There are many no-waste bird foods that can make feeding the birds easy and convenient without the mess. How To Stop Weeds Caused By Bird Seed For a few weeks now I have been watching the birds at the feeders, coming and going without a care in the world. The thing is, this bird feeding hobby is When wild birds land on your bird feeders and start eating, they drop seeds to the ground. These seeds can grow into different plants, including weeds. Here are some methods you can take to stop birdseed weeds from happening.
No Waste Bird Foods
Melissa Mayntz is a bird expert, certified Master Naturalist, writer, and author with over three decades of experience. She’s published in several national magazines, including National Wildlife Magazine, Bird Watcher’s Digest, and WildBird Magazine. Melissa has studied hundreds of bird species around the world, traveling to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the central Pacific, the Middle East, and more on birding expeditions.
theilr / Flick / CC by-SA 2.0
Feeding birds can be an enjoyable hobby, but it can also be a messy one as layers of hulls and discarded seeds accumulate under feeders, on decks, and across patios. By choosing no waste bird foods, however, that mess can be avoided and the birds will enjoy every morsel of available food.
What Makes Bird Feeding Messy
Birds are naturally messy eaters, and feeding birds for a long time can lead to dirty feeders and messy ground beneath those feeders. Unappetizing seeds will be kicked out and discarded, and birds drop hulls as they feed. Discarded seed can mold and rot, or it may sprout beneath the bird feeder, leading to undesirable weeds or damaging turf. A messy feeding area can attract pests and may result in fines or other sanctions in HOA communities. Birders who choose no waste bird foods will avoid many of these problems while giving their birds the best, most nutritious foods.
Types of No Waste Bird Foods
No-waste bird food is a type of food that birds completely consume, with no leftover hulls or uneaten pieces. There are natural no waste foods, such as floral nectar, insects, small berries, small nuts, and crabapples that birds can swallow whole. Offering these natural foods is the ideal way to keep feeding areas clean and to economize a bird feeding budget.
For supplemental bird feeders, there is a wide variety of no waste, no mess options, including:
hearts or chips (check ingredients to be sure there are no hulls in the blend)
- Hulled millet
- Shelled peanuts or orange marmalade (use only sparingly as rare “treats”)
These foods can be purchased individually or in specialized no waste or no mess seed blends, often with different compositions designed to attract different types of birds. While these no waste blends are more expensive than traditional birdseed, they can be a more economical option overall because birders are not paying for the weight of hulls or filler seeds birds will not eat.
Benefits of No Waste Foods
The most obvious benefit of no waste bird foods is that the birds are able to eat the entire quantity of food. This can mean feeders need less frequent refilling, and cleaning the feeders is easier because there is no need to remove unwanted debris. Because no waste birdseed has no hulls, the seeds are also unable to sprout and there will be no unintentional weeds or damage under the feeders. With less seed spilled to the ground, fewer feeder pests such as mice, rats, raccoons, squirrels, deer, and other animals will be attracted to the area.
Tips for Feeding No Waste Foods
Because no waste birdseed and other foods are typically more expensive than basic seed blends, it is important to feed them as economically as possible and to care for the seed so it is not wasted in other ways.
so it will stay fresh and dry as long as possible, free from rodent or insect infestations. Storing birdseed in a freezer or refrigerator can ensure it stays fresh and is not contaminated by pests.
- Use no waste birdseed on decks, balconies, patios, or other areas where mess is undesirable, but use less expensive seed elsewhere to lower the bird feeding budget and offer more feeding options for more birds.
- Use platforms under feeders so any unintentional waste is minimized and larger birds can feed from the platform to clean up spillage. This will also create extra feeding space to accommodate flocks. with suitable placement and covers, since hulled seeds will spoil more quickly when wet. On rainy days, consider leaving feeders empty to avoid mildewed or damp seed.
- Buy different no waste seeds and foods in bulk and create customized seed mixes rather than paying for expensive manufactured blends. This ensures the seeds offered are perfect for exactly the backyard birds that visit.
No mess bird seed and other no waste bird foods are ideal choices for feeding birds and eliminating much of the mess that comes with bird feeding. By choosing these high-quality, desirable foods, birders can attract a wide range of birds to their feeders without needing to clean up after them.
