Oct 2, 2014 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, October 2014

Don't Throw Away Your Pumpkin Seeds!

When you scrape out your pumkins this fall, do the birds a favor—save the seeds and add them to your feeder offerings!
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As you scrape out pumpkin guts for a pie or jack-o'-lantern, don't throw away the seeds! Don't even compost them! Squash seeds of any sort, including pumpkins, are a high protein treat for birds.

First, wash the seeds, removing most of the pulp. If you don't intend to store the seeds, and plan to offer them all at once, just spread them out on the ground or on a platform during dry weather, so they don't rot. If you do want to store them, it's best to boil them for 10 minutes, then spread them out on a cookie sheet or two to minimize overlapping. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes, turning several times, until they're slightly darker in color. Store in an airtight plastic bag or jar. Don't salt them unless you intend to eat them yourself!

Only birds with strong bills, such as cardinals, grosbeaks, jays, and titmice, can crack the hulls, but they'll relish what's inside!

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  • Scrub Jay's are the best!!!
    by Iris Delgado, Thu, 09 May 2019
  • How can I separate nyler seeds from hulls finshes kick out? They toss out so much expensive seed along with the hulls of the seeds they have eaten. How can I separate them so I can return the still whole seeds back into the feeder?
    by Seen From Here, Sat, 04 May 2019
  • We had some cases of what I think was avian trichomonosis here this summer in central NY. Are you hearing anything about that? My understanding is that even the hawks can get it from consuming infected song birds.
    by D.Mac, Sat, 04 May 2019
  • I have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019