Thursday, December 15, 2022

Does bird seed go bad?

Are birds not eating the seeds at your feeder? Did birds stop coming to your feeder? Or are you having trouble getting birds to come to a feeder? You may wonder if the seed is bad. Yes, this can be a problem.

This article answers the questions:

How long does bird seed remain fresh?

How can you tell if bird seed has gone bad?

How can you make bird seed last longer?

How long until bird seed goes bad?

Bird seed has a store shelf life of 6 months to 2 years, depending upon type of seed. But once you get home and open it, bird seed can go bad in a few weeks or last up to 6 months.

Manufacturers often put an expiration date of 2 years on bird seed. If kept in cool, dry conditions, some bird seed may still be nutritious that long. But bird seed 12 months old is probably starting to get stale. (Reference)

Black oil sunflower seed has a shelf life of about 6-12 months.

Because Niger seed (Nyjer trademark) is sterilized with heat to kill it and keep it from sprouting, it only stays fresh 3-6 months.

That said, the quality and freshness of bird seed in the store varies. If birds aren't coming to your feeder, buying fresh seed is a quick way to see if stale seed is the problem or not. Birds should find a newly stocked feeder in a few days.

Photo of bird seed
Photo by ivabalk from Pixabay.

How to tell if bird seed is bad

Are birds coming to your feeder but not eating the seed? It's bad.

At your feeder, all seed should be eaten in 2-3 days. If not, replace it. Don't just add more. Throw out the old and add new.

If the seed in your feeder got wet, then remove any clumps of damp bird seed and clean the feeder. In many places winter weather can be damp and rainy continuously. It takes vigilance to keep your feeder clean and seed dry. The seed is fine for birds for a few days following rainy weather. But clean out the feeder when you can--at least once weekly.

If you have stored last season's bird seed at home, it may also be bad. If birds aren't eating it, then it needs to be replaced with fresh seed.

Old seed can dry out and lose nutritional value and taste. Crack open some seeds of black oil sunflowers. Squeeze the meaty kernel between your fingers. It should be a bit oily when crushed.

Bird seed can absorb moisture or have gotten wet with rain and snow. If the bird seed feels damp or clumps, it has been wet and probably should be thrown out.

Smell the seed. If it smells musty or sour it may be rancid. The seed is bad.

Look for fuzzy strands of mold, mildew, and fungus. Do the seeds feel slimy? These are all signs that the seed is bad. Don't feed it to the birds! Especially look for this in seed stuck in the bottom cracks of the feeder. Clean and wash the feeder (warm soapy water or even diluted bleach) or it will quickly spread to any new seed you add. Maybe swap feeders with a clean one until you can get to the old one.

Are any of the seeds sprouting? They got wet and are now not nutritious.

Do you see live or dead insects, caterpillars or moths in the seed? It is time to buy fresh seed. This can even happen with new seed that you buy.

How to make bird seed last longer and not go bad

After you purchase bird seed, transfer it to a strong plastic or metal container with air-tight seal. The goal is to keep out insects, rodents, and moisture.

Store the container indoors, in a cool, dry location. If you store it outside where it may get damp and warm, it won't last as long. That's all right if you are going through it and replacing it regularly. Just remember that bird seed stored outside will go bad sooner.

Use your older seed first. As long as the birds are still eating it, use up the old seed before opening new. That way you don't have any really old seed you are feeding to the birds.

I recently purchased this beautiful tube feeder and fill it with black oil sunflower seeds. This combination really attracts the finches and reduces the number of house sparrows.

My birds really love Wagner's Songbird Supreme mixed bird seed. It's 50% black oil sunflower seed. There's no filler seed in here that birds won't eat--they love it all!

You may like these related posts:

25 Reasons Birds Aren't Coming to Your Feeder

Tips to QUICKLY Attract Birds to Your Feeder

How Do Birds Know When You Fill the Feeder?

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