What Kind of Birdseed Won’t Make Grass Grow?. Watching the antics of birds hopping on feeders and battling over seed is one of the many reasons to feed wild birds. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong seed or don’t follow good feeding habits, you can end up with a mess of weeds around your feeders. Birds … There are many no-waste bird foods that can make feeding the birds easy and convenient without the mess. How To Keep Bird Seed From Sprouting Birds love the food we put out for them, and most bird watchers will enjoy watching the use the feeders which are out for them. Birds really love nuts and
What Kind of Birdseed Won’t Make Grass Grow?
Watching the antics of birds hopping on feeders and battling over seed is one of the many reasons to feed wild birds. Unfortunately, if you choose the wrong seed or don’t follow good feeding habits, you can end up with a mess of weeds around your feeders. Birds know what they like and will pick through seed mixes to find what they want, leaving the discarded seeds to sprout. Choosing the right seed can keep your garden tidy as you continue to feed your avian visitors.
No Waste Mixes
Most wild bird mixes found in stores that don’t specialize in birdseed contain an abundance of milo and millet. While some birds such as juncos and sparrows love millet, many other species will pick through, trying to get to other items in the mix. Few birds eat milo. As the birds pick through the mix, millet and milo fall to the ground and will eventually sprout into grass-like weeds. To avoid this, visit a store that specializes in wild bird food and choose a mix specially designed for what the birds in your area prefer. The food may cost more, but much less will make its way to the ground to become a weed.
Sunflower chips are hulled sunflower seeds that are chopped into pieces. With the kernel hulled and chopped, the seed won’t sprout. Sunflower chips make an excellent feeder choice because they are one of the top seed choices by a variety of birds including jays, woodpeckers, finches, grosbeaks and chickadees.
Cracked corn consists of dried corn that is split into pieces. Unlike whole kernels of corn, the pieces of cracked corn can no longer sprout. Jays, doves, quail, sparrows and even ducks are attracted to feeders that contain cracked corn.
Although it sounds like a weed, nyjer thistle is not the standard thistle with the purple bloom that gardeners try to keep out of their yards. Nyjer thistle is a small black seed favored by birds such as finches, juncos and pine siskins. Quality nyjer thistle is typically heated so it won’t sprout. If a few plants do sprout, they rarely grow to a mature plant in North America.
Feeding your birds wisely helps reduce seed waste and therefore helps control any likelihood of grass or other weeds growing under your feeders. Using a bird feeder with a seed-catching tray underneath helps catch any discarded seed before it hits the ground. Providing one type of seed in each feeder will keep birds from picking through mixes to find the type of seed they like. In addition to seed, set out fruit, suet and hummingbird feeders to attract a wide array of wild birds.
No Waste Bird Foods
Melissa Mayntz is a bird expert, certified Master Naturalist, writer, and author with over three decades of experience. She’s published in several national magazines, including National Wildlife Magazine, Bird Watcher’s Digest, and WildBird Magazine. Melissa has studied hundreds of bird species around the world, traveling to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the central Pacific, the Middle East, and more on birding expeditions.
theilr / Flick / CC by-SA 2.0
Feeding birds can be an enjoyable hobby, but it can also be a messy one as layers of hulls and discarded seeds accumulate under feeders, on decks, and across patios. By choosing no waste bird foods, however, that mess can be avoided and the birds will enjoy every morsel of available food.
What Makes Bird Feeding Messy
Birds are naturally messy eaters, and feeding birds for a long time can lead to dirty feeders and messy ground beneath those feeders. Unappetizing seeds will be kicked out and discarded, and birds drop hulls as they feed. Discarded seed can mold and rot, or it may sprout beneath the bird feeder, leading to undesirable weeds or damaging turf. A messy feeding area can attract pests and may result in fines or other sanctions in HOA communities. Birders who choose no waste bird foods will avoid many of these problems while giving their birds the best, most nutritious foods.
Types of No Waste Bird Foods
No-waste bird food is a type of food that birds completely consume, with no leftover hulls or uneaten pieces. There are natural no waste foods, such as floral nectar, insects, small berries, small nuts, and crabapples that birds can swallow whole. Offering these natural foods is the ideal way to keep feeding areas clean and to economize a bird feeding budget.
For supplemental bird feeders, there is a wide variety of no waste, no mess options, including:
hearts or chips (check ingredients to be sure there are no hulls in the blend)
- Hulled millet
- Shelled peanuts or orange marmalade (use only sparingly as rare “treats”)
These foods can be purchased individually or in specialized no waste or no mess seed blends, often with different compositions designed to attract different types of birds. While these no waste blends are more expensive than traditional birdseed, they can be a more economical option overall because birders are not paying for the weight of hulls or filler seeds birds will not eat.
Benefits of No Waste Foods
The most obvious benefit of no waste bird foods is that the birds are able to eat the entire quantity of food. This can mean feeders need less frequent refilling, and cleaning the feeders is easier because there is no need to remove unwanted debris. Because no waste birdseed has no hulls, the seeds are also unable to sprout and there will be no unintentional weeds or damage under the feeders. With less seed spilled to the ground, fewer feeder pests such as mice, rats, raccoons, squirrels, deer, and other animals will be attracted to the area.
