What Birds eat Thistle? | Do all birds eat thistle?

Are you an enthusiastic bird feeder trying to maximize the widest variety of bird traffic in your backyard? Thistle or Nyjer seeds are one mainstay for bird feeders, and help to attract active, colorful, and entertaining visitors. 

Intro Video - Backtobirds x
Intro Video - Backtobirds

For several American wild species and seed-eating birds, thistle is an ideal food and one of the most popular bird seed types. Nyjer is a small, black, and flat seed that comes from American yellow daisies. 

It is high in oils and highly nutritious with a mix of fat, fiber, and protein, and is abundantly rich in being a source of energy for backyard birds. It is an expensive variety of commercial birdseed available. Most of the birders prefer to provide Nyjer in small quantities.

To lower the cost, thistle is often seen in canary or finch mix proportions along with millets or sunflower seed, which looks appealing to birds that eat thistle and is less expensive than a pure thistle seed.

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By mixing thistle with sunflower seeds, you can increase the visits of a steady cast of wild birds to your backyard during the winter season and double your enjoyment in winter bird feeding.

Which birds eat thistle?

The Thistle-eating birds have sharp-pointed and small bills to easily crack shells of the thistle seeds and extract the proteins. The thistle-loving species are known as clinging birds because of their feeding habit of acrobatically clinging to the side of the feeder and There are a few birds that even eat upside down.

The thistle feeders are specially designed with a small hole feature through which birds can easily extract the seeds, without pouring out the entire bag. 

The most common thistle eating birds are:

  • American goldfinches
  • European goldfinches
  • Common redpolls
  • California quail
  • House finches
  • Hoary redpolls
  • Dark-eyed juncos
  • Indigo buntings
  • Pine siskins
  • Purple finches
  • Lesser goldfinches
  • Mourning doves
  • Song sparrows

Thistles are a popular feed among quails, buntings, finches, doves, towhees, and sparrows. At times, even exotic species like woodpeckers, chickadees, thrushes, and few other birds can also be spotted snacking thistles from seed feeders.

Related Read: How Do Birds Find Bird Feeders? | Will Birds Come To A Bird Feeder?

Do birds eat thistle seed in winter?

Thistle is one of the most popular expensive seeds that winter birds like to eat during cold and snowy seasons. Birds eat thistle as thistle contains an excellent source of energy and is enriched with high-calorie nutrients much needed for the beautiful and colorful winter birds.

Thistle-eating birds are small perching birds. Some birds travel in flocks. Natural seed and grain supplies are scarce in winter, and most of the seed-eating species are year-round residents. Offering thistle seeds in your bird feeder in the winter is a good option, and you can enjoy some truly eye-catching beautiful sights in your backyard.

Can you put Thistle in a regular bird feeder?

Specialized and customized bird feeders are needed to attract eagerly consuming thistle seed bird species. Due to this, thistle can’t be feed on a regular bird feeder. The two most popular thistle seed feeders are tube feeders and thistle sock. 

Tube feeders have small and thistle-sized holes and are constructed with accessory trays to avoid seeds fall on the ground.

A thistle sock is composed of a fine braided mesh and thistle seeds filled in a synthetic bag. Most of the finches pull the thistle seeds out of this mesh feeder bag, by clinging to it upside down.. Thistle seeds can become moldy or rancid in wet weather, make sure to change into fresh bags when birds stop visiting the feeder.

Because of their oily nature, thistle seeds can dry out often and lose their capacity to attract birds. Birds will turn their beaks into dried seeds, so purchase less quantity and use it for a month.

Will thistle bird seed grow?

Thistle seeds never sprout or germinate in your backyard lawn, so they cant be grown. The imported thistle seeds for birds are sterilized for 15 minutes at 120 degrees celsius and then sold under the Nyjer trademark

In North America, invasive thistle plants have become a huge scarcity and are imported from overseas. The seeds undergo a heat-sterilization process to limit their spreading and form as unwanted weeds in the garden, but it retains their food value and nutrients.

When to put out thistle seed for finches?

Most finches come to bird feeders during the cold winter season. To attract squatty and beautiful stout beaks and various hues finches, hang out the thistle feeder in your backyard during snowy days.

Hang your thistle tube or mesh feeder away from another feeder to make a way for tiny finches to eat without any disruption from large birds like blue jays.

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