Jan 15, 2015 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, February 2015

How Much Seed in a Pound of Seed?

Bird seed is the hamburger of the bird-feeding world. The picture above shows Nyjer/Thistle seed, peanuts, millet, and cracked corn.
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Hulled sunflower seed (which means "without hulls") is often sold as sunflower chips, sunflower hearts, or no-mess sunflower seeds. It is very convenient, and attracts a wide variety of species to your feeder, but is pricy compared with black-oil sunflower seeds in the shell.

Or is it?

An apples-to-apples comparison of the price of a T-bone steak to a filet requires you to discount the weight of the bone and consider only the cost of the meat. Blackoil sunflower seed is 35 to 45 percent hull—inedible to birds. That means when you buy a 50-pound bag of it, you're buying roughly 30 pounds of bird food and 20 pounds of waste. Consider that next time you're shopping for birdseed. A fair comparison would be a 50 pound bag of standard sunflower seeds to a 30 pound bag of sunflower hearts. Odds are, hulled sunflower seeds will still be more expensive than in-the-shell seeds. But you won't have a mess to clean up under your feeders. What's that worth to you?

Also consider that safflower seed, while typically much more expensive than sunflower, has a smaller hull, so less of its weight is waste. Squirrels and starlings don't like safflower seed, so if mammalian marauders or birds you don't like are eating you out of house, home, and black-oil sunflower seeds, consider a switch to safflower. A gradual switch, mixing the two seeds, is recommended.

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