Feb 5, 2020 | Featured Web Article

How Much Seed in a Pound of Seed?

When you buy a 50-pound bag of black-oil sunflower seeds, you're buying roughly 30-pounds of bird food and 20 pounds of waste. Consider that next time you're shopping for birdseed.
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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 it is pricy compared with black-oil sunflower seeds in the shell.

Or is it?

Sunflower hearts.

An apples-to-apples comparison of the price of a T-bone steak to a fillet requires you to discount the weight of the bone and consider only the cost of the meat. Black-oil 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 standard, in-the-shell seeds. But you won't have a mess to clean up under your feeders. What's that worth to you?

Indigo bunting at a safflower feeder.

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 aren't fond of 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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  • That doesn't address my concern about the bird houses. I'm on a tiny piece of property (40x100) so there's not much room to plant a heck of a lot or places birds could put nests once the bird houses are gone.
    by Linda DiPierro, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • Plant some native plants in your yard that will attract pollinators and produce berries and nuts. There should be a local society that has a list of recommended plants, shrubs, and trees.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • Same concerns here. See above post. For your situation I would consider planting a few native plants that will naturally produce berries and seeds that the birds in your area need to survive. Try planting some that will yield foods for all seasons.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • I've thought about this myself. One thing I considered doing is leaving behind some bird food and a gift card to my local wild bird store with a note asking the new homeowners to please continue feeding the birds. Don't know how well that work but it's worth a try.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • thanks for the article. I believe that I may have spotted my first hairy woodpecker this morning. we see the downy woodpecker often. it's small. the hairy woodpecker, when compared with the downy, is HUGE. also, the downy feeds at the feeder like most birds--standing upright. This bird, because of its size, hung from the feeder perch with most of it's body below the feeder--like the red belly woodpeckers that we see often. we live is strasburg va. is it possible that we saw a hairy woodpecker this morning?
    by PEretired, Sat, 23 May 2020