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Nyjer® v. Niger
   · Regardless what you call it, there are lots of reasons to like this tiny seed

let us just call it ThistleMaybe you noticed a minor change in our seed labels and thought to yourself: "Isn't the proper name for my thistle seed NYJER? What gives? Why NIGER Guizotia abyssinica?"
   Well, the name NYJER® is a trademarked name owned by the Wild Bird Feeding Institute (WBFI) which is now owned by Wild Bird Centers of America—a franchise operation with stores all over North America.
   The name "Nyjer®" was created to eliminate product confusion and the offensive mispronunciation of the word “niger.” It became a recognized, trademarked name in 1998. However, due to legal constraints imposed upon J.J. Cardinal's by WBFI in 2009, some eleven years after the name was changed, we have opted to revert back to the common spelling: "niger" pronounced "nye-ger" or "nie-jer"...or, let us simply call it what most of our customers call it: "thistle"— even though it isn't. The legal beagles have spoken...and now you know the rest of the story.
   Niger is not the pink to purple flowering plant of the thistle species. Niger is an oilseed crop that is cultivated in Asia. The average plant height is four feet, and it is traditionally harvested while the buds are still yellow, and then stacked to dry. yep, just a wee-pile of thistle seedThe seeds, loosely held in the flower head, are black, and narrowly long. It is the only major wild bird feed ingredient imported from overseas. In 1985, the US Dept. of Agriculture ruled heat treatment as a “condition of entry” when bringing niger/thistle into the US. In 1997, treatment temperature was set at 250°F for fifteen minutes to devitalize all weed seeds that may be present in niger shipments.
   The “Guizotia abyssinica”/niger seeds have been marketed as bird seed for about 40 years; it is highly attractive to American goldfinches, house finches, black-capped chickadee, downy woodpecker, and if in the north, pine siskin and common redpoll.
   There are many styles of feeders for offering thistle seed. These feeders have very small openings that conserve seed. If you would like a feeder specifically for attracting small birds consider a niger/thistle feeder. Niger seldom attracts larger birds, and squirrels do not have much interest in niger/thistle. See a J.J.Cardinal Naturalist the next time you visit if you have questions on niger/thistle or would like to see our assortment of feeders.

Louise Dawson
on behalf of the the Naturalists at J.J. Cardinal’s

"Happiness is wanting what you have."  

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J.J. Cardinal's Wild Bird & Nature Store ®
12830 S. Saginaw St., Grand Blanc, MI  48439  810-695-8733
07/16/09 illustrations, text & fun © J.J. Cardinal's 1992-2009
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