Niger seed originally comes from the African Yellow Daisy. These tiny seeds have to be treated and sterilised with high temperatures to try to prevent any possible germination in your garden, although in perfect weather conditions there may still be a chance of this happening.
These little seeds are full of essential oils which provide a great source of fat and protein to keep the birds healthy. Niger seeds will provide the calories the birds rely on in winter from eating these seeds. The high protein will help with the regeneration of feathers when moulting occurs.
What types of birds eat Niger seeds?
Niger seed is more well kown for bringing in Goldfinches and Greenfinches. Although niger seed is referred to as thistle seed, the niger is actually more closely related to the sunflower heart seeds.
As niger seed is such a fine seed, these seeds should be used with a specific Niger seed feeder to stop the seed from spilling out. These feeders are designed so that the feeding port has got 4 small slits in them to allow the birds to access the niger without it all falling out onto the floor. Adding a tray to the bottom of the niger feeder will help stop any excess seeds falling onto the floor.
When putting out new seed, always keep the seed they are used to close by to allow them to build up confidence to go onto the new feeder/seed. If you are not sure how to gage how much Niger seed to put out, you can always buy a Goldfinch Finder which is already pre-filled so you dont waste any unwanted seed.
It can take a while for birds to get used to something new so give it a week or so before thinking it may not be working. As birds are fussy animals, especially when it comes to niger seed, the oil in seeds can dry out so make sure its not left in the feeder for more than 4 weeks without it being changed.