What Birds Like Thistle Seed

Last Updated on April 19, 2023 by

Welcome bird enthusiasts! Are you wondering what types of birds enjoy thistle seed? Thistle, also known as nyjer or Niger, is a popular seed among finches and other small songbirds due to its high oil content. As an avian nutrition expert, I can assure you that providing thistle seed in your backyard feeder will attract a variety of colorful feathered friends.

Frequent visitors to thistle feeders include American Goldfinches, House Finches, Pine Siskins, and Common Redpolls. These species are primarily granivorous meaning they rely on seeds for energy and nutrients. Thistle seeds offer a great source of protein and fat which helps these birds maintain their active lifestyle throughout the day. Stay tuned to learn more about why these birds love thistle seed and how you can provide them with the perfect feeding experience.

The Nutritional Benefits Of Thistle Seed For Birds

Thistle seed is a highly nutritious food source for birds, containing essential nutrients such as protein, fiber, and fat. It is particularly favored by small songbirds like finches and sparrows due to its high oil content. These oils provide energy for birds during migration or harsh winter months when other food sources may be scarce.

In addition to providing necessary nutrients, thistle seed can also aid in the overall health of birds. The seeds contain antioxidants that help protect against cell damage caused by free radicals. This can lead to improved immune function and reduced risk of disease in birds.

Overall, incorporating thistle seed into a bird’s diet can have significant benefits for their health and well-being. With its rich nutritional profile and potential disease-fighting properties, it is no wonder why so many bird species are attracted to this tiny but mighty seed. In fact, one particular group of birds has developed a true love affair with thistle seed: the American Goldfinch.

American Goldfinches: The Thistle Seed Enthusiasts

After reading about the nutritional benefits of thistle seed for birds, you might be curious as to which species prefer this type of food. Well, let me tell you – American Goldfinches absolutely adore thistle seeds! In fact, they are often referred to as "thistle seed enthusiasts". These bright yellow birds are a common sight at backyard bird feeders during the winter months when other sources of food are scarce.

One reason why goldfinches love thistle seeds is because they are packed with protein and fat – two nutrients that are essential for their survival. Thistle seeds also contain high levels of oil, making them an excellent source of energy. Additionally, these tiny black seeds have a tough outer shell which provides a good workout for the goldfinch’s beak!

If you want to attract more goldfinches to your yard, I highly recommend setting up a thistle feeder. Just make sure it has small holes or ports so that only these little birds can access the seeds inside. You’ll soon find yourself surrounded by a cheerful flock of yellow feathered friends enjoying their favorite snack!

House finches: a common visitor to thistle feeders, just like goldfinches. But what makes them different? Let’s explore in the next section.

House Finches: A Common Visitor To Thistle Feeders

House finches are a common visitor to thistle feeders. These small birds have a bright red plumage and can be easily spotted flitting around gardens, backyards or parks. House finches love thistle seed as it is high in oil content, which provides them with the energy they need for their daily activities.

Thistle seeds are also rich in protein and other essential nutrients that help house finches maintain good health. Therefore, providing these seeds in your backyard feeder will attract more house finches, especially during winter when food sources may become scarce. It’s important to note that if you’re planning on feeding house finches regularly, ensure that the thistle seed is free from contaminants such as mold or bacteria.

In addition to being attracted to thistle feeders all year round, house finches are known to form flocks during breeding season. This behavior is beneficial as male birds learn how to sing better by listening to each other’s songs. In turn, this improves their chances of attracting mates. As spring approaches, keep an eye out for these lovely little birds at your feeder!

As we’ve seen, house finches are one of the most common visitors to thistle feeders due to its high nutritional value. However, there’s another bird species that loves this type of seed even more: pine siskins. Let’s take a closer look at these migratory birds and why they too enjoy snacking on thistle seed.

Pine Siskins: The Migratory Thistle Seed Lover

House Finches are undoubtedly one of the most common visitors to thistle feeders. These small and colorful birds have a particular affinity for thistle seed, which is why they tend to flock to these types of bird feeders.

Pine Siskins are another bird species that cannot resist the allure of thistle seed. As migratory birds, Pine Siskins travel great distances in search of food sources during different times of the year. In fact, they often rely on thistle seeds as their primary source of sustenance during winter months when other food options become scarce.

Thistle seed isn’t just a favorite among House Finches and Pine Siskins; it’s also highly sought after by Common Redpolls. These tiny birds are well-known for their ability to survive cold winters, thanks in part to their love for high-energy foods like thistle seeds. During colder months, you’re likely to find flocks of Common Redpolls gathered around your thistle feeder, eagerly munching away at this nutritious snack.

With its high-fat content and abundance of essential nutrients, there’s no doubt that thistle seed remains a popular choice among many bird species – especially those who need an extra boost during harsh weather conditions. Keep your eye out for Common Redpolls this winter; these adorable little birds are sure to brighten up any dreary day with their cheerful chirps!

