What are these seeds, that I’ve been calling thistle seed, since I was a child? These seeds that Goldfinches, Chickadees, Tufted Titmice and White-throated Sparrows seem to go bonkers over?
What a surprise I had, when I looked up thistle seed on the internet. Seems thistle seed is not thistle seed at all, but the seed of a yellow flower, Guizotia abyssinica, which is cultivated for its seeds in Africa, India and other areas of southeast Asia. A native of the highlands of Ethiopia, and the only major wild bird feed seed imported to North America from overseas.
This tiny black seed is sold here in the U.S. as Nyjer seed, a registered trademark of the Wild Bird Feeding Industry. It amazes me that the tiny songbirds that come to my feeders, take each tiny seed to a nearby branch and carefully remove the hull, to eat the little bit of nut meat, which is packed with 40 percent oil, which is the attractant.
In all seasons, Goldfinches arrive to dine on the Nyjer seeds.
Another bird that can’t resist the temptation of Nyjer seed, is the White-Throated Sparrow.
There are other birds that are attracted to Nyjer seed, but I’ll close with this last little guy. A Tufted Titmouse. These four bird species, Chickadees, Goldfinches, White-throated Sparrows, and Tufted Titmice are the ones that I know I’ll see every single day at my feeder of tiny black seeds, that are not thistle seed.