How to Store Bird Seed and Keep It Fresh

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If you want to feed the birds in your backyard, it's important to do so safely. Learn how to store bird seed and keep it fresh.

Keep the birds in your backyard happy and healthy with these bird feeding tips. Here’s how to store bird seed to keep it dry and protect it from mold and insects.

Add More Bird Feeders 

Crowded spaces can quickly lead to messy surroundings. This is true in many aspects of life, and it’s also true for birds. If you have a single bird feeder constantly being mobbed by visitors, then maybe it’s time to put out another one. This will instantly alleviate all the traffic going to a single source, and it’ll help keep your feeding space cleaner longer.

Check out the 10 types of bird feeders you need in your yard.

how to store bird seed Courtesy William Woodard
Red-bellied woodpecker on an icy feeder

Refill Bird Feeders After Rain or Snow

No one likes to eat soggy food, and birds, too, will avoid food that has been out in the rain. Even when it dries, the food is usually moldy, a potential hazard. If you can, set feeders up under a protected area, away from the rain and damp conditions. If this isn’t an option, then be sure to clean feeders out after a storm or shower.

Wild bird diseases: Here’s what you need to know.

Practice Good Bird Seed Storage Habits

The seed you use is only as good as your storage method. Let’s face it—feeding birds is an investment. That’s why it’s worth spending some time and effort to come up with a good seed storage solution. Ideally, you’ll store your seeds in a sealed container, away from mice, squirrels and other critters. This will keep your bird feeding station tidy and birds healthy.

Follow these tips to create a bird-safe backyard.

Clean Feeders With Bleach

A good rule of thumb is to clean your feeders at least once with every new season. Hummingbird feeders should be cleaned more often, every week during the height of the season. All you need is a little bit of bleach and a stiff brush to give them a good cleaning. Scrub with a mixture of 9 parts water to 1 part bleach. Rinse well and let dry before filling them.

Learn how to clean a bird bath.

male and female American goldfinchCourtesy Margaret Deckman
American goldfinches on a thistle seed feeder

No More Moldy Thistle Seed

Nyjer thistle seed can get moldy fast, especially in a new feeder that birds haven’t found yet. An easy solution? Fill your finch feeder only halfway and clean it out regularly.

Psst—these are the three types of seeds and feeders birds love best.

Weevils in Bird Seed

“Even though I store my birdseed in the original bag in a covered metal garbage pail, it is infested with small black spiders. How do I prevent this?” asks James Castner of Batavia, Illinois.

Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman: Your bugs sound like grain weevils (Sitophilus granarius), common pests of grains found in bird seed. The best way to keep out these invaders is to store bird seed in metal cans with lids. Since you’re already doing that, there’s a good chance the weevils were in your seed when you bought it. We’re often asked if it’s OK to feed bug-infested seeds to birds, and the answer is no. While many birds would certainly eat them, insects in bird seed usually indicate that the seeds are old and potentially moldy. It’s best to buy fresh seed from a reputable bird feeding store, and don’t hesitate to ask about the quality of the seed before you buy.

Next, learn 7 natural ways to keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird feeders.

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Lori Vanover
Lori Vanover is the senior digital editor for Birds & Blooms. She has a bachelor's degree in agricultural and environmental communications from the University of Illinois. Lori enjoys growing vegetables and flowers for pollinators in her backyard gardens. She also is an avid bird-watcher.