We are willing to buy a quality wild bird feed that may cost more if it provides us with the experience they we are expecting, that is attracting a large variety of desirable birds to our backyard. So at the Wild Bird Habitat Stores we believe in educating our customers about the difference between the quality wild bird feed we offer and the economy wild bird feed sold at the big box and grocery stores.
Birds can identify which seeds are high in protein and will not waste time on seeds that provide insufficient nutrition. This is why filler seeds are ejected on the ground.
Birds also select seeds by weight. For example, black oil sunflower seeds that are not mature are under developed due to disease, or the nut partially consumed by insects are lighter in weight and not attractive to birds.
A bird must consume as much as they can in a short period of time. They are on constant alert for predators, and must compete with allowed time at the bird feeder by other birds. As such birds will only select seeds that meet their needed requirements.
The “ideal diet” for many birds in the wild is high in fats and proteins...the opposite of ours as humans. Sunflower, safflower, Nyjerand peanuts range between 20-25% protein and 30-40% fat. That’s why they make up the majority of Wild Bird Habitat’s favorite high quality bird feed mixes. You’ll find “cheap” mixes full of milo, wheat, red millet, and assorted grain products birds don’t care for. Most all of these “low cost” seed mixes only contain 8-12% protein and 2-4% fat. The evidence is on the ground where as much as 40% of it will end up scattered by the birds and uneaten.
READING LABELS ON WILD BIRD FEED BAGS
Wild bird feed mixes are required to list the actual ingredients they contain and labeled in an order of contents from greater to least of each ingredient. All ingredients used in wild bird feeds must be correctly identified in the ingredient section. Labels on wild bird feeds should specify if it meets the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO)
Read labels carefully: Watch for questionable statements & misleading label Information.
For example: products claiming to have nuts, fruits and other ingredients should have those ingredients specifically listed in the ingredient section on the bag or label.
Every wild bird seed label must have guaranteed levels of crude protein, crude fat, crude fiber and moisture.
GENERAL WILD BIRD MIXES
Many inexpensive general wild bird mixes contain filler seeds such as Milo, wheat, red millet, and other products that songbirds and many of our favorite backyard birds do not eat. Some bags may even list “assorted grail products”. As much as 40% of a bag of bird seed that contains these filler seeds can end up uneaten and wasted on the ground, doubling or even tripling the cost of that inexpensive bag of wild bird feed you purchased. And with the recent spike in white Proso millet due to the 2011 / 2012 drought, many packagers of wild bird feeds added barley, and additional filler seeds to keep the cost down.
A good quality general wild bird mix has a base of white Proso millet with cracked corn, peanuts, and sunflower seeds and maybe some safflower seed added to it although recipes vary. Some higher quality general wild bird mixes may even contain hulled sunflower seeds. But no matter what a bag of wild bird feed contains it is required by law to list all the ingredients along with the order of content. Wild Bird Habitat encourages you to read the labels on bags of general wild bird feeds and avoid those which contain filler seeds. You’ll actually save money in the long run purchasing a quality general wild bird mix than the inexpensive bags offered at many retail outlets and grocery stores that contain fillers.
NYJER THISTLE SEED
Caution must be taken to assure the thistle seed you purchase is fresh or the finch you are trying to attract will reject it. Nyjer thistle seed is imported from Ethiopia and India. When it reaches North America it is sterilized by heat treatment to deter the germination of noxious weeds. This starts a drying out of the oils in the seed which is what attracts the finch. If sterilized Nyjer thistle seed is then warehoused for extended periods of time before it reaches the shelf for the consumer to purchase, such as at big box stores, hardware stores, and farm stores, it can lead to the oils drying out even more. At that point the finch will ignore it.
BLACK OIL SUNFLOWER SEED
Black oil sunflower seed is a staple in many backyard bird feeders and it’s hard to pass up a good deal. But cut rate prices on bags of black oil sunflower seed, especially at general retail outlets and big box stores, might be an indication it is from a crop that was diseased, under-matured due to growing conditions, or infected with insects.
The food industry crushes black oil sunflower seed to extract the sunflower oils for market. Only Grade-A seeds are selected. Most all other inferior grades of black oil sunflower are purchased by large wild bird feed packaging companies and sold to retail chains such as big box stores and grocery stores. The kernels inside the shells of these black oil sunflower seeds rejected by the food industry are often deformed, under developed, or partially eaten. Again it is buyer beware.
The bottom line is read the labels when buying wild bird feeds and buy your wild bird feed from a reputable dealer. It can not only save you money in the long run, but increase the excitement of your backyard bird feeding experience by attracting more of your favorite birds.