What Do Birds Eat?

Birds eat the most available foods; hence, it is hard to list all the foods they consume. Whether you intend to keep a bird as a pet or attract these beautiful creatures to your environment, you will find all you need to know about the foods birds prefer in this article.

Typically, birds eat vegetables, seeds, nuts, fruits, insects, worms, carcasses, and many other items. However, several factors determine the kind of food every bird will eat.

Factors That Determine What A Bird Eats

Bird Eating Worms


The kind of nutrition that any bird needs is primarily dependent on its biological makeup. Hyperactive birds will always seek energy-rich food such as flower nectar. Also, many flesh-eating birds have simple digestive structures and settle for small bugs, worms, and insects.

Larger flesh-eating birds possess strong, sharp beaks and talons to tear their prey into small bits.

The diets of most birds also depend on their natural abilities. Eagles and hawks rely on their exceptional vision to locate their prey. On the other hand, Vultures and Ravens use their excellent sense of smell to find dead carrion.


A bird’s size also influences the type of food it eats. Small herbivores will settle for little seeds and leave the harder nuts for bigger birds to crack. Also, many flesh-eating birds will never hunt any birds, reptiles, or rodents that are larger than them.


Some birds form relationships with other animals to get their food. For example, Cattle egrets will perch on large mammals like cows, buffalos, and rhinos and feed mainly on the ticks they remove from the bodies of these mammals.

Also, crows and ravens are known to move with wolf packs. These birds feed on the remaining flesh of wolves’ prey.


The food abundant in any region also affects what any bird eats. While birds flock to other areas with their preferred diets, they can adapt to naturally predominant food sources wherever they find themselves.


The season of the year affects the availability of many bird food. During the summer, bird food, such as small insects and flower nectar, is relatively abundant. Most birds are primarily nomads and do not store food and will move to warmer climes during the winter.

Classes of Birds According To Diet

While it is hard to limit birds to a particular type of food, it is possible to group them into two main classes based on their predominant diet.


Stubble Quail
Stubble Quails are herbivorous birds.

Herbivorous birds survive primarily on a plant-based diet. Among herbivores, birds can still be grouped into two subclasses; granivores and frugivores. Granivores depend mainly on seeds. At the same time, frugivorous birds feed mostly on fruits.


An Owl
Owls are carnivores

Most birds can feed on flesh. However, only a few are fully dependent on this type of food. Besides hunting live prey, birds, like vultures, feed on dead animals.

How Baby Birds Feed

Baby birds require a protein-rich diet to ensure their proper development, and their diet comprises mainly bugs, insect larvae, and worms. In larger predatory birds, newly hatched chicks are fed with the flesh of smaller animals.

Although baby birds eat the same food as their parents, their method of ingesting food is quite different. While adult birds pick up food with their beaks and swallow it directly, baby birds need to be fed with regurgitated food.

Adult birds will store food in their crops while they are out foraging. When they return to the nest, the adult will place its beak in the gullet of its young ones and bring up the food it has stored.

You must feed baby birds this way until they grow strong enough to forage. Also, baby birds’ digestive tracts are well-developed, so they cannot process the food adult birds eat. Hence, their food must first be partly digested by the adults.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do Baby Birds Feed Without Their Mothers?

Since baby birds depend solely on their mothers for nourishment, newly hatched chicks can’t survive alone.

If you find an abandoned chick, you would need to feed it yourself, and also, you would have to break the food into very tiny pieces. Use small pincers to drop the food directly into the baby bird’s gullet.

Can I Feed Birds With Milk?

Most birds are lactose intolerant, and giving them milk will result in stomach complications and diarrhea.

Also, milk is fatty and will build fat around the bird’s vital organs, and this development could lead to organ failure and fatal heart seizures. However, you can give your birds lactose-free milk from almonds or other suitable nuts. 

How Long Do Female Birds Feed Their Young Ones?

Most birds will feed their newly hatched chicks until they are four weeks old.

But not all birds fend for their young ones for this long. For some species, young birds are left to fend for themselves two weeks after they hatch. 

However, a handful of bird species are known to feed their young ones even months after they are hatched.

What Should I Not Feed Birds?

You can feed most of the food we eat to birds. However, there are a few things that you must avoid giving to birds. These food items include chocolate, coffee, avocado, salt, onions, garlic, and apple seeds. These items contain chemicals that might be harmful to birds.

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