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striper192001

Birds not eating my Nyger/thistle seed

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Currently my feeding is pretty simple.  I have a suet feeder that is getting hammered by woodpeckers.  I have a feeder full of grey striped sunflower seed that has a lot of activity.  Right next to it I have a Droll Yankee tube type feeder designed for thistle seed.  Couple years ago, seed got moisture and got moldy.  I disassembled the whole feeder, cleaned it out and let it dry.  Bought fresh seed this fall and filled it but no birds are using/feeding from it.  I just don't understand it ??

Thanks for any help !

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Dear striper,

 

This is just a guess since you make no mention of your location but in my neck of the woods, Central Pennsylvania, the finches have moved on to warmer climates.  Around April they will start coming back but until then I see no need to put out nyger seed.  I pretty much stick to suet and sunflower seeds now along with a mix of generic "bird food" that has cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and those little round seeds that I don't know the name of?  I get plenty of woodpeckers at the suet and lots of sparrows, nuthatches, cardinals, titmice and a few stragglers at the other feeders.

 

I really need to learn more about ID'ing the birds in my yard so I joined this board.  Even if I never get good at ID'ing birds I'll always enjoy watching them.

 

Regards,

 

Tim Murphy

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Not knowing where you are I can't speculate on why the finches aren't all over your thistle.  One thing I read last year when I couldn't figure out why they weren't eating from my thistle sock which had always been so popular was that there may be something about the quality of the seed.  Apparently when they bite it open there should be oil inside.  I haven't found any oil in any of my thistle seed.  I am waiting for new seed to appear in the markets and try again this year.  I hope someone answers who is more familiar with this problem.  Seems like I put out safflower seed on a platform feeder last year and that's what they loved, and it was all they'd eat.  That's my experience with this.

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I have Goldfinches most of the winter, but I believe thistle goes stale quickly. If I buy from a place that doesn't sell a lot, or if I buy a lot, the birds don't eat it. I have throw the thistle out and buy fresh from a place that sells a lot.

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Funny you mention this. I've noticed that when we buy thistle from the big W store, the birds love it. When we buy from our local bird store, they don't touch it. I prefer to buy local, but I don't want to keep throwing away seed.

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I find their attraction to it comes and goes. I'm not sure if its a freshness issue like stated above, or what. We have finches year round here though.

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I am kind of doubting freshness is an issue, as well.  I had Nyjer from last spring that was kept in the basement and used it to fill the double sock feeder as it had always been popular in the winter.  Hardly a taker this year.  At first I thought it was all the Maximilian Sunflowers I planted, but then the finches came full force after a time and ignored the feeder.

 

We have finches all year.  I bought a small bag to see if maybe mine wasn't fresh enough for the birds, but still hardly a taker.  The Goldfinches are preferring Black Oil Sunflower and the WBU Supreme cylinder this year.  I guess I'll just put the Nyjer all out for the doves when they return.  They aren't picky.

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When I lived in Pennsylvania last year, the goldfinches would empty my upside down thistle feeder in less than two weeks.  Now that I have moved back down to Alabama, the goldfinches have ignored my thistle feeder and like to eat sunflower seeds with the other birds.  Its almost as if all of them have decided that thistle is not as good to eat as it used to be?  I thought it was just a dirty feeder or old seed so it is interesting that others have seen them not going for thistle anymore.  Don't have a good explanation but would like to hear one.

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Last year, I had 2 tube feeders and a sock feeder full of thistle and couldn't keep them full. This year I have one tube feeder and one sock and I'm not filling them often. However, I am feeding a HUGE amount of plain ole' white millet and sunflower hearts. The goldfinches are eating the sunflower, and the chippers are eating the millet. The siskins are eating both. I guess it's just the season and their mood. Try some white millet if they aren't eating the thistle.

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When I lived in Pennsylvania last year, the goldfinches would empty my upside down thistle feeder in less than two weeks.  Now that I have moved back down to Alabama, the goldfinches have ignored my thistle feeder and like to eat sunflower seeds with the other birds.  Its almost as if all of them have decided that thistle is not as good to eat as it used to be?  I thought it was just a dirty feeder or old seed so it is interesting that others have seen them not going for thistle anymore.  Don't have a good explanation but would like to hear one.

