What do Birds Eat ? Guide to Choose the Right Food for Birds

What do Birds Eat ?

What do Birds Eat ? Deciding to feed birds might be confusing. The foods required for many kinds of birds are different as every bird has its own characteristics. Inappropriate food can cause lack of vitamins in minerals consisted in the birds’ food.

This may lead to a serious health problem for them. They don’t only need the food they love; it also has to be nutritious as well.

However, what do birds eat should not be expensive! If you are deciding what to give to your birds, try giving one of these options below.

1. Fruits

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Fruits are good for birds like robins, woodpeckers, bluebirds, and lovebirds. They are full of taste and content the nutritional value.

Fruits are a source of vitamins and easy to be found. You may choose bananas, papaya, mango, cantaloupe, or apples for your feathery friend. Scatter sliced bananas, apples, and papayas on a tray to feed them.

Besides fresh fruit, fruit jellies without additional sweetener are recommended. The fruit jellies can be a special treat for birds. Remove the leftovers food two hours after serving to prevent the growth of bacteria inside your birds’ cage.

 

2. Beans

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One of the best vegetable protein sources is beans. They have fiber to keep your birds’ digestive system running well. Boil several kinds of beans without seasoning.

Let the boiled beans to cool and serve to your birds. Never serve raw and unwashed beans to your beans as they contain toxic.

3. Corn

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Corn contains high carbohydrate and fat, but low in protein. Corn is tricky but many birds such as doves and woodpeckers enjoy it. Give minimal amounts of corn at a time so that the corn always be given fresh.

Avoid giving popcorn and plant-grade corn as it is unhealthy and harmful while corn graded for planting contains toxic from fungicides and pesticides.

Never buy corn in a plastic bag and keep the corn always dry. Store the corn in dry weather and remove the old corn frequently.

4. Vegetables

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In birds’ natural habitats, variety of vegetables is their daily meals. So, not a myth if the fresh vegetables are good for birds.

Try giving your pet some washed and rinsed cauliflower and broccoli. Next time, you can feed the birds with carrots, root vegetables, peas, and kale.

5. Nuts

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Nuts are tasty and healthy for your bird. Many birds love nuts as special treats. As natural source food, birds need the nuts as a toy. They will spend time to pry the nutshells open to exercise their jaw and beak.

It is amusing to watch they play with the nuts. If they cannot open it, give them a hand and assist in cracking the nuts. Make sure you serve only clean, dry, and unsalted nuts.

Store the nuts inside a freezer to preserve freshness. Nuts are rich with protein and fats which is valuable for birds all year round. Nuts such as walnuts, almonds, peanuts, and pecans also a source of energy for birds.

Nuts are cheaper than sunflower seeds. Squirrel and chipmunks like nuts too, so, feeders for nut must be away from their range.

6. Sunflower Seed

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Sunflower seeds have an easy-to-crack shell and thin shape. They can be fed by tube, platform, and hopper feeder. The seeds contain high fat which gives bird energy and warmness, especially in the winter.

For widest appeal, choose black-oil sunflower seeds. The black-oil seeds are one of the best wild bird foods. The seeds also contain protein and fat.

Striped sunflower seeds have a large and thick shell, so, only birds with tough beak and jaws like jays, woodpeckers, and finches can crack the seeds and eat them. For recommendation, sunflower seeds kernels are ideal for birds.

7. Safflower Seed

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Safflower seeds are the seeds of safflower plant, Carthamus tinctorius that originally grow in Mediterania. The seeds are slightly smaller than sunflower seeds. Their white seeds are full of high protein, fat, and fiber. The birds that eat safflower seeds are doves, finches, jays, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, and titmice.

The seeds have a bitter flavor, so it is ideal to give as additional treats for your birds. This favorite treats can be offered in hopper feeders or on tray feeders. Don’t worry about chipmunks and squirrel because they usually avoid eating safflower seeds.

8. Millet

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Are you looking for cheap and nutritious birds’ food? You may take millet as a choice. Millet is a tiny grain which can be an alternative to sunflower and safflower seed. The grain is a great option for birders that have several varieties such as golden, white, red, and Japanese.

Millets are suitable for ground-feeding doves, sparrows, and waterfowl. These species usually prefer the white millet than the others. One of millet’s benefit is easy to crack although its coat hard enough to resist.

9. Nectar

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Hummingbirds have to consume nectar to complete their need for calories. It is easy to provide nectar for hummingbirds. Boil water and sugar at a ratio 4 parts water to 1 part sugar.

The nectar can be kept for up to a couple of weeks in the refrigerator. Never add any food coloring, brown sugar, honey, and sugar substitutes because they are harmful to hummers.

10. Mealworms

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Mealworms are the best choice for attracting birds like bluebirds. The bird food is also suitable for insect-eater birds. Mealworms are very easy to store and use.

Provide mealworms in hanging feeders or window feeders and mix with seed. You can give both dried and live mealworms to birds. Dried mealworms can be offered straight or mixed with seeds or nuts.

Insects are a part of birds’ diet and you may give them as a supplement to the birds. Mealworms are full of energy and protein and can be provided to birds throughout the year.

