Pumpkin seeds a treat for some

By Karen Klinka Published: October 27, 2000
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As you carve your Halloween pumpkin, save the seeds and use them to help feed the birds, some members of local bird-watching clubs say.

Pumpkin seeds scooped out of a potential jack-o-lantern can be rinsed off, dried and used as a tasty treat for wild birds, said Kathleen Lyons, an avid bird watcher and newsletter editor for the Audubon Society of Central Oklahoma.

Lyons included that advice in the chapter's October newsletter.

"Normally, I save pumpkin seeds for when the weather gets really cold and the birds are desperate for extra food to keep warm," Lyons said. "I usually sprinkle the seeds right on the ground, or on top of the snow."

Lyons contends cardinals, grosbeaks and blue jays will readily eat pumpkin seeds.

Neil Garrison, a naturalist at Martin Park Nature Center in north Oklahoma City, agrees pumpkin seeds can be fed to birds.

But he doubts many species will choose them over more familiar and palatable treats, like black oil sunflower seeds, thistle seeds or seasonal wild berries.

"The big problem is pumpkin seeds have pretty tough shells," said Garrison, who's also president of the Central Oklahoma Audubon club.

Garrison suggested putting the pumpkin seeds in a blender for a few seconds after they've been dried.

"That might break them up enough so the kernels, or meat, of the pumpkin seeds are more accessible for the birds to eat," he added.

Garrison says putting out pumpkin seeds might interest children in feeding the birds.

"It worth a try," he said. "But don't have unrealistic expectations if you put them out side by side with some black oil sunflower seeds. The birds just love those."

That's also the opinion of Mark Howery, a wildlife density biologist with the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Howery experimented with pumpkin seeds as a source of food for wild birds years ago.

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