Do Birds Eat Plants

Do Birds Eat Plants

Do Birds Eat Plants

Melissa Mayntz is a bird expert, certified Master Naturalist, writer, and author with over three decades of experience. She's published in several national magazines, including National Wildlife Magazine, Bird Watcher's Digest, and WildBird Magazine. Melissa has studied hundreds of bird species around the world, traveling to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, the central Pacific, the Middle East, and more on birding expeditions.The adjective "herbivorous" (her-BIH-vore-us; rhymes with "deliver us" and "purr shiver us") describes a diet composed primarily of plant material which may include seeds, grasses, grain, buds, nuts, fruit, nectar, leaves, tubers, sap, pollen, and algae. While many birds include a variety of plant materials in their diets, to be considered herbivorous their diet must be mostly plant-based for much of the year.



In the broadest sense, herbivorous birds eat plants, but there's much more to it than that. For a balanced, nutritious diet, most plant-eating birds eat a wide range of different plant parts, including tree buds, new leaves, and grass shoots, bits of bark, flowers, lichens, moss, nuts, fruit, seeds, sap, and more. Many birds that rely on plants for much of their diet will shift their eating patterns to consume plants or plant parts that are most widely available at different times of the year. For example, herbivorous birds may eat more buds and blossoms in spring, but shift to nectar or leaves in summer, fruit and nuts in the fall, and seeds throughout the winter.While a herbivorous diet should be mainly plants, many plant-eating birds do occasionally eat other things. In particular, many herbivorous birds add a greater proportion of insects or other protein to their diet during the nesting season in order for their chicks to receive appropriate nutrition for healthy growth. As they mature, however, the young birds transition to a plant-based diet, and the adults return to their preferred plant foods.

Honeyeaters, which are a large diverse family of Australian birds, eat insects besides plants. Most of them feed on berries and the sap of plants. These birds are known for having a brush-tipped tongue that takes nectar from flowers. Different types of honeyeater species compete for plants in one area, with larger species such as Noisy Miners and Red Wattlebirds usually winning when grabbing flowers. On the other hand, smaller species such as Eastern Spinebills live with larger honeyeaters because they require less food and are able to sneak into flowering plants when enough leaves can hide them. Finches eat garden plants, in addition to meat and seeds. Some of the plants they eat include flowering grasses such as pampas grass. These birds are known for consuming garden plants such as artichokes, sunflowers, milk thistle, Michaelmas daisies, goldenrod, teasel and tickseed. Milk thistle and teasel, commonly grown as an ornamental plants, lure goldfinches, while greenfinches are attracted to tickseed. They’re also carnivorous, eating insects. (Source: www.gardenguides.com)


Related Articles