal enjoyment. A good rule of thumb is to fill your feeder with enough niger seed that will last one or two days depending on how many birds frequent the area. This ensures there’s always fresh food available and minimizes waste. Additionally, be sure to clean your feeder regularly to avoid any mold or bacteria growth which can harm our feathered friends. Happy feeding!

Can Niger Seed Be Harmful To Birds If They Eat Too Much Of It?

While niger seed is a popular choice among bird enthusiasts, it’s important to consider whether feeding too much of it can be harmful for our feathered friends. Excessive consumption of niger seed may lead to health issues such as obesity and liver damage in birds. It’s recommended that niger seed should make up no more than 25% of the birds’ daily diet and mixed with other types of seeds to provide a varied nutritional intake. As always, it’s crucial to keep an eye on any changes in behavior or physical appearance when introducing new foods into your birds’ diets.

Are There Any Birds That Should Not Eat Niger Seed?

Some birds may not be able to digest niger seed properly, leading to potential health problems. For example, doves and pigeons have been known to develop crop impaction from consuming large quantities of the small seeds. Additionally, some species such as game birds and waterfowl are not typically attracted to niger seed and may prefer other types of feed. It is important for bird enthusiasts to research which species are best suited for niger seed consumption before adding it to their feeding regimen. While niger seed can provide essential nutrition for many bird species, it should be offered in moderation and with consideration for individual dietary needs.

How Often Should I Clean My Bird Feeder If I’m Using Niger Seed?

As an avian science writer, it is crucial to understand the importance of maintaining a clean bird feeder. Especially when using niger seed as feed, which tends to produce more waste than other types of seeds. Regular cleaning can prevent mold growth and bacteria buildup that could harm birds’ health. Therefore, I recommend cleaning your bird feeder at least once every two weeks or more frequently if you notice any signs of contamination. As they say, "A clean feeder keeps the birds much sweeter."

Can I Mix Niger Seed With Other Types Of Bird Food In My Feeder?

Mixing niger seed with other types of bird food in a feeder is acceptable. However, it’s essential to ensure that the mixture doesn’t contain any filler seeds or nuts as they don’t provide an adequate nutritional value for birds. If you’re going to mix niger seed, sunflower hearts and mealworms together, then you’ll be providing your feathered friends with the necessary nutrients they require to stay healthy all year round. It’s important to note that if you do opt for mixing different foods in one feeder, then make sure to clean it regularly, especially during hot weather when bacteria can quickly grow and contaminate the food. By doing so, you’ll offer your avian visitors a tasty and nutritious feast!


In conclusion, niger seed is a favorite among many bird species. It’s important to note that while birds love this seed, it should be given in moderation as overconsumption can lead to health issues. However, with its high oil content and protein levels, niger seed provides an excellent source of nutrition for our feathered friends.

As an avian science writer, I must stress the importance of keeping your bird feeder clean when using niger seed or any other type of bird food. Regular cleaning can prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi that could harm your backyard visitors. And remember, you can mix niger seed with other types of bird food to create a diverse menu for your winged companions!

So go ahead and fill up that feeder with some niger seed – your local birds will thank you! Just make sure to keep it balanced with other nutritious options and maintain good hygiene practices. Happy birdwatching!

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