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Wild Bird Crossing of Sturbridge
(Rte 20 & Cedar St Intersection)
4 Cedar Street
Sturbridge, Massachussetts
508 347-BIRD
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Ellen Korman
Eyes on Nature News
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Current Features:
The Economics of Bird Seed
Bill Goes to the Mill
Bill and Friends      
      
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Bird-A-Thon 2002 Water with Care
Birds in Battle
Through the Looking Glass Birdscaping Your Yard
Myths About Migration
      
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All About Birdseed
The Economics of Bird Seed
With the stock market on a roller coaster, terrorists, fires, and droughts in the news, we thought that the educated consumer might find some relief in a birdseed update.
If you're like most of us, you've spent a lot more of your free time over the past year sticking closer to home, and maybe improving your gardens, water ponds and feeding stations. But when it comes to filling all those feeders, you may be surprised to see the price of seed on the rise.

The reason behind the impending increase is simple economics: the law of supply and demand. Birdseed has become more in demand, and unfortunately the supply is not keeping up due to a number of factors.

Here at Wild Bird Crossing, we want to keep you as informed as possible about the price of seed. Birdseed, from Black Oil seed to Millet, is a commodity, and this year there is going to be a short crop-- which means that prices are on the rise. We are receiving weekly updates from our seed vendors and we want to pass this information along to you.

Demand was very high for Nyjer (thistle) seed in late May and early June. Nyjer seed comes from overseas and must be sterilized prior to entry into the US. The sterilizing plants got behind schedule this spring because seed shipments were delayed--due to the problems with the potential for war between India and Pakistan. It was also reported that Ethiopia had cornered the market on Nyjer seed futures, and are now defaulting on delivery. Prices of Nyjer seed have already risen.

Black Oil seed had quite an excess of stock in previous years, but that excess is finally being depleted. There is a strong demand for Black Oil seed, and stronger than expected export sales. With demand high and farmers keeping a close reign on their inventory as they hold out for higher prices, it is anticipated that the price of Black Oil will double, or there will be shortages.

Millet stocks have also been depleted. Between the drought and the fires, no one is planting. This could change, but even if Millet is planted the majority of the crop will be set aside as forage for livestock, due to a shortage in pastures and hay crops.

Safflower yields were extremely low last season, so the old crop is already in short supply. The new crop is off because the dry weather has caused widespread delays in planting.

The latest update we have is that the seed market has gone absolutely nuts (no pun intended). Millet prices have increased 50%, and Black Oil seed has more than doubled at the broker level! Keep in mind that Black Oil Sunflower is not grown for birdseed, but for oil, and the crushers will be outbidding everyone for the limited supply. When the crop is good, excess Black Oil is sold directly for birdseed, but the word on the street is that there may not be enough seed to last the year.

Price increases are passed on to us by our suppliers. We have always tried to keep our prices reasonable and will only adjust prices when we must. A lot of you may wonder why the bigger chain stores don't increase their prices as often as smaller stores like Wild Bird Crossing. The reason is that the larger chains will buy based on pricing set by the distributors in September or October of each year. Then the seed is bagged and sent to a central warehouse for the chain. The seed will sit in the warehouse until needed to replenish the stock on the chain store's shelves--meaning the seed you buy could have been sitting all year in the warehouse!

Because we are a smaller store, we bring in up to 10,000 pounds of seed every two weeks. This means that our stock is always fresh and rotated. The distributors bag and package seed for shipment out to smaller stores like us on a weekly basis. The seed does not sit in a bag for months, getting musty, because it is continually shipped, unloaded, brought into the store and then back out the door on its way to your bird feeder.

Many of you have been inquiring about our annual seed sale. Unfortunately, we may not be able to hold our sale this year as we had planned. We are dependent on the availability of quantities of seed that the local vendor may not be able to deliver. As it stands now it does not look promising.

So, what can you do? The distributors are estimating that Sunflower Chips may not be as much of an issue as they are byproducts of seed precessing. Wild Bird Crossing has always carried Sunflower Chips, and many of you have converted to them over the years as they are less messy in the yard. If you aren't already using them, this may be the year to give them a try. The distributors will also be working hard to come up with seed mixes to keep the price down. We will keep you informed of any new mixes or changes to the current mixes that we carry. How about suet? If you don't have a suet feeder you may want to consider one. Suet gives an added station where the birds can feed, and may make your seed go a little farther.

Nancy



Bill Goes to the Mill.

 Nancy made me stand hereDid you ever wonder how all that birdseed ends up at Wild Bird Crossing? Well, here's a behind-the-scenes look at where it comes from.

Wild Bird Crossing brings in approximately 10,000 pounds of seed every two weeks. Some of the seed is shipped from Meyer and Son in Pennsylvania and comes to us on a trailer truck. The pallets of seed are off-loaded from the truck and hand carried into the store by the staff. (Who needs a gym when there's birdseed to carry in!) We also have a local seed distributor that delivers, picking up seed at the milland sometimes we make a trip right to the mill to pick up the seed. New England Wild Bird Food is located along the railroad line in Deerfield, MA. The seed is delivered to them in bulk by railcar and is bagged and palletized there for shipment.Bill lost in the warehouse

Every couple of weeks Bill makes a trip to the mill to pick up some of our seed. Occaisionally one of our vendors is out of stock on a certain type of seed and we will have to bring in a larger load from the mill.

When this happens we rent an 18 foot box truck and pick up four or five pallets of seed from New England Wild Bird Food. Of course the same thing happens whether we get the seed delivered or we pick it up ourselves--the seed has to get hand carried into the store and stacked! Over the course of a year if our average order is 5,000 pounds of seed per week, the staff has moved over 260,000 pounds of seed into the store and that same amount back out again!

When you look at it that way, That's A Lot of Bird Seed!