Didn't realize till just now, that you are right up the road from me, so to speak. As noted above, we are seeing the same thing.

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Thanks for the replies.......I am in NW Vermont so maybe not here.  Have seen a couple chick a dees eat some but not much.  I may be more critical of where I buy in the future but not really worried about it......

the suet is getting hammered in this cold however.........gonna stock up !

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Thanks for the replies.......I am in NW Vermont so maybe not here.  Have seen a couple chick a dees eat some but not much.  I may be more critical of where I buy in the future but not really worried about it......

the suet is getting hammered in this cold however.........gonna stock up !

I'm sorry... I was looking at a post from some one that lives in Alabama.... certainly you aren't close by. :) 

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I took this pic yesterday, and as you can see, I have Pine Siskins.  There are a couple more feeders off to the left you can't see, that are full of them as well.  What you also can't see are the three nyjer feeders off to the right that have absolutely no one on them.  I'm not even sure why I bother to put it out, it gets very little use.

 

ZXBNv6Q.jpg

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I wasn't getting any finches this year, so I threw out the thistle seed, bought a fresh bag, refilled the feeder and moved it. To make sure the finches saw the feeder, I tied a long yellow ribbon around the top of the feeder- this was recommended by the man at the bird feed store- and now I have finches! I refill the feeders every other day. I don't know if it was the seed or the ribbon, but the ribbon trick can't hurt if you want to give it a try!

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I'm going to try putting a new feeder out with some fresh thistle in it in March.  I may try putting the yellow ribbon on it.... That sounds like an interesting idea....

 

Roll Tide Woodswoman!

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I thought that I would throw in this observation.  My tube feeder was seemingly ignored for weeks by the finches.  When I went to change out the niger (thistle), I turned the tube upside down and then realized that rain water had got into the inside of the tube and the thistle/niger was caked-solid.  After a thorough cleaning and a refill, it was half empty, every day.  lesson learned: check to insure that the seed moves freely in the tube by turning it upside down (holding the cap on) and inspecting the movement of the seed- should move freely.

 

As far as the seed socks go, since that are out in the open, I have to squeeze mine and if they are getting cakey and feel solid (especially in the bottom of the sock), I'll remove the old, wash and dry out the sock and refill...problems solved.

 

I must have no less than thirty female Am Goldfinches and probably that many male and female house finches here all winter.  They're straining my retirement budget but, currently, I'm dealing with it.

 

They also LOVE B Oil Sunflower seeds, especially if I get the "meaties" (they're about 70% shelled.

 

Good luck with the feeders.  They do clog up.

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Yah, I had to stop using the standard plastic tube feeders cause I couldn't keep them from turning nasty.  So far the wire mesh tube feeder seems to be less prone to it, though it'll get a bit nasty at the bottom on occasion.

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22 hours ago, Birdhound said:

Has anyone thought about interviewing them, perhaps taking a random poll and asking them why they will or won't eat thistle seed?

Hi and welcome to WhatBird!  I think someone put up a poll on this topic, but there wasn't a peep... Maybe the birds could tweet their opinions?

I realize you were joking, but the conversation you responded to was from almost 3 years ago. But now that you're here look around at the more current conversations!

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There was a conversation about this last year where the conclusion was that when nyjer is not fresh that it dries out and loses the oil that is inside the seed.  When this happens, the birds will not eat it since the nourishment value is greatly reduced.  Several people on here stated that they always buy their nyjer from a place that sells a lot of it to try to make sure that what they are buying is as fresh as possible.  I hope this helps.  I'll try to repost that thread.   

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We had the exact same issue for months, and we figured out what it was.  Dried up Nyjer!  Eyeball any Nyjer seed you buy and make CERTAIN it's dark in color and SHINY.  That last part is crucial.  It's the oil in the Nyjer the birds are going for, and if it's dried up there is no nutritional value AT ALL, so they will avoid it like the plague.  Imagine eating cardboard.

Avoid big box store Nyjer seed, because they will often store it too long and in a non-climate controlled area.  We had no idea how bad the Nyjer seed was that we were buying until we bought some from a wild bird specialty store (not sure if I can put out a brand or store name here in the forums).  We got home, poured some of the old into a white dish, then poured some of the new into a white dish.  Sure enough, the NEW bag we had purchased at a big box store was brown, some of it light brown, and dull.  The new bag from the wild bird specialty store was very dark, and very noticeably SHINY.

