Microwaving bird seed?

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

Hi all,
Somewhere on DG there was a thread that mentioned microwaving bird seed in order to prevent it from sprouting in the garden. I just bought my first bag of bird seed, a songbird mix, and I want to put a handful in the feeder pictured below. But I'd like to prevent the seed from sprouting.

Is microwaving bird seed effective for this? If so, how much and how long? Should it be wet? Silly questions, I know. But I don't want to ruin the seed or my flower beds!

Thanks for your help.

Thumbnail by MiniPonyFarmer
Marlton, NJ

I don't remember a thread like that. Are you feeding black oil sunflower seed?

Lebanon, OR

In the past I have tried this and truly did not notice that much difference and I feed, thistle, sunflower seeds and safflower seeds as well...peanuts too for the jays.

Suet for them all


Marlton, NJ

I was under the impression that only black oil sunflower seed would sprout. I've never seen anything else sprout in my yard.

Lebanon, OR

the millet that is in the songbird or wild bird seed mixes will sprount here very well.


Katy, TX(Zone 8b)

I vaguely remember maybe not a thread but a mention that microwaving or baking bird seed would keep it from germinating. The only one that I had trouble with was the sunflower seed but mulching in a wide circle around the stand or post that the feeder sits on will discourage that as well as any other seed that decides it likes your climate and dirt. I've just never had that much trouble w/the seed germinating. With the type of weather we have down here lots of different seeds will grow for a bit but once that hot sun hits them they are gone. It shouldn't hurt the seed. I was wondering what birds you will be feeding at this time of year. You'll find I am just curious - not really nosy.


The Ozarks, MO(Zone 5b)

It is my understanding that microwaving may change the nutritional value of bird seed. If you bake sunflower seeds in a conventional oven it will dry them out and microwaving Black Oil Sunflower Seeds will make an oily mess. Also neither method will stop germination..according to what I have read. I have found the best way to control the germination is to keep the area raked or possibly have a tray that may catch some of the seeds.

When I was feeding a wild bird seed mix I did have something come up and I think it was milo. I let some of it grow and the birds ate the seeds on it this winter.

Another thing you can do is feed a no-mess mixture which is shelled seeds and nuts etc. Some companies call it a patio mix and I use it where I don't want stuff to grow.

You have such a lovely area to feed and watch the birds...best of luck and hope you gets lots of cool birds to visit your feeder. Your rock garden is beautiful.

Lebanon, OR

The only reason we do not use what you are using is the expense...we have 5 feeders plus two hummer feeders (not in use now)

Feed chickadees, jays, startling (yuck), finches, sparrows, swallows, junos, woodpeckers and others...


The Ozarks, MO(Zone 5b)

Yes it does get expensive!! I have been getting a really nice mix that is running about $1 a pound. The Black Oil Sunflower Seeds which I use in areas where I can mow are running about .35 cents a pound. Of course I don't look at the price of nyger anymore...LOL!

Dover AFB, DE(Zone 7a)

Nyjer is irradiated so that it will not sprout. That is the only one that I have found that is "killed". I make sure that the mix with milo in it is only put into the feeders over the lawn where I can mow it down easily. Tho' I've given up on fighting the sunflowers... the jays and squirrels and who knows who else stash seeds all around. I was on the roof last summer and saw some pressed into the sparkscreen of the chimney.

Gilmer, TX(Zone 8b)

Hi everyone and thanks for your VERY helpful replies!

This is my first year to put birdseed in this location, and I have no idea what birds are here to attract?

The mix is a songbird mixture, and it contains some sunflower seeds and other stuff....I'd read the label but it is outside on the porch and I'm upstairs.

A few years back, my daughter put a bird feeder in the horse's pasture and it dropped and sprouted stuff that looked like sorghum and other stuff that looked like corn. I don't know what it was. I just did not want that to happen in the flower bed since I worked so hard to make it!!!!

Where would I find the seed that has already been irradiated or treated so that it won't sprout? I did not find it at Wal Mart when I shopped....

Marlton, NJ

Did you see a Deck &Patio mix. That usually just has sunflower chips,peanuts and sometimes pecans.

I usually use just Sunflower Chips or the Deck &Patio mix. I haven't had any problems.

Canton, TX

I have great success using the Oven method.
Use this recipe.

Sterilizing Bird Seed
Oven Method
•Preheat oven to 325.
•Place a ¾ inch layer of seed in a large pan and put pan in preheated oven.
•Bake seed for 20-25 minutes. (Stirring occasionally)
•Cool and store in an airtight container.

Microwave Method
•Place one pound of seed in a large microwave proof pan.
•Microwave on high for 1¾ - 2 minutes depending on microwave and how thick the seed layer is.
•Cool and store in an airtight container.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.