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Sunday, February 15, 2015

Killing all the bugs in your yard means saying goodbye to birds too.

In Texas, all but one species of wild bird (even those that eat seed like Cardinals) feed their newborns nothing but insects. They’re easier to digest since newborn birds don’t have fully developed digestive systems! When they leave the nest, young birds learn to find and eat seed – maybe at your birdfeeder with the help of their parents.  The exception is Finches, whose nestlings can eat seeds.

If the parents can’t find bugs to feed their newborns, they’ll
probably go elsewhere.



Avoid stale seed or birdseed mixed with other stuff  Birds will NOT eat “other stuff” but you are charged for it nonetheless. The “other stuff” tends to be twigs, plant stalks, stones, dirt and empty hulls left from the production process.  Birds don’t like stale seeds either, and will quickly fly elsewhere for a decent meal.

Short of tearing open the bag in the store, you can’t tell if seed is mixed with other stuff. But if you find it when you get home, complain to the merchant or shop elsewhere next time. From my years running a birding store I know that the middleman charges a tiny bit extra (about a penny a bag) for cleaning the seed. This charge, and the service, is usually the first to go in a price war. I’ve run across this at a nearby Tractor Supply, and a Wild Bird Unlimited in Flower Mound, so I don’t shop there.

Seed is also suspect when bought from many grocery stores and “big box” stores. It’s likely to have been sitting on store/warehouse shelves losing nutrition hourly. Stale seed is avoided by birds since it’s not nutritious anymore, and they need nutrition to survive.



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 the 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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