ARTISTS AND BIRDS

"The Price of Bird Seed"

Lesser Goldfinch

lesser goldfinches        One question that always comes up when people ask about bird seed is, "why is the cost of Nyjer (thistle) seed so expensive?" Nyjer seed is a guaranteed attractant for the finch family. If you want Lesser and American Goldfinches, Cassin's and House Finches, and Pine Siskins at your feeder, you need to feed tiny black Nyjer seeds. We hang one Nyjer (thistle) sock at our place. Our thistle sock is covered with hungry Finches every day . . . most all day long. If we hung three or four of these feeders and filled them each day, we would have to get a second mortgage on our home to pay for the seed . . . thank goodness for neighbors who invite the Finches to their feeders. The seed is it high, but why?

        Nyjer seed is grown in Africa and Asia, and does not grow well here in North America. This little black seed is packed full of oils and fats so the birds love eating this energy source. In the past, Nyjer seed was contaminated with weed seeds. American farmers considered it a noxious weed. Then a technique was developed of heating the seeds to make them sterile so any dropped seed would not sprout. This process brought a lot of smiles, but the price of Nyjer seed is still high and will probably stay there due to shipping costs and periodic crop failures abroad.

        There is, however, a great way to keep your cost for seed down, plant Sunflowers! All finches love Sunflower seeds. We are coming to the perfect time of year to plant, and Sunflower is a sure-fire crop for Washington County and all of Utah. Remember traveling the freeways last year . . . there was Sunflower everywhere. Next to the paved roads . . . blanketing open fields recently ravaged with fire . . . along gullies and irrigated field crops. Sunflower seeds are inexpensive, and there are many varieties. Why not beautify your yard this year by planting beds of sunflowers and invite those loveable Finches to dinner?

        Judy Warren is the artist for the beautiful male and female Lesser Goldfinch. I think she looked out her window to paint this picture. If you have questions about seed, birds, or bird activities call 435 673-0996.

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