Niger Seeds for Birds: Bird Feeding Guide

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Although they go by several names—niger, nijer, nyjer, or nyger seeds—they are all the same.

For consistency, we will refer to these small seeds as “niger” throughout this book as we examine the plants from whence they originate and the bird species that feed on them most often. See what birds you may anticipate seeing if you install a niger seed feeder in your backyard by reading on.

Niger seeds are a popular choice for backyard feeders since many colorful bird species, such as Indigo Buntings, Redpolls, and American Goldfinches, love them. These tiny black seeds are also a favorite with Siskins and House Finches, whose thin, pointed bills perfectly fit the tiny seed size.

Niger Seed Origins and Cultivation

The source of Niger seeds is the annual Guizotia abyssinica plant, which is indigenous to Ethiopia’s highlands in northern Africa and has yellow blooms like daisies. These days, Niger, India, and Myanmar—the top exporters of niger seed for the bird feed industry worldwide—are the countries where it is extensively grown.

Temperate regions with moderate rainfall are ideal for the growth of niger seed. After gathering seed heads, seeds are washed, dried, and prepared. Tiger seeds need to be sterilized at a high temperature to stop them from sprouting or germinating before they can be exported, commercially marketed, and used as bird feed. By doing this, the risk of unintentionally introducing a plant that might endanger native species is mitigated.

An American Goldfinch – Popular among many colorful bird species, nigger seeds are a very typical item at backyard feeders.

The composition of nutrition

Rich in oils and lipids, nigger is an excellent source of nutrition for backyard birds and a great source of energy throughout the winter.

It makes sense that it would have health-promoting qualities and is sometimes referred to as an avian superfood. Tiger seeds are poor in carbohydrates, with only around 18% protein and 35% fat. However, they are high in calcium and provide almost half of a bird’s daily iron needs.

Quantity per 100 grams
515 calories, 39g fat
Potassium 0 mg, Sodium 0 mg
Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 0g, Protein: 24g
Zero vitamin A
Vitamin C: 0%
Calcium (300%)
57% iron
Bringing in Avian Species

Many kinds of backyard birds love nigger seeds, the most well-known enthusiast being the goldfinch (both American and European). Siskins, Redpolls, Nuthatches, and other colorful birds will anxiously take their time at the feeder. Chickadees and Sparrows also often eat niger seeds.

bigger-beaked birds, such as pigeons, crows, magpies, and jays, like bigger, less fussy seeds since it is just not worth their effort to crack open the small niger seed shell. Although they don’t primarily eat from feeders, they will sometimes pick up any fallen seeds.

Acrobatically clinging to niger seed feeders, goldfinches use their pointed bills to harvest the small seeds, shattering the outer shell and let it to fall to the ground while holding onto the interior kernel. Chickadees grasp the outer husk with their feet and use their beaks to pry it open, allowing them to enter.

How Niger Seeds Are Offered

The best feeders are those made especially for niger seeds; they have a small hole that makes it possible to reach the tiny seeds without having to worry about spills. A little tray is often installed beneath these hanging tube feeders to catch any leftover food from spilling to the ground below.

The smallest seeds would just spill out of the bigger apertures of mesh peanut holders or regular hanging feeders, thus purpose-built feeders are the best option. Because niger seeds are huge and unsuitable as food for most ground-feeding birds with larger beaks, it is not advisable to sprinkle them straight onto grass.

Because Goldfinches are not usually seen in forest areas, hanging niger seed feeders in relatively open settings at a height of around 1.5 m (5 ft) above ground will suit them and allow them to demonstrate their acrobatic eating methods.

since an alternative, you may want to try scattering niger seeds inside the seed heads of any teasels that grow in your garden, since these birds are widely known for loving them. This will provide the finches that are foraging with an added benefit.

It is advisable to just add a modest quantity of niger seeds to feeders until they begin to draw attention and frequent users. Niger seed has to be replenished if it dries out or comes into contact with precipitation since it deteriorates rather fast. Unused seeds may be kept fresh by storing them in a lidded, moisture-free container.

A European Goldfinch: You may want to try scattering niger seeds within the seed heads of your teasels, which are another well-known favorite of goldfinches, so that foraging birds discover an added treat.

