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Can Birds Eat Chia Seeds? What You Need to Know!

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chia seeds in wooden bowl

Since chia seeds are healthy for people to eat, you may be wondering if you can feed them to your backyard birds. It’s perfectly fine to feed chia seeds to wild birds because these tiny seeds are non-toxic, safe, and beneficial for birds to eat.

hummingbird divider

What Are Chia Seeds?

The plant called Salvia hispanica from the mint family is what produces chia seeds. These tiny, oval-shaped seeds gained mainstream popularity decades ago as a healthy food source. Today, chia seeds are touted as a superfood due to their nutritional attributes. Many people incorporate them into their daily diets by eating them raw and preparing them in various dishes.

chia seeds in a bowl
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

Benefits of Feeding Chia Seeds to Birds

Chia seeds contain loads of beneficial nutrients that can improve the diet of seed-eating birds. These seeds are high in many essential nutrients including:

  • Protein: As protein-rich seeds, chia seeds are a great source of protein for a bird’s overall health. Young birds significantly benefit from the protein found in chia seeds because they need extra protein to grow strong feathers.
  • Calcium: Calcium is crucial for good bone and egg development in all types of wild birds. Chia seeds contain twice as much calcium as sunflower seeds, making them an excellent source of this vital mineral.
  • Fatty acids: Chia seeds contain both omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that strengthen birds’ immune systems while improving their capability to fight off sickness and disease.
  • Saturated Fat: All birds need saturated fat in their diet for energy production to keep their bodies warm, especially during cold weather.
  • Phosphorous: Without adequate phosphorus, birds can become weak and lose coordination. Chia seeds are an excellent source of this important nutrient.
  • Manganese: This trace mineral plays a crucial role in proper egg development.
  • Vitamin B9: Birds require vitamin B9 to ward off slow growth, reproductive problems, and muscular dystrophy.
  • Vitamin B2: This important vitamin provides birds with energy and the ability to metabolize protein. Chia seeds are rich in Vitamin B2.
  • Vitamin B1: A deficiency in Vitamin B1 in birds can lead to breeding failure and a shortened lifespan.
  • Vitamin B3: Most wild birds require ample amounts of Vitamin B3 for growth. Birds get Vitamin B3 from eating wax worms, crickets, mealworms, and sesame seeds. Chia seeds contain twice as much Vitamin B3 as sesame seeds, making them an ideal source of this vitamin.
  • Fiber: Fiber assists birds in passing hearty foods through the digestive tract and protects against constipation.
Image Credit: OlinEJ, Pixabay

As you can see, tiny chia seeds can pack a big punch. These small, black seeds are not only safe for wild birds to eat, but they’re also a tasty superfood that helps birds stay healthy and strong.

Wild Birds That Eat Chia Seeds

Several species of wild birds will gladly eat some chia seeds you place in your backyard feeder. Depending on where in the country you live, you can expect to see some of these birds come for the chia seeds you place outdoors:

  • Blue Jays
  • Chickadees
  • Goldfinches
  • Blackbirds
  • Pigeons
  • Mourning Doves
  • Sparrows
  • Woodpeckers
  • Hummingbirds
  • Grosbeaks
  • Nutcrackers
  • Nuthatches
bluejay bird
Image Credit: Mohan Nannapaneni, Pixabay

How to Feed Chia Seeds to Wild Birds

It’s important to know that you don’t need to soak chia seeds in water before feeding them to wild birds because birds don’t have any problems digesting them.

To feed chia seeds to birds, simply mix a handful of the seeds into the bird food mixture you use. You can also buy a separate bird seed feeder for the chia seeds. If you choose this method, only fill the feeder with chia seeds once in a while so the birds won’t eat too many and get fat since chia seeds are high in saturated fat.

Another way to feed chia seeds to wild birds is to press some of the seeds into suet dough and then place the dough in a suet cage bird feeder.

garden bird feeder
Image Credit: PhillipsC, Shutterstock

A Typical Bird Diet

Most wild birds thrive on the typical avian diet consisting of creepy-crawlies like worms and insects. However, birds also routinely feast on various seeds, grains, berries, fruits, and nuts. Wild birds typically forage for these things during their waking hours, but it depends on the species and season.

While wild birds forage well on their own, they can benefit from eating bird feed and supplemental treats, like chia seeds, that you place in your backyard feeder. Offering the birds in your area some bird feed and treats is especially beneficial during the colder months when food is scarce.

hummingbird feeder
Image Credit: Piqsels

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In Conclusion

Wild birds can safely eat chia seeds because they’re non-toxic and contain beneficial nutrients and essential vitamins. Chia seeds should be fed in moderation because too much of them causes birds to gain weight. Simply mix some chia seeds in with the bird food you place in your backyard feeder and watch your feathered friends enjoy the healthy treat!

Featured Image Credit: everydayplus, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.