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Re: Bird Seed
On Mon, 15 Oct 2001, Brian Murphy wrote:
> Over the years I have tried everything from Food Lion seeds (major waste)
> to the "high quality" and expensive seeds from WBU. Seeds from places like
> WBU hurt the wallet, especially when you have the volume I have.
> What are the options? How about the seeds at Lowes or Southern States?
> Has anyone done research on all these seed sources?
> I purchased a 50# bag of Black Oil Sunflower seeds at BJ'S Warehouse for
> $9.99. Yes , $9.99 for 50#. Sure, there is some trash in the bag, but not
> enough for it to even approach the price from WBU. The feeder is just as
> busy as the feeder with "higher priced" seed. No excess trash on the ground.
> Look forward to hearing everyone's opinions.
I'm surprised there haven't been more opinions... Anyway, where you buy
seeds makes less difference in your feeders than which seeds you buy.
Black oil sunflower is black oil sunflower from any source. I think
Brian, comparing two feeders with cheap and premium seed side by side,
has tested this as experimentally as anybody. If you have trouble making
ends meet, you should save money and get the same seeds at BJ's. If you
can afford a few extra bucks - and looking at the cars and binoculars
that show up at most local birding trips, I'd say many of us can - you
should spend the extra few dollars and buy from the Audubon Society or
Wild Bird Center, or some other group that will turn the profits to a
good use. (note that when I say "you", I'm speaking collectively, not
just to Brian or anybody specific)
Randy Emmitt commented recently about buying the new Dave Sibley book at
the Regulator Bookshop on Ninth Street in Durham (which also hosted
Sibley for a book signing not long ago), as opposed to getting it from
on-line warehouses at about 3/4 of the price. Bird seed is similar. When
I buy seeds, suet, and whatever from the Wild Bird Center in Chapel Hill,
it's not because I think I'll get any more or different birds than if I
shop at BJ's or Sam's Club. It's because the WBC is owned by birders, and
because 5% of their profits (or something like that) goes to preserving
and managing land around Mason Farm. The rest, I assume, goes to the fund
to send Cynthia and her husband on birding trips. If I shop at Sam's
Club, the profits go to the Wal-Mart corporation, which then spends it
lobbying politicians to destroy more bird habitat in favor of strip-
malls, running family businesses out of business, and buying their CEO a
Brian specifically mentions Wild Birds Unlimited; I don't know how much
the corporation as a whole or its individual stores devote to bird
conservation, or to what extent either the stores or the company is owned
In the short run, sure, bird seed from Sam's or BJ's will attract just as
many birds than seed from a premium birder-specific outlet like WBC. But
in the long run, there will be more bird species at all our feeders if we
have more Mason Farms and other preserves in our neighborhoods, and fewer
strip malls and wholesale clubs.
> Are there good mail order sources?
I just did a quick web-search. Found a reference to the New Hope Audubon
bird seed sale; anyone know if, where, and when that's happening this
year? Alas, most of the Audubon chapters and other nonprofits that sell
bird seed to raise funds for conservation require you to pick up your
seed in person, no mail-ordering.
However, it does appear that the Cornell Lab of Ornithology is now
selling bird seed and suet cakes on-line; see
I wonder what it means that the National Bird Feeding Society
(http://www.birdfeeding.org/) doesn't list a single source of bird seed
in either of the Carolinas...
A few other on-line sources of less certain merit, for those who want to
Joshua S. Rose
Department of Biology (Zoology, R.I.P.)