How To Stop Weeds Caused By Bird Seed
For a few weeks now I have been watching the birds at the feeders, coming and going without a care in the world. The thing is, this bird feeding hobby is starting to have an impact on my lawn, causing seed mess, bird mess and now – weeds. I didn’t want to remove the feeders but I did want to find out if there is a way of stopping the weeds caused by bird seed. Maybe I was using the wrong type of bird seed – is there a bird seed that doesn’t cause weeds?
Firstly, I want to say this – ‘if you use seed, expect weed’. Seeds are a naturally occurring thing in this world that are designed to germinate and grow into something, if conditions allow. From non germinating seed and catch trays to so called ‘no mess’ seed mix and using the correct feeder – there are ways of avoiding weed growth and other mess around your bird feeders. Here is what I have learnt.
How To Stop Bird Seed Causing Weeds
I’m going to walk you through a few steps you can take that will help to prevent, or at least reduce the weeds associated with bird feeding. If you have bird seed causing weeds in your garden and you want to stop that from happening, the first thing I recommend you do is change the seed you are using.
I use a lot of niger seed as the Gold Finches I that visit love it. The good news is that niger seed is sterile, meaning it won’t germinate (see below). Maybe even use something other than seed; meal worms, fat balls or suet balls can provide nutrients and energy without the mess.
This could be something that you are not keen on doing for the simple reason that the seed you currently use gets good results. If this is the case you may want to decide whether the bird activity you get at your feeder is worth the inconvenience of a few weeds. It can be a bit of a trade-off unfortunately but let’s look at how seed choice can help.
Bird Seed That Doesn’t Cause Weeds
If you are happy to change the type of bird seed you are using in your feeders, you should look for a seed that will not germinate. For those who have forgotten their school biology lessons…
Germination is the sprouting of a seed after it has been planted, having remained dormant for a period of time. Most bird seed will be packaged, kept in storage then sold. We then store it before putting it out.
Even after all this time a seed from a bird feeding mix can still find its way to the soil and begin the process of germination. This is when you start to see the shoots of a new plant coming up.
The types of bird seed to buy, if you want to stop weeds forming, are the ones that contain seeds that are already split or chopped in some way. Hulled sunflower hearts or chips can be a good choice, depending on which birds you are feeding. Tits, Finches, Blackbirds and Robin all like sunflower hearts. Obviously, hulled and chopped seeds will remove the seed’s ability to germinate.
Avoid seed mix with excessive filler. Many commercially produced bird seed mixes contain high levels of filler, such as Milo and Millet. These are the seeds that often get added to seed mix to fill it out. They are less expensive and bulkier than the other seed but are also less appealing to wild birds.
Out of the two, millet is more likely to be eaten but mainly by ground feeding birds like Pigeon, Doves and larger rural birds. Milo is less likely to be eaten and will be pushed aside or kicked to the ground. Remember, seed that falls to the ground can germinate and cause weeds.
Instead, go for a ‘no mess’ type of bird seed mix. The seed contained in this type of product will contain few or no husk. In other words, there is nothing for a bird to dislike and nothing they will feel the need to drop on the ground so they can get to the good stuff. As a result of using this type of feed, you will have less wastage, less chance of seeds on the ground settling and happier birds. Why Do Birds Throw Seed Out Of The Feeder?
Cheap Bird Seed Is A Waste Of Time And Money
I have fallen foul (excuse the pun) of cheap bird seed in the past and I can say without doubt that if you use a cheap bird seed mix the birds will know and they will avoid it. Before we had to lose our blossom tree in the front garden I had a feeder right next to it. I used some mixed seed my neighbour had given me and started to see some good results.
When the good quality seed ran out I picked up some cheap mix from a well known budget store. I saw their products and was immediately taken with how cheap everything was compared to farm shops or online suppliers. Within a day or so of using the cheap stuff no birds came to the feeder.
Later that week I went out and bought some bird seed from our local equine supplier, where we also bought our dog food. For not much more money I bought two big bags of niger seed and mixed seed. The same day I put the new seed in the feeder, the birds came back. It’s almost as if they sit and watch us as much as we watch them!
