Backyard Chirper

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Stopping Bird Seed From Sprouting in Your Yard

It’s a common occurrence. You start noticing small sprouts under your feeder. Weeds begin growing. Small critters are coming around more often. Then, you see—eek!—a rat scurrying about.

While bird feeders are designed to beautify your yard by bringing in ebullient birds, spilled bird seed can be destroy your lawn and make the place look like a mess. Fortunately, the solutions for stopping a lot of bird seed from spilling out of the bird feeder onto your lawn are easy.

Get a bird-seed catcher

Believe it or not, the main reason so much bird seed falls out of feeder is because birds are naturally messy eaters. It’s hard to blame them considering they don’t have any hands or a real jaw. So, in order to stop the birds from making a mess, employ the same tactic you would when trying to prevent a baby from getting food on its clothes—create a buffer. You can do this by attaching a bird-seed catcher to your feeder, which does exactly what its name implies; it catches the bird seed before it hits the ground. Depending on the type of catcher you get, sometimes birds will even eat off of that.

Stabilize the bird feeder

Another reason seed might scatter around your yard is because of wind or general movement from the birds. If a gust of wind comes along and blows one of your hanging feeders, a huge amount of seed could spill out. That’s why you should consider stabilizing the feeder with bird poles or other mounting equipment if it’s becoming a big issue.

Avoid using mixed-seed bargain bags

Even though birds are messy, that might not be the only reason you see them dropping seed all over the lawn. They might be protesting and throwing their food on the ground. As I’ve written before, birds are pretty picky when it comes to the type of seed they eat. Birds particularly dislike those mixed-seed bargain bags because they’re packed with filler seed. So, avoid those when you can.

Opt for “no waste” bird seed blends

On a related note, black oil sunflower seeds are great alternatives to mixed-seed bags since birds tend to eat almost all of it. However, if you get the seeds, birds will still make a mess and drop the cracked hulls. Luckily, some seed companies make what’s called “no waste” bird seed blends. These types of seeds will be completely eaten without a mess. Some examples of these are shelled peanuts, hulled sunflower chips, suet and more.

Sterilize the bird seed

Finally, if you don’t mind it falling on the ground, but you don’t want it to sprout, sterilize the bird seed before you put it out. This will prevent any seeds from sprouting. To sterilize the seed, simply put it in the oven for 30 minutes at 300 degrees. This essentially cooks it and stops it from germinating. This will not change any of the nutritional value of the seed either.

Timothy Martinez Jr. is a writer and freelance journalist. His work has been published in The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, Remapping Debate in New York City and other publications. He’s been a bird lover since he was young and currently lives in New Orleans, L.A.


  1. The raccoons got into my seed can last night. They feasted on the sunflower seeds, and only tore open the thistle seed bag, dragging it all through the gravel. I no way want this to sprout.
    I’m going to try out my new flame thrower from Harbor Freight!!
    I’ll post my results. 😂.

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