What Is Nyjer Seed?

What Is Nyjer Seed
1. Nyjer Seed Is Not Thistle Seed – The scientific term for Nyjer seed and oil is Guizotia abyssinica. This seed also goes by the names niger and nyger. It is grown in India and is thought to have originated in Ethiopia, Eritrea, and Malawi. The Wild Bird Feeding Institute is the registered owner of the trademark for the term Nyjer®.

  1. According to this Institute, the trademark is intended to minimize product misunderstanding and the insulting mispronunciation of Niger, as well as establish a favorable image for the usage of Guizotia abyssinica as a wild bird feed.
  2. People frequently confuse Nyjer seed with thistle seed, yet they are completely distinct.

Nyjer originates from a sunflower-related plant, and it resembles a sunflower seed in appearance, although it is somewhat smaller.

Is Nyjer identical to thistle?

Are Nyjer seed and thistle seed the same? – Over the years, bird experts have received numerous calls and comments from individuals claiming that their neighbor’s “thistle” feeder has introduced the thorny shrub into their yard. Every time I get these concerns, I have the opportunity to avert a possible conflict by revealing.

The seed of the Nyjer plant is NOT thistle. The Nyjer seed is not generated from either a native or non-native thistle species, but rather from a sunflower-related plant. The seed resembles a sunflower seed but is considerably more diminutive. African yellow daisy is a popular name for the plant from which niger seeds are generated.

The Nyjer plant is known by its scientific name, Guizotia abyssinica, in Latin. The Guizotia niger seed yields an edible oil, and the seed itself is consumed around the globe. Due of its appeal among birdwatchers, Nyjer seed is now cultivated commercially in the United States.

The Minnesota Ornithologists’ Union Paper Session was held last Saturday (a boring term for annual gathering). John and Lisa Loegering gave a lecture on their efforts to cultivate Nyjer in North America. Let’s start with the fundamentals of this seed, in the event that someone reading this does not know about the little seed for finches.

  • The image seen above is of Nyjer, commonly known as Niger and Thistle.
  • The majority of the goldfinch food available at local feed stores originates in Singapore, Burma (I recall seeing this place regularly when I purchased 50-pound bags at the bird store I ran), Ethiopia, and Myanmar.
  • This is not a North American-grown seed.
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It has no relationship to the poisonous weed thistle. Its original name was Niger, but it was often mispronounced as a racial slur. Numerous merchants referred to it as thistle. Since it was mistakenly believed by some to be seeds of the noxious weed thistle, some localities attempted to outlaw its sale.

  • The Wild Bird Feeding Industry has advocated for the name to be spelled phonetically, as Nyjer.
  • Yet confused? Essentially, at bird supply stores, Nyjer = Niger = Thistle is the same seed.
  • It is one of the most costly seeds since it is not cultivated in North America, which is one of the reasons it is so little.

According to the Loegerings, attempts to cultivate Nyjer in North America have been undertaken. Even a Niger Growers Group was established. By 2002, a plant had been created and its seeds produced, but no bird would eat them. The organization approached the Loegerings and requested them to determine why the seeds were unpalatable to birds.

  1. They established 15 distinct feeding stations, with North American Nyjer in one and Ethiopian Nyjer in another.
  2. They measured the amount of seed placed in the feeder, the amount of seed consumed by the birds, the species of birds, and the makeup of the flock.
  3. Goldfinches and redpolls were the most prevalent visitors to the feeding stations.

If the birds had an option, they would consume more Ethiopian Nyjer than North American Nyjer. Loegering questioned what had changed. Ethiopian Nyjer is intended to be treated with heat to prevent it from sprouting in North American soil (we all know how successful that is.not).

Therefore, he obtained the precise instructions for the procedure, heat-treated the North American Nyjer, and repeated the experiment. The finches consumed both varieties of Nyjer at the same rate this time. Why would they prefer the seed that has been heated? Does the heat remove sufficient moisture to make the shell more brittle? Does it make for a better taste seed? Does it differ in the ultraviolet color spectrum? We cannot say.

Now, this does not imply that locally grown Nyjer will be available soon. Since then, the Nyjer Growers Group has disintegrated. In part, this is due to the lack of farm equipment capable of separating the small seeds from the chaff. Consider this while you are pouring Nyjer into your feeder, as this is a seed that has been collected by hand.

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It makes you question how old the harvesters are and whether they are given a reasonable salary for gathering that bird seed. Between this and tariffs, it is easy to see why this stream is so costly to provide. When corn prices skyrocketed due to ethanol speculation, many farmers abandoned efforts to cultivate bird food such as Nyjer and sunflower (expensive to protect from the same animals for whom it is intended) in favor of planting maize.

They also handed up a portion of their CRP land, so birds received a terrible deal from ethanol because no bird can survive in a cornfield. Now, some remarks from one of my website’s sponsors: Hey! While we’re discussing Nyjer and finches, you may need one; Birdchick’s OpenSky Store carries them.

What types of birds consume niger seed?

Nyjer seed is a favorite of goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, and other seed-eating birds with short bills. It has also been observed being consumed by nuthatches, chickadees, doves, Downy Woodpeckers, and other tiny birds. And an added benefit of feeding nyjer seed? Typically, squirrels disregard it!

Ensure that a feeder that is built exclusively for nyjer seed is utilized. The small pores in a nyjer seed feeder allow finches to extract a single seed at a time. Any other sort of feeder will have too-large seed openings, allowing the wind to blow the seed away.

Why do birds not visit my feeder?

5. Finches Require Clean Feeders – Finches dislike filthy feeders and will avoid a moldy or otherwise unclean feeder. When it rains, seed can also get clumpy, preventing birds from removing seed from the feeder. The addition of a weather guard to your bird feeder will prevent the seeds from becoming wet and clumping.
Nyjer seed is a favorite of goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Common Redpolls, and other seed-eating birds with short bills. It has also been observed being consumed by nuthatches, chickadees, doves, Downy Woodpeckers, and other tiny birds.

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Finches consume the entire thistle seed.

Remember that birds do not consume the entire seed; they simply consume the “flesh” within. The majority of the black on the ground is composed of empty shells. Because thistle tends to be more expensive than most other seeds, people dislike wasting it.