Are Sunflower Seeds Bad For Birds?

Sunflower seeds provide great nutritional value to birds if they’re raw and unroasted. However, roasted and processed sunflower seeds contain a lot of sodium and additives that are harmful to a bird’s health. Make sure you only give birds raw sunflower seeds.

If you have a pet bird or a bird feeder in your backyard, you may have wondered what human snacks are enjoyable and safe for birds to consume.

Sunflower seeds are one of the most common foods humans eat and are one of the most popular additions to backyard bird feeders.

But are sunflower seeds healthy for birds? If so, what nutritional value do they hold that would benefit a bird?

Why Birds Like Sunflower Seeds

Sunflower seeds contain up to 24% protein and 50% oil, which provides both humans and birds plenty of energy.

The fatty oil in sunflower seeds can help keep birds’ feathers shiny. They help birds consume the extra calories they need as colder seasons approach. Around a dozen vitamins and minerals are found in sunflower seeds, including calcium (important for eggshells and bones), zinc, and potassium.

Two types of seeds come from sunflowers

1) Black oil seeds (pure black)
2) Helianthus Annuus (marked with stripes)

Although both are safe for birds, black oil seeds attract several more bird species. The bird will crack the seed open with its beak or against something tough, like a rock or tree, and discard the hull.

How to Feed Sunflower Seeds to Wild Birds

If you want to attract more birds to your yard, sunflower seeds are a surefire way to make that happen.

You’ll most likely notice an influx of birds with cone-shaped beaks like cardinals and finches. Their beaks are perfectly designed to crack open sunflower seeds.

If you only have space for one bird feeder, black oil sunflower seeds will be the best option.

You can spread the seeds across the ground or in a tube or tray feeder. They are easy to find in any feed store or even a grocery store.

Striped sunflower seeds are a hearty choice, but the shells are harder to crack. Some birds won’t be able to get them open. As a bird grows into adulthood and develops more instincts, it will know whether to crack the seed with its beak or knock it against a rock or tree.

Another way some people choose to feed sunflower seeds to birds is by planting sunflowers directly in their yard.

For this option, you’d need to water the sunflowers once or twice per day, depending on the weather in your area. Once the seeds are ripe, the sunflowers will turn downward. This is definitely more work than just spreading the seeds around your lawn, but perfect for someone who enjoys gardening.

Birds will come no matter how you decide to display sunflower seeds to them. However, you need to know that young birds won’t fully understand that they must crack them open before eating and could end up choking on the seeds.

How to Choose Sunflower Seeds for Your Bird Feeder

To attract the most birds, opt for the black oil sunflower seeds. Make sure there’s also a fresh source of water nearby to ensure the birds in your backyard are happy and healthy.

Also, be sure the seeds aren’t spoiled or rotten. Once seeds begin to rot, they can be toxic for birds and possibly cause them to fall ill.

While sunflower seeds are healthy for birds, it’s important to remember that too much of them can have the opposite effect. Do not exclusively feed birds sunflower seeds. Have a variety of seeds and bird food. Also, wash and alternate bird feeders regularly. Aim to wash a feeder once a month.

Sunflower seeds are a favorite among many birds, which is why they’re often used in bird feeders. If you choose to place sunflower seeds in a bird feeder, you are likely to encounter blackbirds, finches, starlings, goldfinches, and various doves and cardinals.

Nutrients in Sunflower Seeds

We know birds enjoy sunflower seeds for their taste. We also know that sunflower seeds have some nutritional value, but let’s talk about specific reasons sunflower seeds are good for birds.

Sunflower seeds contain around 25% fiber, 24% protein, and 28% fat. They also have calcium, vitamin B, E, iron, and potassium. These vitamins and minerals are vital to keeping birds in great physical health.

Sunflower seeds are considered a superfood, as their nutrients help strengthen a bird’s immune system. Sunflower seeds are packed with protein and minerals that help build immune cells and strengthen their feathers.

Sunflower seeds are good for birds and have many health benefits. This superfood contains vital nutrients and attracts a wide variety of birds, which means you might see new bird species coming to your backyard.

You can spread sunflower seeds over the ground or in bird feeders. If you choose to use a feeder, be sure to clean it regularly.

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