Mushrooms are popular in many animals’ diets, including some birds. However, not all birds can (or should) eat mushrooms. It is important to know which mushrooms are safe for bird consumption and which birds should steer clear of the fungi world.
What You'll Learn
Birds have diverse diets that range from the plant-heavy diets of many waterfowl to the carnivorous ones common to birds of prey.
Like many other plants, mushrooms find their way into some birds’ diets, but they can prove to be dangerous for many others.
Understanding Birds’ Diets
Among the thousands of bird species, there is a wide array of feeding habits and diets. Birds of prey, for instance, primarily eat animals, such as fish, lizards, and small rodents.
Most other birds typically eat some combination of plants, seeds, and insects. Plants and seeds are rich sources of important nutrients that birds need, and insects provide protein.
So, where would mushrooms come in?
As we will dive more into shortly, most birds do not eat mushrooms, at least not consistently. But for those that do, mushrooms provide some great nutritional value. Mushrooms contain nutrients such as iron, calcium, and vitamin C, all of which are important in birds’ diets.
However, mushrooms can also do more harm than good by creating digestive issues and even leading to fatality. Here’s a closer look at why many birds avoid mushrooms and which ones don’t.
Birds And Mushrooms In The Wild
There are around 14,000 types of mushrooms in the world that we know of, many of which make up a significant part of animal diets.
Mushrooms and other fungi can be extremely poisonous to some animals, including many birds. It is important to know which birds can eat mushrooms, which ones do not, and which mushrooms birds should and should not consume.
Which Birds Eat Mushrooms?
While some birds might eat mushrooms occasionally but not as part of their usual diet, there are others that regularly eat mushrooms.
For instance, mushrooms are a staple in the diets of Spruce Grouse, Canada Jays, Siberian Jays, and wild turkeys.
Spruce Grouse can be found in some northern parts of the United States and across Canada. Resembling chickens in appearance, these birds live in forests and feast on a wide range of plants and insects, including pine needles, berries, seeds, and mushrooms.
In addition to feasting on carrion, insects, and even other smaller birds, Canadian Jays and Siberian Jays are fungi fans and frequently eat mushrooms.
Wild turkeys are also known to seek out mushrooms to eat, particularly morel mushrooms, which are one of the safer mushrooms to eat because of their low toxicity.
Truffles are also common in certain birds’ diets, such as the Black-Throated Huet-Huet. While not mushrooms, truffles are part of the fungi world. Because they grow underground and have to be accessed by digging for them, they are not a common go-to food for most birds, who tend to scavenge for foods above ground like berries, seeds, and insects.
However, scientists discovered that Black-Throated Huet-Huets, which live in Chile and Argentina, scratch around the forest floors searching for truffles to eat.
Dangers of Mushrooms
Some of the most dangerous mushrooms include Deathcap (Amanita phalloides), Autumn Skullcap (Galerina marginata), and Destroying Angels (Amanita virosa). Toxic mushrooms like these can cause serious damage, such as convulsions, seizures, and even liver or kidney failure.
The reason mushrooms can be so dangerous is that many of them contain poisonous toxins that can cause illness and even death.
Some toxic mushrooms also look very similar to ones that are not deadly, so they are sometimes mistaken for safe mushrooms.
Deadly mushrooms like Amanita virosa may also appear safe because they do not give off a foul smell or look threatening. In fact, they may look pleasing and inviting.
Mistaking poisonous mushrooms for non-toxic ones is one of the main causes of mushroom poisoning. This may be why birds avoid the fungal world altogether. More often than not, the toxins from mushrooms are too strong for birds’ digestive systems to handle, and birds can experience severe symptoms from ingesting mushrooms.
Should You Feed Your Pet Bird Mushrooms?
When it comes to mushrooms, it is usually best to avoid feeding them to your pet bird. However, some birds can eat mushrooms with no issues, as long as the mushrooms are not toxic and are prepared correctly.
You should be very careful when feeding mushrooms to your pet bird. Parrots, for example, can have extreme reactions to raw mushrooms that result in fatality.
If boiled well and given in small amounts, mushrooms such as button and portobello mushrooms could be safe for parrots to consume. However, it is best to avoid including mushrooms in their diet to avoid any possible poisoning.
Other common pet birds, such as parakeets, should be treated similarly. Parakeets may also be able to safely consume certain kinds of mushrooms in small amounts, especially if they are cooked first. However, it is still possible that they will have an adverse reaction to them.
Birds And Mushrooms
While scientists are still learning new information about birds and avian life every day, we can observe that most birds do not include mushrooms in their daily diet because of the possible toxins they contain.
While some birds benefit from the nutrients and vitamins in mushrooms, others do not. So, if you are trying to decide what foods to put out for your backyard birds or what treats to feed your indoor feathered friend, play it safe and choose something like seeds, nuts, or worms.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.