Another way of stopping bird seed from turning into weeds is to source bird seed that has been baked prior to packaging. Some manufacturers provide baked bird seed but I have not been able to find an example for you online so far. Please do let me know if you can find any.
It is not completely recommended by the leading bird organisations that you bake your bird seed. The reason is that the process could change the nutritional value of the seed. If you read any popular birding forums you will find people who have done this and say it has worked for them.
So, how long do you bake bird seed to keep it from germinating? Depending on your appliance, anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes. I have found two sets of instructions from reputable sources and apparently it does work. So, if you want to give it a go here is what to do:
In a conventional oven, lay the seed out on a flat baking tray. Bake for 10 minutes at 140 degrees.
Microwave your bird seed in a suitable container on high for 2 minutes.
** DO THIS AT YOUR OWN RISK **
I have no scientific knowledge of what baking or microwaving bird seed may actually do and I am in no way responsible for your actions if you choose to try this and something goes wrong.
How To Keep Bird Seed From Falling On The Ground
If you are still struggling with seed falling around your bird feeders you may need to use other methods to prevent the seed from falling. If the seed in your feeder is being dropped by birds, it is likely to be for a few reasons.
A common cause for spilled bird seed is that the feeder used is not the correct type for the seed you use. A feeder with large ports at the bottom is not going to suitable for smaller seed, like niger. The one I use at the moment is an older one with larger holes but I need to get a hanging feeder with small slits instead. Working Out Which Type Of Bird Feeder To Use.
Filler or Husk
As I wrote previously, the amount of other stuff in a seed mix could be a factor. Filler gets ignored and thrown away by birds and ends up on the ground. Even if there is no filler, you will find that certain seeds will be split open by birds to get to the tasty treat inside; black sunflower seeds are an example. Just like us at Christmas, when we crack the shell of a wall nut to get to the edible part, a bird must do the same. The outer shell is discarded and falls to the ground. This will either become a mess of shells you will need to clear away, or shells with bits of seed that can still develop into a weed.
Too Much Seed
One thing that people tend to do (me too, if I’m honest) is put out too much seed in the first place. By overfilling our feeders we encourage seed to fall all over the place. Also, birds could become complacent as to how much food is readily available and not be as careful not to spill any.
Using A Seed Catcher Under The Bird Feeder
As well as making some changes to your feeding techniques, there is one great way of stopping bird seed from falling to the ground – a seed tray. A seed tray is best used with a bird feeder pole, as they normally have a small hole in the centre, allowing you to slide them on to the pole under the feeders. In fact, there are often specific ones made to fit certain poles.
What Size Seed Tray Do I Need?
Seed trays come in various sizes from small ‘side plate’ size up to 30 cm or more. The key thing is that a seed tray must be wide enough in diameter (they are usually round) to catch seed falling from anything above. So, the seed tray you choose will depend on your feeder arrangement.
Some of my feeders are hung from a pole. At the top of the pole are two curved hooks that protrude outwards about 9″. This means that if I want to catch all the falling seed from both feeders I need a tray of at least 18″ – that’s quite a large tray!
Types Of Seed Tray
As discussed, there are seed trays that slide on to a pole, if you are using one. The pole mounted tray will need to be quite wide in diameter to catch seed from feeders that are hung up to 30 cm or so from the pole. Some pole seed trays are made to go with a manufacturer’s feeding pole with a feeder close to or at the top of the pole. These are smaller in diameter as they are mounted directly under a feeder.
Another type of seed tray is one that attaches to the base of a hanging feeder. Again, you will probably find these are purpose made as an accessory to a specific feeder. This is likely to mean feeders and accessories from such a manufacturer will be more expensive. If cost is not as important to you then I recommend going for one of these. The tray also acts as a trough that birds can perch on and feed from.
Make Your Own
This is probably one of my favourite ways to catch bird seed. OK, it might not look as pretty as the manufactured seed trays but does a bird really care? If you don’t mind how a seed tray looks, this is a fun way to do it and you can really get creative. The birds just want somewhere safe to feed with quality food, not the best presented feeder in the neighbourhood.
How To Make Your Own Bird Seed Tray
I have been looking at some DIY guides on YouTube for this and there are some really clever ways people have come up with. If you want to make your own bird seed tray or catcher, you won’t have to spend much at all, if anything. If you want to go all out on this, you can introduce counterweights and wire frames to make your tray the bee’s knees.
