Preventing bird seed from sprouting | Living the Country Life

Preventing bird seed from sprouting

Enjoy your birds but don't let their food start to grow
Photo courtesy of Terry Hughes

Bird feeders are a wonderful addition to your landscape. But, if the birds don't eat what you set out, what falls to the ground can germinate.

George Petrides is the founder and chairman of Wild Bird Centers of America, Inc. He says the best way to reduce the amount of seed on the ground is to know your birds, what they prefer to eat, and what they don't.

"If the right food is there, then the birds that prefer it in that position, either near the ground or up in the air, are going to eat as much of it as they can and the problem you're addressing here would not occur. And so when we do have these situations, and sometimes we do have seeds that sprout under feeders, it usually gets back to putting the wrong food in perhaps a poorly designed, or the wrong kind of feeder entirely."

You might have a tray under the feeder to catch falling seeds. But when a sloppy squirrel discovers it, he can scatter food every-which-way. Use a baffle below a pole feeder or above a hanging feeder to discourage him. Some people have tried sterilizing the bird seed in the microwave, but this time-consuming.

If all else fails, grab a rake.

"A very simple, but  mechanical step is to rake up the area, which is just good practice anyhow, as a matter of hygiene," says Petrides. "To rake up debris under the feeder is a good idea so I recommend a couple times a month. It's good compost and so you can put it where you need it."

Another way to reduce the number of sprouts coming up is to give the birds something other than seed. Apples and oranges are a treat for thrashers and orioles. Catbirds will eagerly slurp grape jelly from a cup, and many other birds go nuts for peanuts.

Find more tips to prevent bird seed from sprouting

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