Can Bird Seed Go Bad? How Long Can they Last?

Bird seed can be bad and birds do have cravings for certain seed types. That being said “bad” bird seed is generally old or was exposed to moisture. In fact, if you’re asking “can bird seed go bad”, it probably isn’t bad.

There’s simply a high chance it might not be their preferred food and with no snow/no much cold weather- there is still more than enough for them elsewhere.

It is also important to ensure seed in the feeders remain fresh and nutritious.

READ MORE: Are Bird Scarers Dangerous?

Birdseed Storage Problems

While peanuts, cracked corn, sunflower seeds, and other birdseed types are attractive to a wide variety of birds, they are also attractive to raccoons, insects, rodents, and other pests.

The seed that is not properly stored can also become wet or be subjective to extreme heat and may start to rot, creating mildew and mold that can be dangerous, even deadly, to birds.

The seed that isn’t properly stored in strong containers may even be raided by birds that do not want to wait for feeder refills. Storing birdseed in a safe, secure way can rid you of these issues.

Properly stored seed is also simpler and enticing to use. Like you, a lot of bird watchers offer a variety of different foods for their birds and use a wide array of specialized feeders.

The seed that is carefully and efficiently stored can make refilling those feeders a fast and simple task.

  • Taste

Birds are unlikely to notice the taste of old or stale bird seed, even if you or your dog could. Older seed can be used in bird feeders if it does not appear infested with insects, clumpy or discoloured.

  • Mold

Clumped or moldy bird seed can become an health hazard to birds (your pet bird included). Seed stored in moist/damp conditions or allowed to remain in a feeder too long can develop mold.

Birds that consume these type of seeds may develop aspergillosis, a fatal respiratory disease. Keeping seeds dry and cleaning up spilled seed can help all bird types stay healthy.

  • Moths

Old bird seed may also contain moths. The moth insect typically lay their eggs in the seed itself and hatch out in the seed container.

These moths do not cause harm to the birds – in fact, many insectivorous birds may enjoy the additional protein from moth larvae – but they can infest human food, such as bread and flower.

So, you should store bird seed in airtight containers away from kitchens and pantries to prevent moth infestation.

How Can I Make Sure My Birdseed Doesn’t Go Bad?

You reduce the chances of your birdseed going bad by:

Filling with the right amount: Simply fill feeders with “enough” seed that will last a couple of days.

Fill for 3 days: You should fill feeders with no more seed than will be consumed in 3 days. Place millet and/or cracked corn and sunflower seed in a low, open screen-bottomed feeder. Offer sunflower seed in a hanging feeder.

Ensure your feeder is designed for your environment: Make sure your feeder is designed for your residence weather. If it’s a wood feeder, here are a few tips:  cedar feeders with large overhanging roofs, screen bottoms, screw construction, and no piano hinges are long lasting and weather-hardy.

How to Store Bird Seed in Garage

It is recommended that a birder should buy only enough birdseed for a short period to ensure that there are no storage problems, spillage, or other hazards.

When birds can easily consume many pounds of seed in a couple of days, but, this is not an economical or practical way to purchase birdseed.

Seed bought in bulk is often less expensive, and by storing it properly, birders can save money on birdseed without risking rodent infestations or spoilage.

Consider the following to keep birdseed safe and fresh even when stored:

  • Containers: Pick appropriate-sized birdseed containers for proper storage. Smaller containers are lighter and simpler to move if you need to carry them to many feeders, while larger containers will hold a greater quantity of seed. Sturdy plastic bins, heavy-duty plastic zip bags, and galvanized metal cans are well known bird seed storage containers. Larger containers on wheels, such as coolers or trash cans, can also be useful for storing birdseed.
  • Durability: Go for containers produced with sturdy materials that will not break, chip, or crack over time. If opting for metal containers, be sure they are galvanized and will not rust. Sturdier containers are also rodent damage resistant. Thick plastic bins with rounded corners are especially rodent-resistant and hard for invaders to chew.
  • Lids: All storage containers should seal tightly to deter rodents and insects from raiding the seed. Watertight lids are also advised as they help to minimize the risk of mold. If the containers will be stored outside, consider using cords, rope, or weights to keep them securely fastened against bears, raccoons, squirrels, bears, and other animals.
  • Location: Store birdseed containers in a convenient location for refilling feeders to make it an simple and efficient task. Depending on where your feeders are located, a garage, a patio storage box, a shed, or other location may be suitable. Seed stored in a dry, shaded area will last longer and stay fresher for birds to enjoy.
  • Labels: If you use many different types of birdseed for various types of feeders, label which seeds go with which feeders or pick clear or see-thru containers. This will make refilling specific feeders fast and easy, and can be useful if anyone else also refills the feeders.

Can Bird Seed Go Bad

How to Check for Bad Seed

If you’re still asking – Can bird seed go bad, your answer is below.

Perhaps, the biggest clue that your storage may be lacking and the birdseed supply may be inconsumable is if the birds no longer snack it.

While birds will go for other food sources such as seeds, fruits, and other insects in the summer and fall, there should be some birds willing to pay your bird feeder a visit as part of their daily foraging acyivity.

If you notice one particular variety of bird seed has been left “untouched” for long a long time, the seed may be bad, and it is time to check stored seed for problems.

Visual Inspection: Visually inspect the seed for signs of living or dead insects, webbing, larvae, or other impurity. Sift through the seed to know if an infestation is occurring throughout the stored seed or on particular parts.

Make sure you inspect seed deep inside large containers, because if there is a hole or crack in the bottom, seed at the top may still look fresh and uncontaminated.

Sniff the Stored Seeds: You should sniff the seed for hints of mildew and mold. These will be strong, sharp or musty odors that tell an unwelcome growth in the seed. Discoloration or odd colors can also indicate unwanted fungus or mold in the seed.

Sift the seed for signs of dampness or clumping: The seed that is clumped or caked has been wet and is now unhealthy for bird’s consumption.

A growing seed is another telltale of bad moisture. Also check for any unusual condensation under the lid or inside the birdseed storage container.

Check the bottoms and sides of storage containers: Check these areas for signs of rodent infestations, including chewing or bite marks, scat, tracks, spilled seed, or nearby caches of seed.

If pests are seen, take safe, appropriate steps to eliminate the rodents as well as improve birdseed storage.

If birdseed has been compromised through mildew or infestations, it must be disposed of. Throw out the seed in a container or bag out of reach of pests, birds, or other animals, and thoroughly wash, disinfect, and dry the container used for storage before refilling it with fresh and better tasting seeds.

If the container has suffered any damage, repair or replace it before further use.

To keep the birds safe, Never, Ever, EVER use toxic chemicals or spray like pesticides near birdseed storage containers to get rid of pests. Rather, move the birdseed to a new storage location until the pest problem has been solved.

Other FAQ

  • How Long Does Unopened Bird Seed Last?

When correctly stored, unopened birdseed should last between six and twelve months (depending on the seed and seed mix) before becoming unsuitable for garden birds.

  • How Long Does Bird Seed Last in a Bird Feeder?

For best results, we recommend not filling bird seeds that can last more than 3 days.

We suggest rotating seed stocks on a regular basis and always use your oldest seed first.

  • What Does Moldy Bird seed Look Like?

Moldy seeds will often look discolored, clumping, have dampness, sprouting seed, and have a strong, sharp musty odor.

There you have your answer to the question bothering you, can bird seed go bad? Feel free to share with us your experience using the comment section below.

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