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What Birds Eat Thistle Seed

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what birds eat thistle seed

Seeds are a common source of nutrition in nature for various birds. And seeds have always been one of the important foods for birds surviving the cold winters where other nutritious fruits are gone.

Therefore, when we want to attract birds to our garden, we hang feeders filled with their favorite seeds, including sunflower, safflower, thistle or nyjer, millets, and more.

In this article, we’ll discuss the thistle seed and the various birds that enjoy eating it. You can use this guide as a reference.


What is Nyjer Thistle Plant?

Thistle seed is derived from an African Daisy, a type of flower originally grown in Ethiopia. However, they have been cultivated worldwide over the years, making thistle seeds available everywhere.

Therefore, purchasing thistle seeds is not difficult, either through offline or online shops. You can easily find packages of thistle at your local stores that sell bird food. However, compared to other seeds, they are rather expensive. That’s why most people mix them with sunflower seeds, millets, and other cheaper types.

These seeds are nutritious, often high in oil, thus providing enough energy for birds even when consumed in a small quantity. And your backyard birds surely love these thistle seeds.

What Birds Eat Thistle Seed?

As mentioned above, people purchase thistle seeds to attract birds to their backyards. If you also plan to do so, here’re some of the most popular culprits of eating thistle seed.

  • Family of Finch: American Goldfinch, Purple Finch, House Finch
  • Chickadee birds: Carolina Chickadee, Mexican Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee
  • Nuthatches
  • Sparrows
  • Quails
  • Doves
  • Buntings
  • Mourning doves
  • Song sparrows
  • California quail

How to Feed Thistle Seed to Birds?

how to feed thistle seed to birds

While using thistle seeds only is good, you can always mix them with other seeds. Keep in mind that these seeds are not cheap, so there’s no need to go all out with the thistle seeds.

Use a thistle sock

It’s basically like a sock made from mesh to keep the thistle seeds from falling out but not make it hard for the birds to peck through them.

Just put the seeds inside the sock, and hang them outside your house, on a tree, and at a visible spot for birds to notice.

Make sure you check and see if the sock is still in good condition since it may get dirty or even damp. Birds can also peck and sag the sock rather quickly.

Use a tube feeder

These tubes can come in plastic or something metallic, depending on what you need. Some designs allow you to put them on a flat surface, and some are for hanging.

These clear feeders have tubes sticking out on the sides so the birds can perch comfortably while eating. They are often from 16 – 36 inches tall, with about six tiny ports for birds to pick the seeds. Make sure you check and refill it.

Use a metal mesh

We can also hold the thistle seeds in with a piece of special mesh. The mesh ensures that the seeds are inside safely and makes it easy for the birds to eat them.

They have feeding spots all over. So, if many birds visit your backyard, this is the feeder to use.


Thistle seeds are packed with protein, fiber, and fat. It also has high oil content and is considered good for winter birds. To attract birds to your backyard, make sure you use the right feeders to give them a good serving of these seeds.

Also, feel free to share this helpful information with your fellow birders!

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