Oct 31, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2014

Don't Throw Away Your Pumpkin Seeds!

When you scrape out your pumkins this fall, do the birds a favor—save the seeds and add them to your feeder offerings!
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As you scrape out pumpkin guts for a pie or jack-o'-lantern, don't throw away the seeds! Don't even compost them! Squash seeds of any sort, including pumpkins, are a high protein treat for birds.

First, wash the seeds, removing most of the pulp. If you don't intend to store the seeds, and plan to offer them all at once, just spread them out on the ground or on a platform during dry weather, so they don't rot. If you do want to store them, it's best to boil them for 10 minutes, then spread them out on a cookie sheet or two to minimize overlapping. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, turning several times, until they're slightly darker in color. Store in an airtight plastic bag or jar. Don't salt them unless you intend to eat them yourself!

Only birds with strong bills, such as cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, and titmice, can crack the hulls, but they'll relish what's inside!





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  • I am excited to have my daughter’s tree this year, since my landlord has removed the lovely yew next to my patio, which was the only shelter for birds at my feeder.
    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021