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William
01-17-2007, 02:15 PM
Get ready, this might be a dumb question. Has anyone ever tried stocking their bird feeders with native plant seed? If so, care to comment?

I have a few bird feeders and I fill them with commercial bird seed. My concern (unfounded?) is that I'm successfully feeding my local birds while simultaneously spreading non-native seed.

I would love to hear your thoughts.

patricklannan
01-27-2007, 05:07 PM
Most bird feeds use some combination of striped sunflower seeds, black oil sunflower seeds, sunflower chips, safflower, millet, cracked corn or perhaps peanuts. Some people also put out some niger (thistle) for finches.

Some species of cirsium (thistle) can be invasive. My understanding is that niger sold as bird feed should be sterile. We need to check labels when we buy.

I am not aware of any invasive species of Helianthus (sunflower).

Safflower (Carthamnus tinctorius -- I think. . . DOES ANYONE ELSE KNOW FOR SURE?) is not listed as an invasive species by the California Invasive Plants Council (Cal IPC). But, Carthamnus lanatus is considered invasive of coastal grasslands. I would like to read more research about the potential invasiveness of safflower.

There are a number of genera and species of millet. Most bird seeds use Proso millet (Panicum miliaceum). This is not listed as an invasive species by Cal IPC.

If you want to be on the safe side, you could select sunflower chips or cracked corn. They are not likely to germinate.

But, some bird feed can be more attractive to non-native bird species. So, that raises a whole second set of questions. And I do not know much about invasive bird species in California. DOES ANYONE ELSE?

carolynmartus
02-01-2007, 10:24 AM
you can buy seed that is s'posed to be sterile. I've also heard that if you bake your seed in the oven (but i don't know for how long or at what temp) it makes it unviable. I heard that from a master gardener so ask your local master gardener. I don't know of any invasive species that got its start from backyard feeders so you're probly okay......

William
02-22-2007, 05:49 PM
Thank you for your information. I feel a whole lot better.