Common Redpolls: The Winter Thistle Seed Connoisseur

Common Redpolls are small finches that can be found throughout the northern hemisphere during winter. They are known for their love of thistle seed, which is a crucial part of their diet during the colder months. In fact, they have such a preference for this tiny black seed that it has become synonymous with their name.

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Thistle seed is an excellent source of nutrition for birds like Common Redpolls because it contains high amounts of fat and protein. These nutrients provide the energy needed to keep warm in cold temperatures and maintain a healthy body weight. Additionally, thistle seed is easy to digest, making it an ideal food source for birds with fast metabolisms.

If you want to attract Common Redpolls to your feeder, make sure to offer them fresh thistle seed on a regular basis. Store bought seeds should be free from dust and debris as well as any signs of moisture or mold. You can also try mixing in other types of birdseed or offering suet cakes alongside the thistle seed to create a varied menu that will appeal to different species of birds.


Now that you know why Common Redpolls love thistle seed so much, let’s take a closer look at how you can choose the best quality product for your feeder.

How To Choose The Best Thistle Seed For Your Feeder

When it comes to thistle seed, there are several types to choose from. I recommend going for the highest quality seed you can find, as the birds will appreciate it! Niger seed and other non-thistle alternatives are good for some species, but thistle seed is a favorite for many finches and other small birds. Lastly, make sure to check the expiration date on the package to ensure you’re getting the freshest seed possible.

Types Of Thistle Seed

If you’re looking to attract certain types of birds to your feeder, it’s important to choose the right type of thistle seed. There are several different varieties on the market, each with their own unique qualities that may appeal more to one bird species over another.

One popular type of thistle seed is Nyjer or Niger seed. This small black seed is high in oil and protein, making it a great choice for finches such as goldfinches, purple finches, and house finches. These birds have specialized beaks that allow them to extract the seeds from tiny openings in tube feeders specifically designed for this purpose.

Another option is white proso millet, which can attract a wider variety of birds including sparrows, juncos, mourning doves and even quail. Millet is also relatively inexpensive compared to other types of thistle seed.

Finally, red milo or sorghum grain is a good choice if you want to attract larger birds like cardinals and grosbeaks. The size and shape of these seeds make them easier for bigger birds to handle than smaller seeds like Nyjer.

Remember that regardless of which type of thistle seed you choose, it’s important to keep your feeder clean and dry to prevent mold growth and spoilage. With some careful selection and maintenance, you’ll soon be enjoying a wide variety of feathered friends at your backyard birdfeeder!

Seed Quality

Now that you have an idea of the different types of thistle seed available, it’s important to consider the quality of the seed. The nutritional content and freshness of the seed can make a big difference in attracting birds to your feeder.

Choose seeds that are fresh and free from dust or debris. Old, stale seeds may not be as appealing to birds and can even lead to mold growth. Look for seeds with a high oil and protein content, which will provide essential nutrients for birds during colder months when food sources are scarce.

It’s also important to store your thistle seed properly to maintain its quality. Keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. With these tips in mind, you’ll be sure to attract a variety of feathered friends with high-quality thistle seed at your feeder.

The Best Feeders For Thistle Seed

According to recent studies, thistle seed is one of the most popular bird foods on the market. In fact, over 20 species of birds have been known to consume this tiny black seed. Some of the most common birds that enjoy thistle seed include goldfinches, redpolls, siskins, and pine siskins.

If you’re looking to attract these types of birds to your backyard feeder, it’s important to choose the right type of feeder. Look for a tube or sock style feeder with small openings specifically designed for thistle seed. These feeders will help prevent spillage and waste while also keeping larger birds from stealing food intended for smaller species.

In addition to choosing the right feeder, there are other steps you can take to make your backyard more attractive to thistle-loving birds. Consider planting native flowers such as coneflowers and asters which provide both nectar and seeds for birds. You could also create a water feature such as a birdbath or fountain which will not only attract thirsty birds but also provide a place for them to bathe and preen their feathers.

Tips For Attracting Birds To Your Thistle Feeder

Attracting birds to your thistle feeder can be a rewarding experience for bird lovers. Thistle seed, also known as nyjer seed, is a favorite among many small songbirds such as finches and siskins. These tiny birds have specialized bills that allow them to extract the seeds from small openings in thistle feeders.

To maximize the number of birds visiting your thistle feeder, it’s important to keep it clean and filled with fresh seed. Birds are attracted to bright colors and movement, so consider adding some colorful decorations or hanging wind chimes near your feeder. Additionally, placing your feeder near shrubs or trees will provide shelter for the birds while they eat.

It’s also important to choose the right type of feeder for thistle seed. Look for feeders specifically designed for this type of seed, as they typically have smaller ports that prevent spillage and waste. A tube-style feeder with multiple ports is ideal for attracting flocks of finches at once.

Feeder Type Pros Cons
Tube Feeder Attracts multiple birds at once Requires frequent cleaning
Mesh Sock Feeder Easy to fill and hang Can become clogged with debris
Finch Station Holds large amounts of seed More expensive than other options

Moving on to frequently asked questions about thistle seed and birds…

Frequently Asked Questions About Thistle Seed And Birds

Now that we have covered some tips for attracting birds to your thistle feeder, you may be wondering which specific bird species enjoy thistle seed. Well, the answer is quite simple – finches! More specifically, American goldfinches and house finches are known to adore thistle seed.

