Letter: All you need to know about birdseed

When I read the letter from Martha Claudio (Nov. 2, 2021) stating “all commercial bird seed is sterilized to prevent its’ germinating.”  I felt sure somebody would be quick to respond, correct, and clarify that assertion. Many days later I realize I must be the one.

Most seed sold for wild birds will germinate. Bird seed is notorious for starting weed infestations and introducing non-native plants. The only bird seed available that always comes sterilized is Niger (sometimes spelled Nyjer) which is greatly loved by finches.

There are special wild bird seed mixes that do not germinate because they are made up of mostly hulled and broken seeds. They must be labelled as “No Waste” and they do cost more. Unless the bird seed you buy is Niger or labelled “No Waste” or “Sterilized” it will readily germinate. I recently perused the bags of wild bird seed available at a local big box store and other than Niger, not one was sterilized. (Niger seed is often sold as “thistle seed” even though it is not truly thistle.)

You can, however, easily sterilize bird seed yourself. Spread it out in a roasting pan and bake it for 15 minutes at 250 degrees F, or I’ve read that you can microwave your birdseed in a paper bag for 5 minutes. I have used the oven roasting method for decades and can attest to its’ efficacy.

— Therese Frankenberg, Chico

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