I purchased a sock filled with thistle and a large bag of bulk thistle from the same store. The sock is hung and the bulk thistle is in a feeder, but the birds don't eat from either.

Is there anything wrong with this thistle or is there something else going on? How can I tell if thistle has gone bad?

Also, if needed, what is the best way to dispose of thistle? I imagine dumping 10 pounds of thistle would start a thistle invasion!

  • Only certain birds like Goldfinches ( in US ) eat thistle seed. Jun 17, 2019 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


It looks like birds won't eat it once the seed dries out and not all birds like it so I would make sure that you have the right types of birds in your area. Sometimes the birds would also rather eat wild seeds instead of from feeders.

Also, it's not actually thistle seed, it's just called that for marketing purposes and it's sterilized by heat so you don't need to worry about thistles coming up from the seeds.


We have several feeders. Chickadees will eat nyger until the sunflower feeder is empty. Gold finch and purple finch seem to prefer the nyger seed. So far the only bird that eats millet seed (found in cheap mixes) are juncos and then only after it's been on the ground for a week or so.

By far the favourites at our feeders are the black oil sunflower seeds, and the lard-oatmeal bricks I make up.


I've had mixed results with "thistle" seed - some batches get eaten fairly quickly, while others just sit in the feeder until I dump them. I suspect it's a matter of how long they sit in storage before getting sold. Goldfinches prefer it, but I've also had Purple Finches and Juncos on the feeder fairly regularly. House Sparrows, perhaps surprisingly, will eat it, but they prefer seed they can shovel out onto the ground. Sometimes mesh bags work OK, but I generally find that the doll yankees style tube feeders with slits works really well. The disadvantage is that if the seed gets moldy, you can just throw a mesh bag away, but the feeder needs to be cleaned thoroughly. I would recommend that the seed be changed at least once a week, more recently if it's not getting any action. I've dumped it on the ground, but that's not so great if you don't want mouse invasions. Now I just add it to the compost bin. Incidentally, I was fascinated to see that Goldfinches absolutely love sunflower heads. They'll hang upside-down, picking the seeds out very neatly, then open the seeds and eat the hearts using the "top" of the head as a feeding platform. We now grow sunflowers every year, mainly for that.

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