Niger Seeds’ Advantages for Birds

Niger seeds are a wonderful source of fat, particularly in the winter when a tiny quantity would provide a significant energy boost. They are thus perfect for birds with high metabolic rates.

Tiger seeds are particularly beneficial during the molting season because of their high protein content, which aids in the regeneration of feathers.

They do not provide a choking hazard since they are very quickly absorbed.

Bird Diet Using Niger Seeds

While some birds may not be interested in niger seeds, those that are will undoubtedly appreciate having a feeder that is consistently filled near their feeding areas.

Niger seeds are a valuable source of nutrients for backyard birds throughout the year. They are helpful in all seasons, providing extra energy for raising young, protein for when plumage needs to be replaced, and a powerful calorie boost during winter months when survival may be more difficult.

Purchasing Guide

It’s crucial to open the box of niger seeds carefully when purchasing them to ensure that the seeds are fresh, clean, and free of mold or moisture.

It is advised to attempt a lower number at first until your feeders are seen and begin to draw frequent visits, rather than rushing in and purchasing an extra-large pack. Niger seeds are rapidly spoilt, and no backyard bird will be attracted to them if they are left uneaten in a feeder for many weeks.

A simple method to determine whether niger seed is fresh is to crush a little amount onto paper and see if any oily residue is left behind. If it does, the seeds may be used as feed; if they leave no oil residue, they are beyond their prime and have begun to dry up.

Suppliers of organic niger seeds are advised, as their growing without the use of chemicals or pesticides enhances the crop’s quality and health advantages. In order to prevent undesired weeds from sprouting and germination, every niger seed imported by the US and UK must be sterilized.


Why don’t birds consume the provided niger seeds?

The oil in niger seeds starts to dry up after a while, which results in the seeds losing their taste and nutritional value. Similarly, backyard birds do not like niger seeds that have become wet from exposure to rain because they might become clumpy.

Which birds consume niger seeds?

A niger seed feeder may pique the attention of many little backyard birds, but finches and sparrows are known to enjoy it the most because of its ideal size for their short, sharp bills.

Do rats and squirrels consume niger seeds?

Tiger seed feeders are avoided by squirrels and rats, perhaps because the small size of the seeds makes it inefficient for them to crack open the shell and consume the contents.

Are nigella and niger seeds interchangeable?

There is a clear difference between nigella and niger seeds, even with their similar names. While niger seeds are mostly used for feeding birds, nigella seeds, usually referred to as black cumin, are mainly used as a culinary component.

A female house sparrow – A niger seed feeder may attract a variety of tiny backyard birds, but finches and sparrows are known to enjoy it the most since it’s the ideal size for their short, sharp mouths.

Ways to Prevent Waste

It is advised to only fill feeders about halfway full until you have a consistent stream of visitors in order to prevent waste or spoiling. Niger seed deteriorates rapidly and turns into an unfit food if it dries out, becomes mushy, or gets wet.

In order to prevent spills into the ground below, the majority of specially designed niger seed feeders include a tray located underneath the feeder hole. Because they have smaller openings than standard seed feeders, which prevent too much feed from spilling out, they are advised.

Commercially available Niger in the US and the UK is either clipped or sterilized to prevent spilled seeds from causing problems when they grow on the ground under a feeder. Although niger seeds are large, they have an inedible outer husk that is thrown on the ground; nonetheless, this husk does not develop into undesired plant shoots.

Final Thoughts

Not every bird like niger seeds because of their small size, which makes them inappropriate for bigger or more rounded beaks. The most probable species to profit from its superfood qualities are sharp-billed finches, and

It is advised that all backyard suppliers clean their feeders on a regular basis and inspect them for damage. It’s likely that you’ll soon be receiving some really colorful guests to your yard if you maintain appropriate feeder cleanliness and keep a regular, fresh supply topped up!

I'm Nauman Afridi, the bird enthusiast behind My lifelong passion for birds has led me to create a space where fellow bird lovers can find valuable insights and tips on caring for our feathered friends.Professionally, I'm a brand strategist and digital marketing consultant, bringing a unique perspective to the world of bird care. Whether you're a novice or an experienced bird owner, is designed to be a welcoming community for all.Feel free to explore, and reach out if you have any questions or just want to chat about birds.
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