Birds love the food we put out for them, and most bird watchers will enjoy watching the use the feeders which are out for them. Birds really love nuts and seeds but the downside to putting these out is that spilled seed can sprout and start growing where we don’t want it to.
Having to weed out shoots you don’t want does take away some of the enjoyment of putting the food out in the first place. There are a few things you can do to stop your bird seed from landing on the grass and sprouting.
How To Protect Your Garden From Bird Seed
There’s no way to stop birds from dropping seeds. As they feed, seeds will fall out of the feeder and the birds will simply carry on feeding.
Here are a few ways you can limit how much seeds lands on your garden.
Check The Feeder
- If you’re using a platform feeder, you may find it’s not as secure as you thought, or it may be at an angle. If the feeder isn’t flat, seed could easily fall when the birds land on it.
- Ideally your feeder needs a raised edge as this can help prevent seeds from being blown off the table if it’s windy.
- You should also make sure you do not put too much seed on or in your feeder. If it overflows, the seed will soon pile up on the ground.
One simple way to stop the seed from falling to the ground is to fit a seed catcher. You can buy seed catchers for most types of feeder or you could make your own. All you need is something that fits below the feeder ready to catch anything that falls off it.
Divide Up The Garden
For most people the problem with bird seed sprouting is that it gets in to the grass and spoils the lawn.
One great way to protect the lawn is to have a separate area for feeding birds. This can be set up with patio slabs or decking placed around the area where your feeders will be. This means the seeds will not sprout and it makes it easy for you to sweep them up to deter unwanted visitors to your garden.
Check Your Seed
When you put food out, you want to make sure there is as little waste, so you need to find a way to make sure that the birds eat as much as possible.
- While birds may not be the tidiest of eaters, they may be trying to tell you something if you look closely at the seeds on the ground. If you notice that most of the discarded seeds are the same type, it may simply be that the birds don’t like them. They can’t tell you this, so they do the next best thing and throw them away to get to the seeds they like. If you spot this, try using a different seed mix which does not have those seeds in.
- Some companies offer ‘no waste’ bird seed. Some seeds such as sunflower seeds have an outer layer which the birds chip away to get to the seed inside. This hull is then discarded on the ground. ‘No waste’ seed mixes have seeds which have already been hulled so the birds will eat everything with a lot less mess. Be careful when purchasing ‘no waste’ bird seed as some companies add chemicals to the mix to stop them from sprouting, and this can damage both the seeds and the birds.
- Suet mixes are also a good way to stop seeds falling on the ground. The suet holds the seeds together and the birds love the taste of suet so they’ll eat all that as well.
You can also try using seeds which will not germinate if they fall on the ground. Some examples of these are black oil sunflower chips or nyjer seeds.
Sterilize The Seed
Some experts don’t recommend this as they say it spoils the nutritional benefits of the seeds, but there is no evidence which actually suggests this.
Sterilizing the seeds simply means they will not germinate and the easiest way to do this is to heat them.
- Oven: in an oven, place the seed on a baking sheet and cook or 30 minutes at 300 degrees.
- Microwave: Place the seed in a paper bag and microwave for 5 minutes on high.
Always leave the seeds to cool properly before placing in your feeder.
It’s not always easy to clean up discarded seeds every day, but try to keep the area around your feeders as clean and tidy as possible. This not only prevents them from sprouting, but stops them going moldy and will prevent creatures you don’t want in your yard from coming to feed.
- If you leave the feeder empty for a day, the birds may find the seeds on the ground and dispose of them for you.
- Raking the grass can help but if the seeds are small then an outdoor vacuum may be better.
Once you know you won’t have to deal with sprouting seeds, you can sit back and relax, enjoying the birds as they visit your garden.