Nyjer seed is too expensive to buy the inferior stuff, trust me.  Buy the good stuff and the finches (especially the goldfinches) will devour the stuff.  We were shocked to see how fast that stuff was disappearing in ONE day.

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On 2/3/2015 at 7:08 AM, woodswoman said:

Last year, I had 2 tube feeders and a sock feeder full of thistle and couldn't keep them full. This year I have one tube feeder and one sock and I'm not filling them often. However, I am feeding a HUGE amount of plain ole' white millet and sunflower hearts. The goldfinches are eating the sunflower, and the chippers are eating the millet. The siskins are eating both. I guess it's just the season and their mood. Try some white millet if they aren't eating the thistle.

I lived in Mobile, AL till about 4 years ago, when I moved to Wetumpka. :)  Just an update on our Nyjer feeders.... we have 4 mesh feeders and one sock, and they're half empty by noon.  They're also all over the Stackers feeders, I'm assuming for the sunflower hearts, and the other feeders where we have the no mess seed with sunflower hearts.  I can't even believe how many there are out there.  I always refill the Nyjer feeders when they reach about 1/2 full because it means less of them are accessing the seeds.  Getting the fresh seed made ALL the difference in the world.  Haven't seen one house finch eat it, though, and I thought I read that they do?

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1 hour ago, SummerShaddow said:

I lived in Mobile, AL till about 4 years ago, when I moved to Wetumpka. :)  Just an update on our Nyjer feeders.... we have 4 mesh feeders and one sock, and they're half empty by noon.  They're also all over the Stackers feeders, I'm assuming for the sunflower hearts, and the other feeders where we have the no mess seed with sunflower hearts.  I can't even believe how many there are out there.  I always refill the Nyjer feeders when they reach about 1/2 full because it means less of them are accessing the seeds.  Getting the fresh seed made ALL the difference in the world.  Haven't seen one house finch eat it, though, and I thought I read that they do?

I use only sock feeders for thistle seed, 2 during the summer when I have nothing but local Lesser Goldfinches, and 4 during the winter when I have lots of American Goldfinches also. I have House Finches year round and they feed from the socks regularly, as well as the hanging and platform feeders with sunflower seed hearts. I think the best thing to attract many birds is to offer a variety of foods in a variety of feeders, since some birds seem to prefer to take their food different ways. I buy quality thistle seeds and will empty the socks and clean them if the seeds get wet and clump at the bottom.

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I've had lousy luck with thistle at my current location.  This is the first year the wintering American Goldfinches have shown any interest, and this year they're emptying the sock in about three days.  I thought about a more durable, water-resistant type of feeder, but it's fun to watch them jam themselves on there in every possible position.  I had a two-sock feeder with a reservoir on the top that sat unused for a couple of years.  Obviously, six months after I gave it away, the little buggers finally start eating thistle...

The House Finches continue to ignore it.

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7 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

I've had lousy luck with thistle at my current location.  This is the first year the wintering American Goldfinches have shown any interest, and this year they're emptying the sock in about three days.  I thought about a more durable, water-resistant type of feeder, but it's fun to watch them jam themselves on there in every possible position.  I had a two-sock feeder with a reservoir on the top that sat unused for a couple of years.  Obviously, six months after I gave it away, the little buggers finally start eating thistle...

The House Finches continue to ignore it.

I had to get two longish metal mesh feeders, then added another because they were emptying so fast.  So we now have 3 of those and 2 socks.  I've lived in this house 4 years, and it was only last year we decided to try the Nyjer.  Got the cheap stuff, like a fool, and they wouldn't touch it.  But even with the good stuff the house finches have no interest in the Nyjer, but they ALWAYS go to the hopper feeder with the WBU no mess stuff in it.  The pair has been making regular visits together at the feeder with that in it.  It's all good if they're eating and happy, and the goldfinches eat a lot of Nyjer, and they get on the Stackers (both seed and peanut/woodpecker), and the mix of stuff we make ourselves which we put in small, hanging mesh feeders.  They have a more diverse diet than I originally thought.  Still, it seems like do like the Nyjer best.

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