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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

The importance of using FRESH seed, besides attracting more birds


Carolina Chickadee
Using fresh birdseed is just as important as planting fresh grass seed or fresh tomato seeds. Both boil down to what, and how many of them, you want to appear in your yard. (of course, feed fresh birdseed year 'round, but hold off on the grass and tomatoes). In my unscientific observations, I've seen that fresh seed is available only at specialty stores.  Seed sold at "big-box" or grocery stores almost always has been sitting on a shelf too long, and/or has seeds not appealing to north Texas birds.

   You probably wouldn’t buy grass seed left over from last year, or tomato seeds that have been sitting on a warehouse shelf for several months. They lose “viability” over time. This is especially important in cold weather, since birds need the energy and nutrition from fresh seed to stay healthy. Also, many birds who eat insects have switched to seed for the winter.

   Birdseed’s the same. It loses nutrition over time. It looks the same to you and me.  But birds (who depend on nutrition to stay alive) know the difference instantly. Almost all birdseed will retain some viability from the previous year - not 100%, but enough to attract birds. (The only seed that's not good the following year is Nyger/thistle, which has to be new each year).

   Filling feeders with fresh seed should be augmented with planting several kinds of “birdscape” plants in your yard. These are plants whose seeds are especially prized by birds. And the seeds are certainly fresh. Keep in mind that the best time to plant trees and shrubs in north Texas (unlike up north) is now.

   I’d be glad to e-mail you my list of birdscape plants that are native to north Texas.  They’re the trees, shrubs and flowers that grow naturally here. In my experience, also, our local birds look for them, and flock to them.

OWEN YOST, in addition to being a blogger, is a licensed Landscape Architect emeritus who has lived and worked in north Texas for over 30 years. He is a recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award of the Native Plant Society of Texas, and is a member of the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), International Federation of Landscape Architects, National Wildlife Federation and the Audubon Society. His office is at in Denton.


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