Feeders and Feeding: Keep Your Seed Fresh

Keep Your Seed Fresh With a ‘First In First Out’ Technique

Tube-type feeders are favorites of backyard bird watchers, goldfinches, and pine siskins. Unfortunately, the seed that gets eaten out of a tube feeder comes from the top and the middle of the column of seed. Fresh seed gets added at the top of the tube. It’s LIFO-Last In, First Out. The seed that was added most recently gets eaten first; the seed at the bottom of the feeder gets eaten very slowly, if at all, and quickly turns stale.

The solution to eliminating stale seed comes from a technique your local grocer practices to manage the store’s inventory: First In, First Out, or FIFO. The principle is simple: Make sure the oldest inventory gets used first so that none of the inventory gets so old that it can’t be sold. Or, in the case of birdseed, make sure the old seed gets eaten before it gets old, stale, and unfit to eat.

The FIFO technique is easy: Just add new seed to the bottom of the feeder. Since tube feeders open at the top, the easiest way to do this is to empty any seed remaining in the feeder into a bucket before adding new seed, then pour fresh seed into the bottom of the feeder and top it off with the older seed from the bucket. Now, as finches feed, they’ll eat more of the older seed. And no seed sits at the bottom of the feeder long enough to become stale.

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