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We have a bird feeder station tucked into the corner of one of our beds. I fill this with peanuts, fat balls and BIRD SEED. In the surrounding area underneath a type of grass has started growing in the bed. I assumed it was dreaded couch grass but this is very different, growing from a kind of kernel. I mentioned it to someone else who said the same thing had happened in their garden forcing them to move their feeder onto the lawn. Has anyone else noticed the same thing associated to bird seed?
Yes and it could be a kind of crop. We have had many seeds germinate including Niger seed, wheat, barley and sunflowers. The wheat and barley look more grass-like initially. I know that I get it most when I leave the feeder in one place. It helps to move the feeders periodically in any case to help prevent diseases that can affect the birds and/or encourage vermin.

Certainly can !  I have loads of things growing underneath my bird feeders.

A devil to keep clean and constantly have to get rid of it all !



If you microwave your bird seed for a minute or two it can remove its power to germinate yet leave it good for the birds.    I have a large stone slab under my fat ball feeders to catch seeds that drop and I also scatter loose seed on it for ground feeders.  It's easy enough to weed round its edges once in a while.


I've got a resident clever blackbird wo watches for the blue tits feeding at the fat balls and sits underneath on the lawn catching anything that falls down. It's as if they have come to an understanding!


Shrinking Violet

Obelixx - what a brilliant idea.  I would never have thought of that, but will adopt it from now on.  I have loads of random seedlings under the bird feeder, and it is a nuisance.  But I put up with it when, on a day like today, I had 6 siskins, 4 goldfinches on the feeder at one time.  But I haven't seen as many blue or great tits this year

Gary Hobson

I also have some large stone slabs directly beneath my bird feeder.

The original reason why I put the slabs there was because the 'grass' beneath a bird feeder gets churned up, and muddied, mainly by other birds pecking at the bits that drop from the feeder. One way or another it becomes a real mess.

The slabs also catch the debris, which does need to be cleared off regularly. Otherwise it develops into a mat, and then into a bed of nyjer seedlings, or whatever.

I also use that as an area to spread other food, that ground feeding birds prefer.


Some time ago it was suggested to me, and approved of by the RSPB who should know a thing or two about birds, that microwaving the bird seed for a couple of minutes on high power, then allowing it to cool it before it goes into the feeder, stops the seed germinationg.  it does work.  It seems that it makes no difference to the nutritional value for the birds.  


I reused to let the OH put bird feeder in border. It's in the lawn where it can be mowed and strimmed.

Thanks for your advice - am definitely going to try the microwave trick. Plus, on the positive side be a)happy it's this type of grass and not couch grass and b) glad Ian not mad for imagining there is link between the two!
Green Magpie

Has anyone else had this problem with a niger (nyjer) feeder? I've got one of these which attracts the occasional goldfinch, and is also popular with greenfinches. But somehow a lot of the seed ends up on the ground beneath the feeder - I've just cleared up a thick layer of the stuff.  They don't eat it once it's landed, and it doesn't seem to grow either, but I hate the waste as this seed is not cheap. I really don't know how they manage to drop so much. I have seen feeders that incorporate a tray underneath - presumably this would have to have drainage holes to avoid a soggy mess. But it seems a shame to abandon the feeder I've got which is quite a well-made and solid one. Any ideas as to why this happens and what I can do about it?

Shrinking Violet

Yes, that happens with my feeder, too, and that does have a tray underneath.  It catches quite a lot of the seed, but much more falls to the ground and it does germinate and have to be weeded regularly.

I don't know if the seed could be re-used as it were, and it is an expensive waste.  However, on the plus side, at this moment I'm looking at three siskins and two goldfinches eating happily.

Gary Hobson
Green Magpie wrote (see)

Has anyone else had this problem with a niger (nyjer) feeder? ... somehow a lot of the seed ends up on the ground ... I hate the waste as this seed is not cheap...

Shrinking Violet wrote (see)

... my feeder... does have a tray underneath. ...I don't know if the seed could be re-used as it were, and it is an expensive waste. ...

Just before Christmas I was in Pets at Home and noticed they were selling feeders specifically designed for Niger seed. Instead of the normal large round portholes, niger feeders have tiny narrow vertical slits. It's supposed to reduce the waste...

This is the feeder tray after a week's use...

It certainly has at least halved the amount of seed I'm using, and it's also collected a lot of 'rejected' seed.

I'm not sure why all that seed is apparently rejected and normally falls to the ground. Anyway, I've just scooped that up out of the tray, and used it to completely fill another spare porthole feeder.


Beautiful photos Friar, I especially love the chaffinch (I think) and the stieglitz, but what is the other one with the black cap, have never seen one of those here in Switzerland? I have seeds dropping from my feeders as well, but we have dozens of sparrows here and they gobble everything up!


I recently got a Nyger seed feeder with a tray as the lawn underneath was getting spongy with discarded seed and all of it grows even though it is supposed to be made sterile by the suppliers. I have found that a lot of the seed left in the tray is subsequently eaten by the gold finches and even collared doves.


I've a new feeder which seems to spill half the contents on the ground it wasn't a cheap one either, I'm thinking a tray could be fitted underneath, not sure how, seems a shame not to be able to use it though.

Read some where, seeds can be sterilized in the micro wave to prevent them from germinating.

Gary Hobson

The birds eating in those photos are goldfinches, and bullfinches. The larger bird with the pinky-red breast is a male bullfinch.

Friar Francesco Colonna wrote (see)

The tray simply screws into a socket in the base of the feeder. I have some other feeders, and they have sockets beneath them, but their sockets are not compatible with the screw thread on that tray. I bought that combination from Pets at Home.

As I explained, I put the 'rejected' seed into another feeder, anticipating that that might be eaten, and not wasted. What has happened this morning is that 4 birds are around the new feeder eating the fresh seed, and the the old porthole feeder, which is full of 'rejected' seed, is being ignored.

It occured to me that the 'rejected' seed might simply be husks. You can get a lot of mess with the husks of some sunflower seed. That does seem to be the case for niger too. The stuff being discarded by the birds is probably not seed (although the odd seed may be there). This seed supplier explains this:

So the tray doesn't actually save any food. And if you let the stuff fall to the ground you are not actually wasting anything.

I use no mess bird feed, but apart from not sprouting it still causes a mess from all the discarded seed. I tried putting trays underneath the feeders, but all that happens now is that they fill up, and then when it rains, I get seed porridge.

When I started feeding birds I had a rather suspicious looking plant appear in my garden near the bird feeder. Somebody suggested it was just hemp. I thought it was something different and so did my nurse friend. After several weeks of summer growing I decided not to risk it anymore and pulled it up and discarded it in the green wheelie bin.

1st photo: male Bullfinch (left), Goldfinch

2nd photo: Goldfinch (left) with a Redpoll behind it, female Bullfinch

3rd photo: male Bullfinch (left), Goldfinch