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Everything you need to know about: Niger Seed

July 7, 2015

Nyger seed, or 'nyjer', niger', as well as other variants, as you are probably aware, does not have a standard spelling format. Or, at least, there's no universal agreement on how this enigmatic and linguistically unique word ought to be standardised.

The best effort, so far as we know, was attempted by the Wild Bird Trading Industry in the USA, whose leading members took it upon themselves to trademark the term 'Nyger'; however, trademarking is one thing, whereas a standardised linguistic format is another, which generally works by a collective group (language community) recognising a format before absorbing it as a de facto spelling.

Buy a bag of niger seeds here

Guizotia abyssinica
Niger Seeds

Despite various theories that surround these varied spellings, I would argue that it has at least something to do with the spelling of the country 'Nigeria' and 'niger' as a related derivative. Interestingly, though, the niger seed was originally cultivated in the Ethiopian Highlands, although production of this seed also occurs in Nigeria.

We could settle for Guizotia abyssinica, although I don't want to spend the rest of this article using niger seed's scientific classification, and I assume you don't want to read that particular term too much as well. So, we're going to settle for 'niger seed'.

What is this niger seed business?

Niger seed is a small black seed that procudes the Guizotia flower, a pretty and dainty yellow bloom that is native to Africa. They can be bought in abundance, although niger seeds are often a little more expensive than other seed varieties due to their origin. Saying this, a good bit of advice is to combine niger seed with other seeds (a 'finch mix') for your wild backyard garden birds, providing the added benefit of supplying a more varied diet to your birds.

Niger seeds are favoured mainly by finches, as the structure of the beak is ideally suited for such as tiny seed. It would be advisible to use an appropriate niger seed feeder to capture any excess waste and unwanted spillage on your garden. Hence...

What are the best feeders to use for niger seed?

These teeny-tiny seeds can get everywhere, a bit of a nuisance really. So, it is highly recommended that you purchase the correct kind of feeder, which will stop any kind of nuisance from occurring.

What you ideally want is a feeder that can catch the discarded shells, so something like a niger feeder with a bottom tray, a mesh feeder that can be easily cleaned, or a 'finch tube'. Bear in mind that finches often travel in larger flocks and so a niger seed feeder with multiple holes would work well in a busy finch environment.

Further Niger Seed Facts

  • The seed is treated to prevent germination

  • If it dries out too much, your garden birds may not eat it

  • Niger seed can become moldy, which can be bad for birds, so check regularly and keep your feeders clean!

  • 'Nyger' was trademarked in 1998 by the WBFI

  • Niger seed contains an explosive source of energy for wild birds, which is perfect for those subdued times of the year such as winter

  • It ain't just for finches; redpolls, siskins and turtle doves also love niger seed

  • You can start your own niger seed business