Tips for Feeding No Waste Foods
Because no waste birdseed and other foods are typically more expensive than basic seed blends, it is important to feed them as economically as possible and to care for the seed so it is not wasted in other ways.
so it will stay fresh and dry as long as possible, free from rodent or insect infestations. Storing birdseed in a freezer or refrigerator can ensure it stays fresh and is not contaminated by pests.
- Use no waste birdseed on decks, balconies, patios, or other areas where mess is undesirable, but use less expensive seed elsewhere to lower the bird feeding budget and offer more feeding options for more birds.
- Use platforms under feeders so any unintentional waste is minimized and larger birds can feed from the platform to clean up spillage. This will also create extra feeding space to accommodate flocks. with suitable placement and covers, since hulled seeds will spoil more quickly when wet. On rainy days, consider leaving feeders empty to avoid mildewed or damp seed.
- Buy different no waste seeds and foods in bulk and create customized seed mixes rather than paying for expensive manufactured blends. This ensures the seeds offered are perfect for exactly the backyard birds that visit.
No mess bird seed and other no waste bird foods are ideal choices for feeding birds and eliminating much of the mess that comes with bird feeding. By choosing these high-quality, desirable foods, birders can attract a wide range of birds to their feeders without needing to clean up after them.
How To Keep Bird Seed From Sprouting
Birds love the food we put out for them, and most bird watchers will enjoy watching the use the feeders which are out for them. Birds really love nuts and seeds but the downside to putting these out is that spilled seed can sprout and start growing where we don’t want it to.
Having to weed out shoots you don’t want does take away some of the enjoyment of putting the food out in the first place. There are a few things you can do to stop your bird seed from landing on the grass and sprouting.
How To Protect Your Garden From Bird Seed
There’s no way to stop birds from dropping seeds. As they feed, seeds will fall out of the feeder and the birds will simply carry on feeding.
Here are a few ways you can limit how much seeds lands on your garden.
Check The Feeder
- If you’re using a platform feeder, you may find it’s not as secure as you thought, or it may be at an angle. If the feeder isn’t flat, seed could easily fall when the birds land on it.
- Ideally your feeder needs a raised edge as this can help prevent seeds from being blown off the table if it’s windy.
- You should also make sure you do not put too much seed on or in your feeder. If it overflows, the seed will soon pile up on the ground.
One simple way to stop the seed from falling to the ground is to fit a seed catcher. You can buy seed catchers for most types of feeder or you could make your own. All you need is something that fits below the feeder ready to catch anything that falls off it.
Divide Up The Garden
For most people the problem with bird seed sprouting is that it gets in to the grass and spoils the lawn.
One great way to protect the lawn is to have a separate area for feeding birds. This can be set up with patio slabs or decking placed around the area where your feeders will be. This means the seeds will not sprout and it makes it easy for you to sweep them up to deter unwanted visitors to your garden.
Check Your Seed
When you put food out, you want to make sure there is as little waste, so you need to find a way to make sure that the birds eat as much as possible.
- While birds may not be the tidiest of eaters, they may be trying to tell you something if you look closely at the seeds on the ground. If you notice that most of the discarded seeds are the same type, it may simply be that the birds don’t like them. They can’t tell you this, so they do the next best thing and throw them away to get to the seeds they like. If you spot this, try using a different seed mix which does not have those seeds in.
- Some companies offer ‘no waste’ bird seed. Some seeds such as sunflower seeds have an outer layer which the birds chip away to get to the seed inside. This hull is then discarded on the ground. ‘No waste’ seed mixes have seeds which have already been hulled so the birds will eat everything with a lot less mess. Be careful when purchasing ‘no waste’ bird seed as some companies add chemicals to the mix to stop them from sprouting, and this can damage both the seeds and the birds.
- Suet mixes are also a good way to stop seeds falling on the ground. The suet holds the seeds together and the birds love the taste of suet so they’ll eat all that as well.
You can also try using seeds which will not germinate if they fall on the ground. Some examples of these are black oil sunflower chips or nyjer seeds.
Take a look at the YouTube video below for some additional tips to stop bird seed from sprouting!
Sterilize The Seed
Some experts don’t recommend this as they say it spoils the nutritional benefits of the seeds, but there is no evidence which actually suggests this.
Sterilizing the seeds simply means they will not germinate and the easiest way to do this is to heat them.
- Oven: in an oven, place the seed on a baking sheet and cook or 30 minutes at 300 degrees.
- Microwave: Place the seed in a paper bag and microwave for 5 minutes on high.
Always leave the seeds to cool properly before placing in your feeder.
It’s not always easy to clean up discarded seeds every day, but try to keep the area around your feeders as clean and tidy as possible. This not only prevents them from sprouting, but stops them going moldy and will prevent creatures you don’t want in your yard from coming to feed.
- If you leave the feeder empty for a day, the birds may find the seeds on the ground and dispose of them for you.
- Raking the grass can help but if the seeds are small then an outdoor vacuum may be better.
Once you know you won’t have to deal with sprouting seeds, you can sit back and relax, enjoying the birds as they visit your garden.
Birds are fantastic creatures, with such a great presence in every culture around the globe, and are one of the crucial elements of the equilibrium of all land-based ecosystems. They are an inspiration, and a living treasure of our planet.