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These small but vibrant birds have a unique feeding style where they cling onto the feeder and pluck out individual seeds with their sharp beaks. It’s truly a sight to behold! In addition to their beauty, finches also play an important role in our ecosystem by helping to control insect populations.

While many people assume that only certain types of feeders can accommodate thistle seed, this is not necessarily true. Thistle seed can actually be used in a variety of feeder designs including tube feeders, mesh bags, or even spread on platform feeders. As long as the feeder has small enough openings for the tiny seeds to pass through and is kept clean and dry, it should work just fine.

So next time you’re looking to attract some colorful feathered friends into your backyard, consider offering them some delicious thistle seed. Not only will you get to witness their fascinating feeding habits up close, but you’ll also be doing your part in supporting healthy bird populations in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Different Types Of Thistle Seed Are There And Which Do Birds Prefer?

As an avian nutrition expert, I can tell you that there are several different types of thistle seed available on the market. However, not all of them may be suitable for our feathered friends. When it comes to choosing the best type of thistle seed for birds, it’s important to consider factors such as freshness and quality. Birds tend to prefer fresh and high-quality seeds, which are rich in nutrients and easy to digest. Additionally, some bird species have specific preferences when it comes to the size and texture of their food. Therefore, it’s always a good idea to do your research beforehand and choose a thistle seed variety that is known to be popular among the bird species you’re trying to attract.

Can Thistle Seed Attract Other Types Of Animals Besides Birds?

Thistle seed is a popular choice among bird enthusiasts due to its rich nutritional content. While it primarily attracts birds such as finches, sparrows, and chickadees, it can also attract other small animals like squirrels and chipmunks. However, this can be easily prevented by using squirrel-proof feeders or placing the feeder in an area that is difficult for these animals to reach. It’s important to note that thistle seed should not be the only source of nutrition for birds but rather used as part of a balanced diet including fruits, insects, and nuts. Overall, thistle seed is a great addition to any bird feeding station and will bring joy to both birds and their human observers alike.

Is It Safe To Feed Thistle Seed To Birds Year-Round?

Feeding thistle seed to birds year-round is generally considered safe, but it’s important to ensure a varied diet. Thistle seed is high in fat and protein, which can be beneficial during the winter months when birds need extra energy to survive. However, relying solely on thistle seed can lead to nutritional deficiencies and health problems for birds. It’s recommended that bird feeders offer a mix of seeds, nuts, fruits, and insects to provide a balanced diet for their feathered friends. As always, make sure your feeding station is clean and free from moldy or spoiled food to prevent illness among local bird populations.

How Long Does It Typically Take For Birds To Discover A New Thistle Feeder?

It can take anywhere from a few hours to several days for birds to discover a new thistle feeder. It all depends on the location and accessibility of the feeder, as well as the types of birds in the area. Once they do find it, however, you may notice an increase in bird activity around your yard or garden. Thistle seed is a nutritious and safe option for many species of songbirds, especially finches and sparrows who have specialized beaks designed to extract seeds from small openings. However, it’s important to ensure that feeding stations are cleaned regularly and that fresh seed is provided often to prevent mold growth or spoilage.

Are There Any Special Precautions That Should Be Taken When Handling Thistle Seed For Bird Feeders?

When handling thistle seed for bird feeders, there are a few precautions to keep in mind. Firstly, it’s important to wear gloves while handling the seeds as they can be quite small and difficult to pick up without spilling. Secondly, ensure that the thistle seed is stored in a cool and dry place to prevent moisture buildup which could lead to mold growth. It’s also recommended that you clean your bird feeder regularly with warm soapy water and let it air dry before refilling it with fresh thistle seed. A hypothetical example of why these precautions are necessary would be if someone were to handle the seeds with bare hands and accidentally spilled them onto the ground where they became damp from rainwater. This could cause mold growth which may harm birds who consume the contaminated seeds. As an avian nutrition expert, I strongly advise taking these simple steps to ensure safe and healthy feeding habits for our feathered friends.


As an avian nutrition expert, I can confidently say that thistle seed is a favorite among many bird species. With its high oil content and small size, it’s the perfect snack for birds like finches, siskins, and goldfinches. But did you know that there are different types of thistle seed? Nyjer and black oil sunflower seeds are two popular varieties amongst backyard bird enthusiasts.

While thistle seed may be a tasty treat for our feathered friends, it’s important to remember that other animals may also find it appealing. Squirrels and raccoons have been known to raid bird feeders for their contents. To deter these unwelcome guests, consider placing your feeder on a pole or using squirrel-proof designs.

In conclusion, offering thistle seed as part of your backyard bird feeding routine can bring joy and entertainment to both you and your feathered visitors. Just be sure to handle with care when filling your feeder and take necessary precautions to keep unwanted critters at bay. Sit back and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature in action!

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