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Summer Feeding Guide

Niger Seed: What You Need To Know

June 14, 2019

What is Niger Seed?

Niger seed (often called Nyger Seed or Nyjer Seed) is a small black seed from the Guizotia flower, a pretty and dainty yellow bloom that is native to Africa. Combine Niger Seed with other seeds to provide your birds with a more varied diet. It’s perfect for treating the small birds in your area and is particularly loved by goldfinches.

You might see Niger Seed referred to as 'Thistle Seed', but they're actually two different seeds. It is thought that this misconception came about because the seeds look similar and goldfinches love both Niger Seed and Thistle Seed!

A little known fact is that Niger Seeds actually have shells, so if you what looks like seed on the ground, it's not your birds throwing them away. It's actually the shells (husks) of the seeds!

Why Feed Niger Seed?

Birds love Niger seed, it’s a firm favourite amongst many varieties of garden bird.  If you aren’t already feeding it to your garden birds, we recommend giving it a try.

How To Feed Niger Seed

Niger Seed is a fraction of the size of sunflower hearts, but together they provide a great combo mix to ensure some of our favourite feathered friends remain well nourished. Because of its small size, most seed feeders aren’t suitable, as the seed will just fall out of the holes.  We recommend purchasing a pre-filled Niger Seed feeder to start off with so your birds can get used to it.  Or consider purchasing a purpose-built Niger Seed feeder.

What Birds Eat Niger Seed?

Most birds will eat Niger Seed, however some favour it more than others.  One of the most common birds that loves Niger Seed is the Goldfinch, as the structure of the beak is ideally suited for such as tiny seed. However, you’ll also see Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls and other small birds feeding.

How Do I Attract More Birds?

Niger Seed can be a great seed to put out for the smaller birds – especially goldfinches, but you will probably want to put out different seeds alongside it to really see the benefit.  As soon as you introduce sunflower seeds, or black sunflower seeds, you’ll start to see your birds going back and forth between your feeders as they enjoy the different seeds.

Keep The Birds Coming Back

Birds can be quite fussy about Niger Seed and they don’t like it when the seed dries out, or if it’s left out in the feeders for too long.  Generally, you’ll want to replace any uneaten seed that’s more than 4 weeks old.

To see if it’s something that would work well in your garden, we recommend buying a prefilled feeder to begin with. Or if you want to go all in and buy a bag of seed and a feeder, we recommend only putting out a small amount (roughly a third of your feeders capacity depending on its size) so they can get used to it.  You can always store the rest and put it out as the birds get used to it.

Another trick is to make sure you're giving the birds an opportunity to keep clean. The easiest way to do this is to add a bird bath to your garden, or a bird station with an in-built bird bath.  You can find out more about bird hygiene on our blog.

Featured Products

These products are a great way to start feeding Niger Seed and will complement your garden perfectly.

Niger Seed

Save when you buy Niger Seed from us. Buy in bulk and save even more.

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Prefilled Niger

It's easy to start encouraging Goldfinches and other small birds into your garden.

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Niger Seed

See our range of durable, excellent quality bird feeders. Multi-seed feeders also stocked.

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The perfect complement when you feed Niger Seed alongside Sunflower Seeds.

Sunflower Hearts For Wild Birds

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Bird Food

Keep your bird seed fresh and away from moisture with our range of storage.

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Bird Feeding

Expand your hanging space with a simple, elegant feeding station.

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Bird Feeding

Add more hanging space to your existing bird feeding station or pole.

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Encourage your birds to stay longer with a bird bath to promote good hygiene.

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Other Useful Articles

We've written a whole host of content around the subject of Goldfinches, bird feeders, what to feed (and when) and more. You can find some of these posts below, or search our site for more.



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  1. I have just introduced Niger seeds into my garden.Within 24hours , I now have 5 lovely colourful Goldfinches feeding on them.

  2. I have put Niger seed out for my little birds. The seed is in a big container since last year, I washed the containers and although there r plenty of birds around the are not coming to my bird table. Any answers .