Deploying the niger seed

This year I am keeping a list of birds seen in or from my garden.

I’ve seen no new garden bird species for the year, or for life, in December so far but I have deployed the niger seed – a favoured food of the Redpoll which would be a good addition to the list before dusk on 31 December.

Niger seed is expensive! Come on Redpolls!


8 Replies to “Deploying the niger seed”

  1. We have at least one Redpoll coming at the moment here in Wales. Last winter several were here almost all the time including a couple of very striking males. We feed both niger and sunflower hearts, they seem to like both.
    Aren’t they a bit Linnet like for you Mark?
    Its mainly tits ( 5 species) so far as there is a good alder crop locally and all the Siskins and some Redpolls are on that.

  2. Good work Mark, though shouldn’t you be standing out there 24/7 with some holly in your hands pretending to be the ideal spot for a Mistle Thrush?

  3. I made a list this year and was shocked and stunned to find that over 50 bird and duck varieties visited our pond, trees and feeders. We live in North East Scotland.

    There are, however, several species that have declined notably (swallows and house martins, siskins, green and gold finches, for example) and one or two that don’t show up anymore, lapwings, whitethroat and sedge warblers.

    Redpolls remain missing from my lists. Niger seed! I’m off to get some.
    Love a good list though.

    1. This is the irony of feeding wild birds though isn’t it. We feed the birds in our gardens to compensate for the loss of habitat to agriculture and development but it takes further agriculture to produce food for those birds and thus further habitat loss. It has been shown that bird seed can be grown in more sustainable ways but if human food could just be grown in those same sustainable ways then would growing bird food be necessary? At the moment I hope the solution is to make our farming methods better in the near future, restore lost habitats and to start relying less on commercial bird food for 80-90% of the year.
      There are ways to improve your garden and local area for birds to forage in though. For example if Mark was growing a nice stand of teasil then he might not need to fork out for the niger seed. We planted teasil here about 8 or 9 years ago and they’ve self-seeded ever since. Every winter the goldfinches, siskins and redpolls visit to feed on them (and the sunflower hearts I put out).

  4. I tried Niger seed when I started regular feeding several years ago. Everyone said that goldfinches like it.

    However I soon learned that they like sunflower hearts a lot more. The goldfinches completely ignored the Niger and its feeder, and I ended up throwing both away. I hadn’t heard that redpolls are fond of it as well, but when I had the Niger out for a summer I never saw one anyway.

    Now I just keep it simple and feed sunflower hearts and fat balls and between the two they attract just about everything I’m ever likely to get, ironically including big flocks of young goldfinches.

  5. It took a year for goldfinches to discover the Niger in our feeders. back in the day of feeding peanuts our neighbour had streams of goldfinches to his Niger feeder so we bought Niger seed but it was a year before we saw any goldfinches. then we started feeding sunflower hearts and the goldfinches abandoned the Niger and is rotted in the feeders.

  6. Sunflower hearts, peanuts and fat balls seem to do the trick nicely in our garden. Niger (nyger?) seed was tried about 10 years ago and it didn’t seem to be very popular, although that might have been down to the feeder which wasn’t well designed.

    Anyway, this has reminded me that the feeder polls are in need of some greasing. I’m obviously easily amused but the sight of a puzzled grey squirrel sliding down the poll tickles me every time.

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