Bird Seed Skyrockets

By Eric Shangraw

July 15, 2010 Updated Dec 14, 2007 at 9:05 PM CDT

After salt to melt the ice, the second hottest product at the local hardware store this week has been birdseed.

The cost of birdseed has skyrocketed this yea but customers are still buying it.

Bert Princen is a lifelong bird watcher. He goes through 850 pounds of birdseed each winter, feeding the twenty different species that come to dine in his back yard. Princen is especially vigilant in filling his feeders after an ice storm like the one we had this week.

"They starve very rapidly if they don't eat constantly. They have to get that fat and carbohydrates in there to keep that little engine burning. They're body temperature is high. It is higher than ours. We save a lot of birds that would not make it through the winter otherwise. And that does a lot of good in the Spring when they can procreate," said Princen.

It has been a week of booming birdseed sales at Kelly Seed in downtown Peoria.

The bird lovers are buying sunflower seeds, cracked corn and white millet, all mixed together, despite the fact the cost has gone up between thirty and fifty percent in the last year.

Why the price jumps? Sunflower seed farmers devoted more land to corn with corn prices on the rise. It is simply a supply and demand equation.

"Frito Lay, the potato chip company, they actually are trying to get more heart–smart and decided to start using sunflower oil instead of other less healthy oils. So they are actually stealing away some of the birdseed business," said Nick Vespa at Kelly Seed.

Despite the price jump, Nick Vespa says there has been no slowdown in sales. He says the people who buy birdseed are some of the most devoted customers he has because they love to feed and see the birds.

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