1 March 2011

Trial 7 VARIATION Consumed
SE MIXED Total =
SW MIXED 10½ oz
B NIGER ½ oz


VARIATION. Mixed seed was placed in the 4 dish feeders, un-mixed Black Sunflower [at A] and Niger [at B] in the 2 tube feeders. [See revised image above.] A is to the NW and B to the SE but when filled with mixed seed birds have shown no preference for one position over the other i.e. previously they have both emptied at the same rate. Consumed is the total amount used during the course of the trial i.e. ca. 12 hours. ‘Consumed’ does not necessarily mean eaten!

During the course of this trial I had opportunity to note what birds fed on what grain and from which source as shown below. [Table modified by addition of HEMP – see under 3 March 2011]

Mix. Sun. Nig. Hemp Ground
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Coal Tit
House Sparrow
Collared Dove


Frequent feeder.


Occasionally seen on feeder but not seen eating.


I also noticed the following. Several species [see table above] landed on the Niger but were not seen to eat any. Chaffinches and Sparrows landed on the Niger feeder only rarely, whereas Greenfinches, and Great and Blue Tits inspected the Niger briefly before usually flying straight to the Sunflower where they fed. Greenfinches occasionally ‘sipped’ at the Niger. For Goldfinches the reverse was true. They occasionally landed on the Sunflower but invariably left without feeding and only fed on the Niger. While on the Niger Goldfinches did not ‘shovel’ as they had when the same feeders contained mixed seed. At no time were Goldfinches seen on the dish feeders [containing mixed seed]. This indicates that Goldfinches either do not recognise the dish feeders as sources of food or distrust them. In this trial the dish feeders contained the same food that they so assiduously shovelled from the tube feeders in the previous trial, and in the previous trial a dish feeder contained straight Niger seed which they did not touch while it was in the dish feeder but was the only thing they ate when in a tube feeder. Goldfinches in my garden appear to eat only Niger but no other birds seem interest. I have never seen Siskin or Redpoll here in Somerset – two other birds often cited as eating Niger.
If Goldfinches were looking for Niger in the mixed seed was in the tube feeder, their shovelling is hardly to be wondered at. The mixed seed, ‘Bestpets Premium Wild’, [NOT an endorsement’; it is as poor as all the others I have tried!] contains Niger in infinitesimally minuscule quantities. In a random 4 oz sample there was too little to weigh accurately but amounted to less than half a teaspoonful and was equivalent in weight to approximately 2 peanuts! Compared to the pure Niger seed sample I have, the Niger contained in the Bestpets mixed seed appears of very poor quality – very small and shriveled. It may be enough to satisfy the legal requirements for stating that the product contains Niger but not enough to satisfy this customer – nor the ones in my garden!

Written on April 4th, 2011 , Bird-seed Survey Tags:

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