Do Birds Eat Beans? [& How to Prepare Them]

Birds should not consume beans if they are uncooked. However, birds can eat a large variety of cooked beans. Uncooked beans contain hemagglutinin, a carbohydrate-binding protein that is toxic to birds. Cooking the beans removes hemagglutinin.

Birds need a well-balanced diet to ensure they receive the proper nutrition. Solely using bird seed can make birds overweight and be deficient in other vitamins. Cooked beans are a safe and healthy alternative to add variety to your bird’s diet.

How Beans Are Beneficial to Birds

The benefits of beans for your bird include reducing cholesterol and fat, improving gut health, and reducing blood sugar levels.

Beans are naturally low in fat and sodium and contain nutrients including protein, carbohydrates, iron, and fiber, which can add to your bird’s well-being.

If your bird has dull feathers or is overweight, adding beans to its diet can help add luster to its plumage and lower its weight to a healthier level.

Nutrients Added Through Beans

Beans have a high protein and carbohydrate content, with about one part protein and three parts carbohydrates. Beans have iron, potassium, folate, magnesium, and fiber.

Potassium can help manage blood pressure levels. Iron and other minerals, such as folate (B6), are essential in keeping your bird healthy. Complex carbohydrates, or dietary starch, are made of several sugar molecules bound together. These complex sugars are non-digestible fibers that are broken down in your bird’s gut by good bacteria.

The soluble fibers in beans trap dietary cholesterol in the digestive tract, which decreases the amount of bad cholesterol absorbed.

Insoluble fibers bind water to stool and help your bird from becoming constipated and keeping its digestive system free from complications.

Variety and Foraging Habits

It is important to offer your birds a variety of foods to encourage good health and creativity. While beans themselves may not entice foraging behavior in your birds, placing them in a covered bowl can stimulate them into looking for food.

Some birds enjoy peeling the outer hull of beans. Birds can grow accustomed to the same diet and can fear different foods. Try to add a few beans mixed in with their normal diet and gradually increase the amount. Beans should account for about 15 percent of their entire diet.

Aiding in Illness

Birds that are fed a seed only diet will experience high cholesterol, obesity, and a lack of vitamins and minerals. Offering beans can help reverse this damage by lowering cholesterol and providing more vitamins to your bird’s diet.

Birds that are constipated or have other digestive issues can find relief after eating cooked legumes. Liver disease and high sugar levels can be aided with the high fiber content beans.

Types of Beans

There are quite a few beans you can offer your birds. Lentils, garbanzos, white beans, cranberry beans, black beans, kidney beans, and pinto beans.

Look for organic beans with a smooth outer appearance instead of wrinkly. Small beans are easier to feed to smaller beaked birds, but all beans can be cut into smaller sizes to make it easier and safer for your bird to eat.

Easily Digested Beans

You’ll want to pick legumes that will be the most easily digested by your bird, especially if you are introducing them into their diet.

Foods that are hard on the digestive system can have the opposite effect of what you are trying to accomplish. They may even reduce the absorption of nutrients by causing an upset stomach and gas.

To introduce beans to your bird, try an easier to digest bean such as mung beans, garbanzos, or lentils. The harder beans to digest are larger beans like pinto beans and kidney beans. Kidney beans are also high in hemagglutinin when uncooked, so be sure to cook them thoroughly.

Preparation Tips

To ensure the beans you give your bird are properly prepared, start by cleaning the beans, sorting through and picking out any that are wrinkled, broken, or bad.

Rinse them out in cool water and soak for 24 hours. Pick out the beans that float to the top. These will not cook thoroughly.

Strain the beans before cooking, either on a stovetop or pressure cooker. Beans should be soft before cooking.

Refrain from using any spices or flavoring. Cooking them plain is the best choice for birds. You will cook them from 45 minutes to two hours, depending on the type of bean. To check if they cooked well, the beans should be soft and mushy after you press your finger down on them.

Which Beans to Avoid

All beans are safe for birds as long as they are soaked and completely cooked. Large raw beans such as black, kidney, lima, and pinto can cause toxicities when fed raw, causing digestive upsets for birds.

It is recommended that large beans be cooked completely to make them digestible. Soaking beans for 24 hours starts the germination process and makes the beans safer and easier on your bird’s tummy.

Some uncooked dried beans contain enzyme inhibitors, are indigestible, and may cause visceral gout and nutritional deficiencies. Beans that can interfere with your bird’s digestive enzymes are lima, kidney, and soybeans.

Cooking these beans for at least 2 hours destroys these enzyme inhibitors. Although other dried beans do not have high concentrations of these enzyme inhibitors, it is safer to simply cook all varieties of beans.

Monitoring Change in Diet

Changing your bird’s diet can be challenging and require a lot of patience. Birds are creatures of habit and can be suspicious of new foods, not even recognizing them as something to eat.

Starting off with small amounts mixed in with their regular foods and gradually increasing the number of beans is a good way to slowly introduce your bird to a new food.

It is also important to watch their weight and ensure they are not simply avoiding their food entirely. Pressing on the chest area carefully and feeling for a pronounced keel bone can help you monitor their weight, as well as monitoring their weight on a scale.

Check droppings and watch out for any runny stools or not enough droppings. Puffed feathers and reduced activity are signs your bird is not eating well.

Consulting first with an Avian vet to make sure your bird can handle the transition in food can prevent any health issues from occurring.

Birds That Enjoy Beans

Most seed-eating birds can eat cooked beans. Pet cockatiels, parakeets, and conures will enjoy this tasty treat. Wild birds can enjoy beans too. You can cook and mash them together with wild bird seed and place them outside in a bird feeder. Even backyard chicken and ducks enjoy eating cooked beans.

Beans are a great nutritional food for many birds to eat. As long as beans are cooked well and properly prepared, they are completely safe for birds to eat. High in fiber, protein, and carbohydrates, it’s a wonderful option to offer your bird to keep them happy and in good health.

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