The urge to share your food with your pets or even the wildlife around you can certainly prove to be a difficult thing to resist. Whether it's the love you have for your pets or your desire to make sure that cute little chickadee has a full stomach tonight, you might wonder what human foods are also safe for animals to eat. While we can safely share many of the foods we eat, such as fresh fruits or grains, a huge variety of our processed foods can have a negative impact on animals – domestic or otherwise.
Can You Feed Roasted Sunflower Seeds to Birds?
Can birds eat sunflower seeds? Yes! There are many species of birds that eat sunflower seeds. But does that mean you should share your tasty roasted sunflower seeds the next time you're strolling in the park? In short, no – you should keep your seeds to yourself.
Birds that eat sunflower seeds are bound to gobble up roasted sunflower seeds as well. However, eating roasted sunflower seeds potentially puts them in danger of consuming dangerously high amounts of sodium. A single ounce of roasted sunflower seeds can contain around 170 mg of sodium. Roasted sunflower seeds can also contain potentially dangerous preservatives.
Why Is Salt Bad for Birds?
Too much salt isn't good for anyone, including you! Generally, most creatures can eat small amounts of salt. In fact, salt is necessary in small amounts to the majority of animals. However, a small amount of salt to a human can be a deadly amount of salt for a tiny bird.
Large amounts of salt can impact a bird's electrolytes and hydration. In large amounts (which can mean tiny amounts to a very small bird) salt can cause dehydration and kidney failure. In severe cases, this can result in the bird's death.
Can Birds Eat Sunflower Seeds?
So birds shouldn't eat roasted sunflower seeds meant for human consumption, but can birds eat sunflower seeds otherwise? Of course! You should just choose sunflower seeds formulated for birds to eat, such as those developed specifically for birdseed blends. You can find two types of sunflower seeds commonly sold in stores for this purpose: black oil sunflower seeds and striped sunflower seeds. Additionally, many stores offer unshelled sunflower seeds to help reduce the mess around your birdfeeder.
What Birds Eat Sunflower Seeds?
Which birds eat sunflower seeds? You might be surprised to find that black oil sunflower seeds are one of the most popular in birdseed mixes because a wide variety of different birds love to eat them! Some of the different birds that eat sunflower seeds include cardinals, some woodpecker species, chickadees, finches and goldfinches, titmice, nuthatches and more.
To expand the number of birds at your birdfeeder, you can feed unshelled sunflower seeds. There are some additional species of birds that eat sunflower seeds but cannot break open the hard outer shell – like juncos, for example. By feeding unshelled sunflower seeds you can allow these birds to eat as well.
What Other Types of Seeds Do Birds Eat?
Sunflower seeds are far from the only option to fill your birdfeeder! Other common options to appease different bird species include safflower seeds, millet, thistle, unsalted peanuts and cracked corn. Some of these options also work well for birds other than wild birds at your backyard birdfeeder.
You can also use unsalted peanuts and unshelled sunflower seeds for chickens or even parrots and other pet birds. Unless you use the seeds or nuts in specific amounts as part of a veterinarian-recommended diet, you should always feed in moderation to keep your bird from gaining too much weight, as they can have a high fat content.
- Eat This Much: Dry Roasted Sunflower Seeds Nutrition Facts
- ZuPreem: Toxic Foods Your Bird Should Never Eat
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology: Feeding Birds: A Quick Guide To Seed Types
- Wild Bird Watching: Types of Wild Bird Seed Which are Best?
- Georgia Department of Natural Resources - Wildlife Resources Division: Out My Backdoor: The Best Seeds for Backyard Birdfeeders
About the Author
Marina Somma is a freelance writer and animal trainer. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Marine and Environmental Biology & Policy from Monmouth University. Marina has worked with a number of publications involving animal science, behavior and training, including animals.net, SmallDogsAcademy and more.