One of the first things many of us do to help nature is to put out feeders full of bird seed. It’s one of the easiest ways to attract birds to your garden after all. But, there are a few basics that you ought to know about bird seeds such as: Does bird seed go bad?
Yes, bird seed does go bad eventually like most food products. Most bird seed packaging will have an expiry date which should be adhered to.
Does Bird Seed Go Bad in the Feeder?
Over time, bird seed will go bad in the feeder. Ultimately, if you leave any food open to the elements for extended periods of time then it will turn damp, form mould and go bad.
This is why it’s so important to avoid overfilling feeders. If you’re new to feeding birds, then start by filling it only a third of the way up. You want to replenish the feed every few weeks. If you fill the feeder the whole way and find it takes a month to all go then you’re overfilling it.
Remember, feeding birds isn’t a one time job. You don’t load the feeder up and then forget about it. It requires maintenance. You need to keep them filled with fresh food and you need to clean them regularly to avoid spreading diseases.
You should actually clean bird feeders once every week or two.
Does Bird Seed Go Bad in Winter?
Bird feed is more susceptible to going bad and mouldy during the winter months. This, of course, doesn’t mean you should avoid putting food out. If anything, food is scarce during the winter so it’s more vital that you put food out now.
It’s a good idea to ensure the seed you do put out gets replaced weekly during the wetter and colder months of the year. To avoid any going to waste, simply make sure you don’t fill the feeders up too much. It’s better to replenish them every few days versus every few weeks.
If you’re worried, you can also purchase rainproof bird feeders. These feeders have a sloping roof over the top to keep the seeds protected from heavy rain.
Unfortunately, they’re not completely rainproof and won’t protect seeds from temperature changes so aren’t completely effective.
Want to Attract Birds to Your Garden?
We’ve Put Together an Ultimate Guide to Attracting Birds to Your Garden Including What to Plants and What to Feed Them:
Does Unopened Bird Seed Go Bad?
Whether it’s unopened or not, bird feed will eventually go bad. Most packaging will contain an expiry date that is worth consulting to determine whether the seed has gone bad.
If it doesn’t have a date, then when you open it, give it a sniff to see if it smells off. It will have a pungent smell instead of the usual nutty, seed smell you’ll be used to.
You’ll also find that the seed clumps together when it’s turning bad as it releases oils and fats which then stick to one another.
There are a few obvious signs that the seed has gone bad. First, if there is visible green or white mould growing then you should dispose of the bag. Second, if there is a strange odour. Third, if there is unusual clumping that won’t break apart.
How Should You Store Bird Seed?
There are a few rules you’ll want to follow when storing bird seed:
First, it needs to be kept in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight and major temperature fluctuations. If it sits in the sunlight or gets damp then you will drastically reduce the shelf life of the seeds.
The other things to bear in mind are mice and rats. Some seed packets will come with a resealable top. This may seem like a good idea but it’s not solid enough to ward off rodents that will want to eat the seeds. Instead, invest in a Tupperware container with a tight-fitting lid.
You should also avoid mixing bags of seeds in one container as they may have different expiry dates. Instead, empty one seed bag into the container, finish it off and then refill the entire container in one go.
As long as you keep them stored correctly, bird seed will last for between 6 and 12 months. This will be limited by the expiry date on the packaging when you purchase the seeds, of course!
Is Spoiled Bird Seed Bad for Birds?
Yes! It can be bad for birds. Much like if humans eat food that has gone off, if birds do the same then it can make them sick.
First of all, it can waste the bird’s time. A bird will eat seeds to obtain nutrients that they need to survive. If the bird seed has gone bird then, chances are, it will have lost all its nutritional benefits.
Secondly, spoiled bird seeds can be harmful to birds. It can make them sick and, in rare cases, could result in their death.
Bird seed does go bad, eventually. It should be stored properly, kept away from direct sunlight and used before the expiry date on the packaging. It’s also important to ensure nuts and seed doesn’t sit in the feeder for extended periods of time where they can go mouldy.
These rules also apply to other bird food such as peanuts and suet balls which can both also go bad eventually. The last thing you want to do is to feed birds spoiled food.