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How to Keep Bird Seed from Sprouting?

how to keep bird seed from sprouting

If you have a bird feeder in your yard, then I’m sure you know the struggle of dealing with sprouted bird seed. Birds are quite messy eaters, so there will always be some spilled birdseed right under your feeder. And those seeds will ultimately sprout and turn into pesky weeds.

However, there are ways how to keep bird seed from sprouting, and they are not that difficult at all. In fact, you already have all the things that you need to do all these methods at home, so there’s no reason why you should not at least try them.

Step-by-Step Guide

Using the Oven

oven bird seed

What to prepare:

  • An ordinary convection oven
  • A baking tray
  • Wax paper line
  • Birdseed

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Preheat the oven

You do not need to roast the birdseed to sterilize them. What you have to do is to heat the seeds enough to dry and damage the cells, thereby keeping them from germinating. In this case, you just need to preheat the oven to 140 degrees F.

Step 2 – Layer the birdseed on the tray

Before you spread birdseed all over your favorite baking tray, you should place a sheet of wax paper over it. The wax paper or parchment should be a bit bigger than the baking tray. This will prevent the baking tray from smelling like birdseed.

Once you have placed a wax paper liner over the baking tray, you can spread the birdseed. Make sure that the bird seeds are level so that they heat up evenly.

Step 3 – Bake the birdseed for 10 minutes

Place the tray with birdseed in the oven. Let the birdseed bake for around 10 minutes. However, you do need to mix the seeds up after 5 minutes to make sure they are evenly heated. This is important because you would not want the birdseed underneath to not get sterilized.

Step 4 – Let the birdseed cool

After 10 minutes have passed, take out the birdseed from the oven and spread them over a sheet of newsprint. This will allow the seeds to cool down rapidly. You would not want the seeds to cook too much as this will cause them to lose nutrients. Once the birdseed has cooled down to room temperature, you can transfer it into the feeder.

Using the Microwave

microwave bird seed

If you don’t have a convection oven, another way how to keep bird seed from sprouting under feeders is by microwaving them.

What to prepare:

  • A microwave-safe container
  • A microwave
  • Birdseed

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Place the birdseed in a microwave-safe container

If you still have one of those plastic containers that most restaurants use when you order takeout you can use those. They are disposable, and none of the chemicals in the plastic will leach into the bird seed.

Step 2 – Microwave the birdseed

Set the microwave on high and heat the bird seed for around 10 to 20 seconds. This should be enough time to sterilize the seeds and prevent them from sprouting. The seeds should be quite warm, but not smoking hot.

If the seeds have not gotten enough heat, you can add another 10 seconds to the timer. That should do the trick.

Step 3 – Let the seeds cool

Immediately layer the seeds on a sheet of newsprint or paper towels to let them cool down rapidly. Once the seeds are at room temperature, you can now transfer them into your bird feeder.

Figure Out What Seeds the Birds Like

how to keep bird seed from sprouting under feeders

Another way to prevent bird seed from sprouting in your garden is to only feed the birds with the kinds of seed they like. If you feed birds with a mix of different seeds, they will pick out and discard the ones that they do not like.

What to prepare:

  • Small batches of different kinds of bird seed
  • Small plastic containers

Detailed steps:

Step 1 – Place the seeds in separate plastic containers

Fill the plastic containers with different kinds of birdseed and set them out in your yard. Do not place them too far apart from each other. This will allow the birds to choose which seeds they prefer to eat.

Step 2 – Wait for a couple of days

Leave the containers out for a couple of days to get a clear idea of the seed preferences of the birds. Check each container. Which of the seeds seems to be popular with the birds in your yard? Unlike people, you cannot force wild birds to feed on what seeds you want them to.

Take note of the seeds that the birds like and just buy those instead of the usual bag of assorted seed varieties. If the birds like eating the seeds that you put out, then fewer will fall out and sprout.


Knowing how to keep bird seed from sprouting will save you from all the hassle of unwanted weeds growing under the feeder. The methods mentioned above are not difficult at all, so there is no reason why you should not give them a try.

Also, you don’t need to worry about the nutrients leaching out when you sterilize the seeds. The change is so minimal that it is almost insignificant. The methods above have been proven to work. With these methods at hand, you can almost guarantee that there will no longer be any weeds in your garden due to the spilled birdseed.

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