Would bird seed be something potentially useful in a home emergency kit?

I’ve always been prepared for potential disasters since I live in a major earthquake zone. I was just wondering if I should buy one of those 20 pound bags of bird seed and put it in a storage container somewhere.

I buy bird seed all the time for my home feeders so it’s something I regularly buy and find use for. I’m simply wondering how useful it could be in a truely emergency situation, as I wonder if I could eat it (?), or potentially find some other use for it.

Burdseed plus a net equals emergency protein. (The same with a loaf of bread if you live near seagulls.)

Birds, being able to fly, aren’t nearly as impacted by missing bridges or unpassable roads after an earthquakel not sure you need to be as worried about wildlife not having access to eat that you might. As @Darren_Garrison ninja’d response, it could be used to get them closer to you. If the world is in that bad of a shape, you’d probably not need to worry about getting caught but check your state’s laws on baiting animals. I know my state has prohibitions on baiting land-based ones (deer, elk, bears, etc) but not sure about the flying kind.

I only see it being useful in the following conditions:

  • you have birds you own that need to be fed (pets, laying chickens, eatin’ chickens, ducks, etc.)

  • as noted, as a means of attracting additional protein (check local, state, and Federal regulations before trying that, unless of course none of the above exist after your hypothetical emergency).

  • if it’s really fresh (questionable if buying in large quantities cheap) it might be used for seed to grow plants, but that would be a long-term emergency

  • it could be used to provide additional traction under tires in slick/icy/snowy conditions but really cheap kitty litter would work just as well and might be cheaper.

Can you eat it? Millet and other grains found in birdseed have been used for human consumption for millennia. If nothing else, millet can be cooked to a gruel, and would be healthier than highly-sweetened breakfast cereals.

I often thought of trying to make a loaf of “whole grain” bread with some birdseed. But I was wary that “commercial” birdseed might have more grit or other contaminants than anyone would want. (One garden store near me actually advertises that their seed is fit for human consumption.)

As for using it to attract and capture birds - how would you know those birds haven’t been feeding on a field recently sprayed with weed killer? I believe this is one reason authorities discourage hunting geese who have taken over golf courses.

Fun fact:
A roadrunner’s top speed - 26 MPH
Coyote’s average pursuit speed - 43 MPH

We’ve been lied to!

On four legs, sure, but Wile E. always insisted on running bipedally, which slowed him down by at least half.

When society collapses will your bird-feeder attract vegetarian zombies?

And if so are they a threat?

Only if you’re an ear of corn.

I don’t think I’d trust sea gulls not to taste like sludge. If you’re interested, here’s a tip. You can find lots of sea gulls at your local landfill.

What you should check into is additives that are good for birds but not so good for humans. This is especially true with bird seed where a human would be eating a much larger amount per day than a bird would.

I don’t know anything specific about bird seed but cat food is a good example of this. I have seen a number of online articles that say a human can live off cat food in an ongoing emergency situation. Some even recommend stocking up on cat food as a cheap emergency ration.

But I found an article that said this is a very bad idea. Cats need Vitamin A and most cat foods add Vitamin A to their mix. Humans do not need the same amount of Vitamin A in their diet and would start experiencing health problems from overdosing on Vitamin A if they ate cat food on a daily basis. (Cat food can also be unhealthy for dogs if they eat it on an ongoing basis.)

I worry about contaminants, because the standards for bird seed are lower than for human food. But i mostly buy sunflower seeds for my bird feeder, and I’d certainly eat that before i starved. And it does keep pretty well.

I would guess vegetarian zombies only eat each other…

Back to bird seed though. I was able to get all the things I needed during the pandemic, but it might’ve been nice to have supplies on hand for things I enjoyed but that didn’t feel important enough to risk a trip to the store. If you like watching the birds at your feeder, having a large stash on hand could keep you from dying of boredom during the next sub-apocalyptic lockdown.

Back when I kept budgies, I tried milling and cooking some of the seed mix (which was various millets, oat groats and a few other things), as well as the same thing with just some plain millet. It had a really pervasive ‘raw grain’ flavour that did not seem to go away with any amount of cooking. I know millet is eaten by humans, but maybe there was something about the storage of this stuff, or maybe people who eat millet just get used to the flavour.

Although in absolute amounts humans eat more, in proportion to body mass birds are the bigger eaters. Nonetheless, birds can eat things humans shouldn’t and vice versa. One of the things bird seed has that seed intended for humans does not is seed hulls. There are seeds that humans can’t really digest unless hulled first (like millet, a large component of many birdseed mixes). So, sure, you can eat it but it won’t do you any good. Unless you want to peel all those seeds before eating them. That’s what the birds do, but their beaks and mouths are adapted to do that with relative ease, even for tiny seeds. We’re a bit more awkward about it.

Another thing is that sometimes capsaicin is added to wild bird food to discourage mammal seed eaters like squirrels from eating it. It might discourage you from eating it as well.

Also - vermin control is not the same for food intended for animals as it is for humans. So there may be rodent feces, bug parts, bug eggs, bugs… etc.

Food for dogs and cats also tend to lack vitamin C because most animals (other that us, the great apes, and guinea pigs) can make their own so there’s no need to add it. If you tried to live on dog or cat food you’d eventually wind up with scurvy.

And that’s a thing - risking issues with pet food (or wild bird food) might be preferable to actual starvation. But that’s a pretty dire situation that I hope none of us reading this will face.

I cook and eat millet - millet intended for people cooks up just fine, like any other grain. Not sure what was going on with what you were eating? Maybe you still had seed hulls in it?

I am remembering in Seven Samurai where Katsushirō, the young guy, is telling Shino, his new girlfriend, that he’d found the villagers were eating millet so the Seven could have rice. He’d sampled it for the first time in his life and, “It was awful.”

When we buy bulk seed for our feathered companions, we put it in the freezer for a few days to kill any bugs or weevils and their eggs.