You will have a seed tray somewhere in the home, you just don’t know it yet. Have a look around at what you have in the garage or shed. Do you have one of those kitchen draws with all kinds of everything in it? Look there! All you really need is something that is round and lightweight for the tray and something to hang it with.
Keep It Simple
Even a paper plate will do as a tray but it will only last a short time in wet weather. Maybe opt for a shiny coated disposable plate, the kind that kids have at a party. How about an old kitchen sieve? If you don’t have one, go to a discount store like a pound shop and get a few.
Next, find some string or garden twine. This can be used to suspend the tray under a feeder. Wire, string or similar can be threaded through the tray in at least three places and tied to the feeder in some way. I say three places as this will stop the tray from tipping.
It really can be as simple as that, if you want it to be. It serves the purpose of catching seed, it protects your lawn and borders, it even adds another place for birds to feed at a crowded feeder. You can be creative and thrifty with this project, which for me gives greater satisfaction.
How Do You Remove Bird Seed From The Ground?
You are unlikely to prevent every bit of bird seed from falling under your feeder. You may get the odd weed or an accumulation of mess. Here are five ways to keep the area under your bird feeder clean.
This depends on your garden and how you manage it but using a few inches of mulch under a feeder is a good way of allowing spilled seed to decompose and disappear more discretely. From time to time, turn the mulch over to bury the seed. Refresh the mulch when required.
Rake and Vacuum
If you like to keep your garden looking good, chances are you have a garden rake. You might even have a garden vacuum/ blower too. Awesome! rake over the grass under the feeder to loosen and break up any seed. Then use your garden vac to suck it all up for the garden bin.
Relocate Feeders Each Month
It can be a good idea to move your feeders around from time to time; maybe each month. This allows any seed under a feeder to naturally decompose and the area under a feeder to recover.
If your bird feeders and their specific location are really that important to you, consider installing a hard surface under your feeders. For example, a patio slab or two, concrete, or wooden decking. These surfaces are much easier to clean and maintain than grass and garden borders.
Let Your Feeders Run Empty
WHAT?! Surely this goes against everything in the bird feeding bible, which tells us to keep them topped up, clean and accessible. It’s actually a good idea and allows birds to collect any good seed themselves, so you don’t have to. If the feeders are empty birds will look around nearby and spot any seed scattered below. You’ll probably find the ground feeders like Dunnock, Blackbirds and Pigeons will pop along to finish up here.
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Welcome To Birds Life
Hi, I’m Stuart. I live in Hampshire, UK and I am fascinated by the birds that visit my garden.
One day I decided to put up a bird feeder to see what happened. All kinds of birds now visit and my interest has turned into a hobby.
This blog is my way of researching and learning about garden birds and I want to share with you what I have learned along the way.
This site is owned and operated by me, Stuart Roberts. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. I may also participate in other affiliate programs. I am compensated for referring traffic and business to these companies.
Stop Birdseed Weeds From Happening
Using bird feeders is the most common way for people to attract different species of birds to their backyards. However, according to the Invasive Plant Science and Management study, you can face some unintended consequences.
Most birdseed mixes contain seeds that grow into troublesome weeds. Let’s discuss how to stop weeds caused by bird seeds.
How to Stop Weeds Caused by Birdseed?
When wild birds land on your bird feeders and start eating, they drop seeds to the ground. These seeds can grow into different plants, including weeds. Consider using the following methods to stop it from happening.
Use Sterilize Seeds
Sterilizing seeds refer to the practice of heating bird seeds so that they can’t sprout. Some people believe that it also affects the nutritional value of bird seeds, but no scientific evidence backs that claim.
Nyjer seed is probably the only type of seed that manufacturers do sterilize before selling. However, you can sterilize all types of seeds at your home. All you need to do is place the bag of your seeds into the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour.
You can also place your bird seeds into the microwave for about 5 to 8 minutes for the same purpose.
Buy High-Quality Birdseed Mixes
The cheaper the birdseed mix, the higher the filler seeds quantity. Therefore, it’s advisable to buy high-quality birdseed mixes that don’t contain any filler seeds that will grow into weeds.
