Although nyger seed is fed to birds throughout all seasons, many backyard bird feeding enthusiasts shy away from offering the tiny, black seeds to their feathered dining patrons during the summer. Is there some basis for this concern? Most definitely, however, here is how and why I do.
Nyger seeds are typically relished by a small number of the birds that visit our feeders. American goldfinches and pine siskins are especially fond of them. Other birds that consume nyger seeds are mourning doves, purple and house finches, dark-eyed juncos and indigo buntings, to name a few. However, during the summer, in my yard, the vast majority of the nyger seeds are eaten by American goldfinches.
That is fine with me, since I would rarely have a chance to regularly enjoy gazing across my yard at splendor of a male goldfinch in full breeding plumage if they did not come to my feeders to feed. To me, it is worth the money I spend on nyger seed to enjoy this pleasure. As anybody that feeds birds knows, nyger is the most expensive seed we offer in our feeders.
The reason for this is it is raised overseas. Most of the 70 million pounds of it that is imported into the United States is raised in India and Ethiopia. The cost of shipping the seed that far jacks up the price. On top of that, the United States Department of Agriculture requires that all nyger seed undergo costly heat sterilization. This is done in attempt to keep potential invasive weeds that might contaminate the nyger seeds from entering the United States. As a result, we can pay $60 or more for a 20-pound sack of nyger seed. This is definitely not a seed you want to waste.
Since nyger seed contains 40 percent fat, it spoils easily. In addition, nyger seeds have very thin coats. With that in mind, they can spoil in the matter of a few days in the hot summer sun.
Consequently, during the summer I fill my nyger seed feeders with a small amount of seed. I also store nyger seed in a cool place. If I have room in my freezer, I will often store it there.
I also buy small amounts of the seed. The reason for this is once it becomes rancid the birds shy away from it.
The bottom line is throughout the summer the birds will dine on nyger seed in your backyard can get along very nicely without it. If, however, you live within the American goldfinch’s breeding range in Georgia (throughout the state except in the southeastern counties), and you want to enhance your chances of seeing American goldfinches when they are most beautiful, nyger just might help you accomplish that goal.