Mealworms are the larva of the mealworm beetle, native to Europe but it can found anywhere now. They have measured about 2.5cm in length and a golden-yellow color. Mealworms are ideal for Blackcap, Dunnock, Robin, Sparrow, and Blackbird.

What do birds eat is not so different with what do cats eat. Food is a basic necessity for birds besides home and water.

Like humans, they have different preferences for certain foods types. So, make sure to focus on foods preferred by birds before put any food in the feeders.

What do Baby Birds Eat?

Feeding baby birds is more difficult than feeding the adult ones. Do not attempt feeding a baby bird if you do not have the knowledge to do it.

You can provide a container full of water and place it next to the bird but never force it to drink. Furthermore, do not feed baby birds with seed or food usually the adults eat.

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In case you find a baby bird or the adults stop feeding the baby and considering feed it, you should learn more about what do birds eat and how to feed the bird. The first thing you should know is what species of bird you found and what the adult birds would be feed it.

Then, identify what type of food the chick needs to survive. For example, robins do not have the same diet as pigeons. You can identify what diet it needs by the shape of its beak.

If your baby bird has thin, straight, and elongated beak, it probably eats insects. If the baby bird’s beak is short and conical shape, it might eat seeds.

One of the animal foods you can feed to the baby is cat food. Soaked cat food mixed with boiled egg and breadcrumbs is safe to the baby bird.

For baby birds, there are some choices of high-protein food you can provide like crickets, mealworm, soaked dry cat food, or earthworm.

The baby birds are still growing in size and feather, so they need more protein. Do not give wet bread, tofu, seed, or milk to baby birds.

For baby pigeon, there is a sample formula you can feed to them. You can provide by ratio 1 part of cornmeal and 1 part of seed like millet and milo; add soybean milk and apple juice.

Ground bird seed using a coffee grinder, then add the soybean milk and little bit of apple juice. The mixture provided calories, protein, and vitamins for the birds.

After providing food for the chick, it is important to introduce the food to it. You need to make the bird open its mouth when it sees you like it see the parent in natural life. The babies are small and fragile, so, be careful to treat and feed them.

Professional breeders or rehabilitators usually use a tube feed to feed the baby birds. They make their blended mixture for them, so, it is not as simple as you may think. The professional suggests using a special blender to make it. Do not use the same blender you use in your kitchen.

A special tube feeding for a bird is the best equipment to feed. It is also safe for the bird’s jaw. But, if you do not have the tube, you can use a large eye-dropper and syringe.

Bird chicks depend on a parent to survive. The chicks will open their beaks when the parent feed them, so it can deposit food into their throat.

Feeding baby of wild bird can make them imprinting to human. If they imprinted on human, they would lose a chance of living in a natural, like the others.

Some Ways to Feed the Birds

Knowing what do birds eat is not enough to attract wild birds. You may need extra knowledge about how to feed them start from deciding the proper feeder.

There are several ways to feed birds in your garden from bird tables to hanging feeders that you can make yourself or buy at low price.

1. Bird Tables

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Bird tables are suitable to place outdoor. They are proper for most birds’ food and many bird species. Use a simple tray with or without a roof. Add a raised rim to retain the food. Make a gap at each corner to ease clean away uneaten food.

2. Feeders

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Feeders help you attracting birds by fill the seeds and peanuts inside. Hanging up feeders will make the birds come to eat because seeds and peanuts are eaten by a large number of bird species. Feeders are available in many different types, materials, and sizes. You may choose metal or plastic feeder and small or big ones. Some feeders even have a special feature to protect from large birds and squirrels.

If you are not sure how to choose the right feeder, you should follow this guidance:

  • For peanut, you should use a steel mesh. The mesh size should not too small or too large to prevent beak damage or large pieces of nut spill out. The mesh ideal size is about 6 mm.
  • For seeds, you need tubular transparent containers with holes. The holes enable birds to access the seed. Tubular containers are designed for seed mixes and sunflower seed.
  • For cereal-based mixes, you can pick a hopper type feeder with trays. It is also suitable for providing a seed mix. Make sure that all trays drain easily and always be cleaned up from uneaten food.
  • For bird cake, seed mixes, and mealworms, you can provide in home-made feeders. Hanging half coconut shell or plastic cup from a tree or mount them on a wall is not a bad idea.

Besides those two ways to feed birds in the backyard, you can do the other ways. Pigeons and doves usually prefer to feed on the ground. That is not a weird fact about animal, but just their habit. Scatter food on a ground feeding tray to feed them. Do not forget to change the area you scatter the food over every few days and change food every day to avoid vermin.

If you put food on the ground, space it out in some points in the garden to reduce competition between birds. Remember to clean up the area before scattering food like corn and grains or fruits.

The last way to feed the backyard birds is filling the holes and cracks of a log with seeds or nuts. It is suitable to feed the agile birds like Nuthatch, Woodpecker, and Tit. Avoid feeding the birds from mesh bags because they can cause birds trap inside and break their legs or torn off their feet.

What do birds eat and how do you feed them can affect their health. So, make a plan of feeding the birds before decide to keep them as your friend.