Storing birdseed can be tricky. Buying in bulk is often the most budget-friendly way to stock up on birdseed, especially if you feed a large and hungry flock. Yet buying larger quantities of birdseed can lead to storage concerns, though there are different solutions to storing seed effectively. I’ve tried multiple solutions, and finally found one that works well for me.
Difficulties of Storing Birdseed
No matter what seed you offer birds, if you buy in bulk, you will develop seed storage problems of one type or another. The type of seed, the quantities you buy, how fast birds eat it, and how you store it will all determine just what difficulties you may face, such as…
- Protecting stored seed from rodent activity, including the sharp teeth of mice, rats, and other raiders
- Preventing insect infestations from developing, which could bring larvae, moths, and ants to your seed
- The development of mold, fungus, mildew, and other rot as seed gets older and may get wet or humid
- Loss of nutritional value as older seed may dry out or otherwise lose value to the birds it is intended to feed
- Potential for toxic contamination as stored seed may be exposed to other chemicals that could be stored nearby
- Potential for spillage if seed containers or bags are tipped or tilted, leading to loss or inviting rodents to a feast
- Lack of space for storing multiple containers or larger containers that could be heavier to move or lift
Different Ways to Store Birdseed
Every birder has their own way to combat different storage problems. I’ve done different options myself, including…
- Using an outside closet on an apartment balcony to store bags
- Multiple bins of different seeds stored in a plastic garden shed
- Bins store in a plastic storage box on a covered deck
- Bins and bags stored in an attached garage
- Storing loose seed and nuts in a galvanized trash can
Of course, those are far from the only options. Many birders will store seed…
- In resealable bags, possibly inside additional containers
- In dedicated storage bins, the same type used for pet food
- In large glass or plastic jars with easily sealing lids
- In containers indoors where door seals are sturdier to keep pests out
- In lockable outdoor sheds or bins to keep intruders away
The only right way to store birdseed is however it is right to store it for your needs. So long as the seed is safe from unwanted snackers and the storage isn’t contributing to mold, rot, or other unhealthy conditions, then you’re storing it properly.
Why I Store Birdseed in the Freezer
My personal birdseed storage is even more unique these days. I have storage closets and cabinets in my garage, but you don’t find my seed there. It isn’t in the large bins next to the man-sized garage door, nor is it stored on my patio near to the feeders. The seed isn’t stored in my kitchen, or in the galvanized trash can next to my water heater.
But open up the chest freezer in my garage, and you’ll find not only a selection of meat, extra loaves of bread, several jars of homemade freezer jam, a handful of popsicles, and seasonal treats for upcoming holidays, but you’ll also find my birdseed. Mixed premium seed for songbirds, hulled sunflower hearts as a treat, critter mix for grackles and squirrels, and both in-shell peanuts and peanut hearts, it’s all in the freezer.
But why freeze birdseed? I’ve found the unique challenges of living in central coastal Florida make storing birdseed in more traditional ways to be ineffective. The area’s high humidity fosters more mold and fungus growth, particularly when seed is stored in bags or tight containers. Because there is no cold season to keep pest populations down, larvae and moths can become abundant in most containers, even with tight-fitting lids. And because my area has many natural food sources available, the birds don’t eat much seed at the moment, so if I save money by buying seed in larger bags, it’s more likely to go bad before it is used.
The freezer is my answer. The larger bags of seed I buy are broken down into smaller, plastic jugs for easy handling, while the peanuts are kept in their original plastic jars and bags to be used as needed. All fit neatly in the freezer, and a convenient cup for refilling feeders is hanging from the side of the freezer. It’s easy enough for me to select what foods I need and walk out of the garage to my feeders, returning the containers to the freezer after every refill.
But Isn’t Frozen Seed Bad for Birds?
Not at all. Even birdseed retailers recommend storing seed in the freezer for longer periods so it stays fresh. While yes, the seed is colder as soon as I put it out, it quickly thaws, even before the birds return for their next snack. Because the seed isn’t stored in ice, there’s no extra moisture or need to chip it out or melt it for feeding birds. The jays, grackles, and cardinals that enjoy the frozen peanuts don’t mind the cold at all, and their bills are strong enough to break up nuts even if they did have a snack before the peanuts have fully defrosted. What the birds don’t miss, however, is the mold, fungus, and larvae that would otherwise infest their food.
Freezing birdseed works for me; it may not work for you, or it may not be necessary based on your climate and seed storage preferences. But if you do face similar difficulties, it just might be time to chill – your birdseed and the birds that eat it will be better off for their deep freeze!
Great ideas as I’ve often bought birdseed that becomes riddled with pantry moths. These horrid pests move into other areas of the pantry and I have to throw lots of items away as food waste. Freezing is a good idea. Thanks for this article and happy birding.
Hi, I like the idea of storing birdseed in the freezer and have tried it. However when I bring the seed out and fill the feeder because it is cold it condensates and gets moisture on it and it clumps up. How do you avoid that from happening??
Many Thanks !!
Hi Tom, thanks for your comment! Some condensation will naturally happen when you bring seed out of the freezer, and how much depends on the humidity of your climate. As I live in Florida where it is VERY humid, that’s a big problem! Personally, I don’t fill the feeders completely – I just put enough out for 1-2 days, which means the seed gets eaten more quickly and therefore doesn’t clump as much. I also mix my own seed from a few different types – I put some seed mix in with sunflower hearts and some shelled nuts, then give it all a lot of shaking before I refill the feeders. While I’m doing that, the seed really warms up fast and doesn’t have a chance to clump, as I’m shaking it (in a plastic jug), then it’s straight into the feeders. If you use more open feeders – platforms or mesh – that will also allow more air circulation so the seed dries out better. I hope these tips help – happy birding!
I have always stored mine in metal trash cans, just cut the tops of the bags and set the bags in. I have 2 large cans I use. I haven’t had anything go bad because we go through it so fast. Never had issues with bugs or rodents. I do occasionally see the squirrels trying to get the tops off, but I hold the lids down with bungee cords, I used to use a heavy brick on each lid that worked just as good. I keep suet in our back hallway by the door to the backyard.
You can also think about using containers for storage. One of the more common types of storage bins are galvanized metal cans and plastic bins. Another option is a plastic zip bag.
All great ideas! Because I’m in Florida, the freezer keeps bugs at bay, but in northern regions, containers can be a fantastic option.
I started freezing my bird seed because of the bugs too but the biggest reason is after living in my neighborhood for over 40 years I started getting black bears! So except for the dead of winter I have to be mindful of when and how I feed the birds. I mix my own by the cupful and when the doggie goes out first thing every morning I put out some birdseed! Even before I get back into the house the birds know I put out the food for them. I also do it in the day time sometimes. I store the seed in plastic containers that started out as creamer containers. My daughter goes through a few a week, so I have a steady supply and they fit on the door of my upright freezer. And I also buy small bags so they start out fresher.
Wow, how clever to use creamer containers! Are you able to pour the seed directly from the bottle? That would be handy for sure (I mix mine into gallon jugs after the freezing; that kills all the bugs/larvae, and then it goes in a storage cabinet instead of the freezer, but the bottles are sealed). Happy birding to you!
I have a small refrigerator outside next to the BBQ grill area, and would like to know if I could store the bird seed in it’s package out there. Any help will be appreciated.
Sounds like a perfect place to keep your birdseed safe and free of pests!