Feeding Birds Nyjer, or Black Gold
Which one is it?
Feeding birds Nyjer, or Thistle?
Am I feeding birds Thistle seed, a weed I'm trying to get rid of?
One thing it's not........... it isn't THISTLE!
'Guizotia abyssinia' is the botanical name.
Nyjer, or Niger is related to the sunflower.
It is an annual with shallow roots.
There are no bulbs, rhizomes or anything like that to even confuse it as a thistle plant.
There are no spiny leafs or plant down.
It is a bushy plant.
like most annuals that continues to grow until harvest or a killing frost.
Feeding birds Nyjer or Niger is a good thing.
Nyjer grows to an average of four to five feet tall and can grow just as wide.
It is loaded with little yellow flowers that when pollinated can contain 30 to 40 seeds per head.
Before heat treatment started, I would allow some to grow in my old gardens.
It is a pretty plant.
Harvest time is around four months.
I would leave the plants for feeding birds.
For the sake of this web site, we will refer to Niger as the trade industry name of Nyjer.
Why the name change you may ask?
In the late 1990's, the "Wild Bird Feeding Industry" petitioned and legally registered the trade mark name of Nyjer.
The main reason was to not have it mispronounced as a derogatory term or name.
Nyjer is often called thistle because the tiny seed is similar in shape and size as the weedy thistle we all loath.
You aren't feeding birds a weed.
Nyjer is the only major seed that is imported for feeding birds.
It is a major crop in India, Ethiopia and Nepal.
These countries take care of their own needs first and after that, what remains is sold as birdseed.
We'll be in big trouble if there is a bad crop or more uses are found for it.
In its native lands, once the oil is squeezed out for foods or paints and perfumes, the rest is fed to live stock as a protein rich food.
Feeding birds Nyjer is relatively new.
It has been around the past 40 years or so.
It's a very popular food for all finches (we love our finches).
Doves will be glad to feed on it as well.
In 1985 the Federal Government decided all Nyjer coming into the U.S. Must be heat treated to kill off any noxious weed seeds that might be mixed in.
A few years later, the temperature of 250 degrees for 15 minutes was established as the proper time and temp.
Nyjer just got a little more costly.
In the trade, Nyjer is often referred to as black gold because of the cost.
So much of the price is in shipping from foreign lands and the heat treating.
So tell me, why should I be feeding birds Nyjer?
Nyjer is a protein and oil rich seed.
As much as 22 percent of this tiny package is protein and on average, 37 percent is oil content.
Both are important for a healthy bird, especially during the winter months.
Though it is foreign to our lands, birds just know don't they?
Special feeders were designed feeding birds Nyjer.
These feeders help prevent larger birds and sparrows from monopolizing these tiny seeds.
Most squirrels wont mess with the little seeds.
More Information on Nyjer or Finch Feeders.
It is a soft shelled seed.
It keeps well in dry conditions but goes bad in a short period of time when subjected to moist or humid conditions.
As long as your seeds still have that nice glossy black color, they are good for feeding birds.
If your seeds has a dull look to them or you see a powdery white look to them, it is time to dump and get some fresh.
In most cases, there is no worry of seed going bad in feeders, but it does happen.
Especially the bottom third of your feeder where water can
collect from rain and sprinklers.
Keep an eye on this and change and clean it.
Of course if the seed is bad, your birds will let you know by not visiting your feeders.
A couple of fun facts about Nyjer:
There is no exciting history to share about this plant. However, consider this.
The next time you scoop up a pound of seed, you will be scooping
on average 140,000 seeds.
Now, you can figure how many seeds you go through when you're feeding your birds in a given time frame.
Depending on growing conditions, one acre can grow about 350 to 400 pounds of black gold.
Minnesota and other states are working and developing Nyjer that will grow successfully in our less then tropical conditions.
So, now you know a bit about Nyjer.
You know its value as a people crop and for feeding birds.
Keep an eye on your feed and feeders.
Keep your feed and feeders fresh and clean.
No birds, check your feed. is it dull or powdery white? CHANGE IT!
Feeding Birds Nyjer, you can attract an array of small songbirds.
Go back to Feeding birds to read more on other feeds and seeds.
Native Flowers Offer Seed For Finches
Native Grasses Offer Food and Protection
Native Shrubs for Food and Protection
Native Trees to Attract More Birds
Feed the Hummers
Feeding Birds Nyjer and Offer Water Too
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