Is organic seed healthier for birds? Answering this question may have multiple considerations.
An article in Audubon points out that a dirty bird feeder may be more harmful than trace amounts of pesticides in regular seed. Birds that eat seed from a treated crop field are more likely to ingest harmful chemicals than from a feeder stocked with bulk bird seed. Audubon also advises that regular feeding is a primary factor in the health and longevity of wild birds, so fill your feeder often!
In the organic versus conventional food debate, Science Daily published an article in 2010 about a 3-year study conducted by Newcastle University. The study found that when given the choice, birds opt for conventional food versus organic seed. Analysis involved a 6-week monitoring period of more than 30 feeding stations in northern England where it showed that birds had a “strong preference for conventional seed.” Published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, the findings “suggest that the current dogma that organic food is preferred to conventional food may not always be true,” explained Dr. McKenzie, lead researcher, School of Biology at Newcastle University.
In addition, Science-Based Medicine cited a literature review of nearly 100,000 articles that found only “12 relevant studies” that tested health outcomes based on organic versus conventional food. The 2010 American Journal of Clinical Nutrition article indicates “that organically and conventionally produced foodstuffs are broadly comparable in their nutrient content.” While scientific, agricultural and nutritional experts debate the merits of organic products, you can decide if the extra cost of organic seed is within your birdfeed budget.
A quick online comparison between organic and conventional seed reveals a price of $26 for a 5-lb. bag of organic shelled peanuts compared to $28.50 for a 10-lb. bag of PRD brand. Or a 5-lb. bag of organic Black Oil Sunflower seed can cost up to $16 but you save a $1.50 when ordering from PRDSeed.com. Besides cost, consider what it takes to get a product to market. Is it locally grown, supplied or manufactured? Localtarians or locavores eat seasonal locally-produced food because it helps support the local economy and requires fewer resources to get a product to market. PRDSeed has direct connections to local farmers and provides bulk seed at wholesale prices. By purchasing locally, you support area commerce and consume fewer resources.
Use of chemicals
A major difference between organic and conventional farming is the use of fertilizers and pesticides. A recent MinnPost article cites a Harvard School of Public Health honeybee study shows insecticide use is a key factor in bee population decline. The bird and bee ecosystem are closely intertwined, so it is important to choose wisely in terms of insecticide, pesticide, fertilizer or weed control use in the area of your bird feeder. Commercial warehouse brands or ‘big-box’ suppliers may offer discounts but buyer beware.
In selecting the right seed you want to consider the right balance of proteins, carbohydrates, lipids, minerals and vitamins. A University of Florida article outlines how poor nutrition can relate to decreased life span, whether it is a pet bird or wild birds at your feeder. Hulls of seeds have little to no nutritional value and ‘fortified’ bird seed, with added vitamins and minerals, or in pellet form may not be your best bet. The added nutrients can be sprayed on the seed or the hull adding minimal nutritional value.
To sum it up
An informed consumer is a wise consumer and a well-stocked bird feeder makes for healthy and happy birds. Whatever your budget, you can find quality seed at PRDseed.com and we provide free shipping. Contact us at 218/839-0117. Happy birding!