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What Do Birds Eat?

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Birds are fantastic animals.  These animals belong to the Aves class and they are identified by feathers, toothless beaks, a strong and lightweight skeleton, and the fact that they all lay hard-shelled eggs.  It is great fun to watch these birds interact with one another, soar through the sky, take cool baths in water puddles, or listen to their beautiful songs.

There are over 18,000 species of bird identified in the word which include various orders.  There are 40 different types of birds.  They are classed in these different categories based on their habitat and feeding requirements.

Some bird species are carnivore animals, some are herbivores, some are insectivores, some are omnivores, and some only feed on seeds.  Some species can fly, others cannot.  Some bird species are semi-aquatic and others only dwell on land.

If you are keeping a bird as a pet, you should do proper research on the feeding requirements of your bird because offering the wrong food can be fatal to your pet.

What Do Birds Eat?

The diet of birds differs based on their species and type.  A food that is edible to one species may very well be toxic to another.  It is very important to research the feeding requirements of birds before keeping them as pets or before offering them food in your garden.  Here is a quick look at the different food categories that birds can eat.

Small Animals

birds of prey such as eagles, hawks, buzzards, owls, and condors all hunt for smaller animals. These carnivore birds have superior eyesight and wings that are adapted for speed.  They hunt small animals such as rats, mice, rodents lizards, bunnies, and snakes.  Their sharp beaks and claws are ideal for capturing and feeding on these types of prey.

Aquatic Animals

Semi-aquatic birds such as penguins feed on aquatic animals such as fish and crustaceans.  birds that live close to waters such as seagulls also feed on fish, jellyfish, crustaceans, and other sea or freshwater animals they can find. Some birds of prey like hawks and eagles also enjoy hunting for fish to feed on.


Many bird species are insectivores and many birds of prey may also choose to feed on insects if small animals are unavailable.  Insectivore bird species such as larks, woodpeckers, bluebirds, finches, cardinals, and robins all love to catch and eat a variety of insect types such as beetles, worms, larvae, moths, caterpillars, centipedes, butterflies, and many other types of insects.

Other Birds

Some birds of prey will also hunt and feed on other bird species.  Hawks, eagles, and owls are all fond of hunting and killing smaller and slower bird species.  Hawks and eagles are even agile enough to capture other birds such as pigeons and sparrows in mid-flight.

Fruits And Vegetables

Herbivore bird species such as parrots, hornbills, emus, ostriches, cockatoos, and many others mainly feed plant matter.  They will eat all sorts of fruits such as peaches, pears, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, apples, and also dried fruits or wild fruits.  Many birds also enjoy eating veggies such as leafy greens, asparagus, beets, bell peppers, broccoli, butternut, carrots, corn, and cob.

Some bird species that eat fruits and vegetables may be omnivores and may also feed on insects.  Robins and finches are good examples.

Plant Matter

Many herbivores and omnivore bird species may also feed on plant matter.  Hummingbirds, for example, consume pollen and nectar.  Parrots and sparrows may consume grassy greens or soft green leaves.

Nuts And Seeds

Some bird species also prefer to eat seeds and nuts in addition to fruits and vegetables.  They may consume various types of nuts and seeds such as sunflower seeds, grain, corn, spelled, almonds, and a great many other types of seeds.


birds do need a lot of water to stay hydrated.  Without enough water, their digestive systems won’t function properly.  Some bird species also enjoy bathing to keep their feathers clean and oil-free or to cool down on hot summer days.  It is very important to ensure that your birds have enough to drink when they are visiting y our garden or when you keep them as pets.


Some bird species do not hunt animals but still mainly consume meat.  Scavenging bird species like vultures and condors seek out carcasses to feed on the flesh and bones of dead animals.  These animals can consume larger prey species such as cows, deer, goats, and anything else that is dead including human flesh.

How to Feed Birds

To feed a pet bird or birds in your garden, you should first ensure that it has plenty of freshwaters.  All bird species need water to survive.  Most species also enjoy an occasional soak in a birdbath and all birds are fond of playing in the sprinklers or rain.

Next, you need to determine the species of bird you have.  They all have different diets and you need to find out exactly what your bird’s nutritional needs are.

Once you have determined the type of food your bird enjoys eating, it is important to establish a proper feeding schedule and to offer a variety of all foods that they can eat so your bird can get all the nutrients it needs to survive.

What do Birds Eat in the Wild?

In the wild, birds will seek out appropriate foods that suit their dietary needs.  birds of prey will hunt for smaller animals.  Seed eaters will seek out grass seeds to feed on or will visit crop farms.  Insect eaters also enjoy seeking outcrop farms to catch insects or they will focus on areas with lots of water.  Fruit-eating birds prefer tropical regions where lots of fruit trees grow naturally.

What do Birds Eat in Captivity?

In captivity, your bird can only consume the foods that you offer them.  birds usually only feed on food that suits their dietary needs.  If you offer herbivore bird meat, for example, it will soon starve to death.   In most cases, birds in captivity are kept on bird food mixes.  These food mixes usually contain a combination of fruits, vegetables, and seeds and are ideal for omnivore birds.  If you do however have an insectivore then you will need to buy insects such as mealworms and crickets to offer your pet bird.

What do Baby Birds Eat?

Baby birds are called hatchlings or chicks.  During their first few vulnerable weeks, they are fed by their parents.  Adult birds regurgitate foods back to the chicks.  For some bird species like the pigeon, this will be a primary feeding method until they leave the nest.  Other birds may start to offer their young chicks larger pieces of food such as shreds of meat long before they can leave the nest.

When birds start leaving the nest, they are usually fully grown or almost fully grown and ready to consume all the same foods as adult birds.

How much do Birds Eat?

The amount of food a bird eats depends on its species.  Some consume much more food throughout the day to maintain a fast metabolic rate while others consume less considering their size because they have a slower metabolic rate.

As a rule of thumb, the average bird eats ¼ – ½ of its body weight every day.

How often do Birds Eat?

Most bird species will need to feed daily to stay full of energy.  birds of prey can go for a few days without food and may only feed twice a week.  But some bird species, like the hummingbird, need to constantly feed to maintain their fast metabolism or they will die.  These birds can feed all day long.

Do Birds Eat Rice?

Some bird species do eat rice and cereals.  Pigeons, doves, and pheasants are good examples of birds that can be cooked or even uncooked rice.

Do Birds Eat Tomatoes?

Many herbivore birds such as blackbirds, cowbirds, grackles, starlings, and others may eat tomatoes.  These birds usually also feed on various other fruits and vegetables and some may also consume seeds and nuts.

Do Birds Eat Snails?

Larger birds such as blue jays, crows, magpies, ravens, owls, and hawks all enjoy eating snails and have no trouble swallowing the shells.  Snails are a tasty food to many carnivores or insectivore bird species.

Do Birds Eat Bananas?

Bananas are a very good food source for many herbivore bird species that enjoy eating tropical fruits.  You can offer these birds fresh bananas or dried bananas as a treat.

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