Additionally, most birds also don’t like filler seeds and drop them to the ground. These discarded seeds are likely to sprout in your backyard.
Most wild birds like to avoid milo seeds. If they have other options available, they’ll just throw milo away on the ground. The same is the case with canary, wild buckwheat, and rapeseeds.
These are extremely cheap seeds, and manufacturers use them to sell their birdseed mixes at low prices.
Use Fresh Birdseed
Using fresh birdseeds also means that there will be fewer discarded seeds. Birds will eat most of them, allowing fewer seeds to sprout.
It’s also important to buy seeds that your birds can finish during a single season. It’s not advisable to use old seeds because they can breed mold and bacteria buildup.
Use No-Mess Seeds
You can buy birdseed mixes that come with no-waste on no-mess seeds. These mixes mostly contain nuts, dried fruits, cracked corn, peanut pieces, broken or hulled sunflower chips, hulled white millet, and sunflower seeds without hulls.
Most birds like to eat these seeds, and they also don’t sprout.
Install A Seed Catcher
Installing seed catchers under your bird feeder is another great way to stop weeds caused by bird seeds. You can buy stylish seed catchers to keep the seeds from reaching the ground.
Use the Right Feeder for Each Seed Type
Backyard birds such as nuthatches, titmice, and chickadees usually don’t eat any other food if sunflower seed is available. You can use these seeds in a tube bird feeder that comes with small ports. Birds will hammer each seed open to eat the kernel, and fewer seeds will be spilled.
Make the Ground Easy to Clean
You can make some changes to your landscape as well. You can add some flagstones or pavers under your bird feeders. It’ll prevent bird seeds from reaching the soil to sprout.
Keep Your Landscape Clean
Keeping your outdoor area clean is one of the most effective ways to stop weeds caused by bird seeds. Make a habit of cleaning spilled seeds and hulls before they can germinate.
You can also buy a high-quality outdoor vacuum cleaner to perform this task easily and quickly.
Do Bird Seeds Cause Weeds?
Yes, bird seeds can cause weeds.
According to a Cambridge study, researchers studied 98 different commercially found products, and 96 percent of them had weed seeds. Most interestingly, there were 29 different weed species used in those products.
So, most commercial birdseed mixes contain seeds that can grow into weeds, including water hemp, amaranth, wild buckwheat, foxtail, common ragweed, Kochia, and some pigweed species.x
What Kind of Plants Grow from Birdseed?
Different kinds of plants can grow from birdseeds.
The type of plants that can grow from bird seeds depends upon the seeds your birdseed mix contains. The most common are sunflower and safflower. However, most birdseed mixes contain filler seed species, including sorghum and millet, and they will grow into weeds.
How Do You Kill Birdseed Weeds?
You can kill birdseed weeds using multiple methods.
The most obvious way is to use your hand to pull the birdseed weeds out. Make sure that you wear safety equipment like gardening gloves.
You can also use old newspapers to cover birdseed weeds. It’ll keep weeds from getting sunlight, and they’ll die off. Pouring some boiling water over birdseed weeds is also an effective way to kill them.
The most effective way is to use mulch to keep bird seeds from contacting the soil. It’ll also keep the underground weed seeds from getting sunlight, and they won’t sprout.
How Do I Get Rid of Birdseed Sprouts?
You can use the heating method to get rid of birdseed sprouts.
Sterilizing birdseeds prevents them from germinating. You can place your bird seeds in an oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for about 30 minutes. You can also sterilize them in the microwave for about 5 to 8 minutes to achieve the same results.
What Birdseed Does Not Germinate?
There are multiple types of bird seeds that don’t germinate.
Sunflower chips are the most commonly used type of bird seeds that don’t germinate. They’re hulled and chopped sunflower seeds that can’t sprout.
Cracked corn is also a common birdseed type that doesn’t germinate because it’s cut down into small pieces.
Nyjer thistle is small birdseed that attracts a range of bird species. These seeds are usually heated and don’t sprout.
Bird feeding can really be a fun and calming activity as long as we protect our backyard from unwanted bird seed weed growth, and the squirrels these bird seeds attract. Wait! Squirrels?
Do not fret. Here are some ways to build a squirrel-proof bird feeder to your lawns.