Seeds make up a large portion of the wild bird's daily diet, along with bugs and worms. Captive birds subsist on nutrient-packed pellets and some seeds. Many birds like fruit, which should be part of any captive bird's diet, both for the nutrients it provides and the variety it offers.
Many birds will eat fruit if it's offered. Some birds, however, are known to be voracious fruit eaters. These include orioles -- who may prefer fruit to any other food -- and robins, bluebirds, cardinals, jays, thrashers, tanagers, woodpeckers, mockingbirds, starlings, thrushes, cedar waxwings and yellow-breasted chat. Pet birds, such as parrots and finches, enjoy many kinds of fresh fruit.
Many birds like berries, especially blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, elderberries, raspberries and strawberries. Certain birds seem to prefer some berries over others, whether because certain ones are more plentiful in their environment or because they're better for them or because they taste better. Many birds like blackberries, but these particular berries are particularly important for cardinal and rose-breasted grosbeak diets.
Orioles and tanagers are known to love oranges, and some people put orange quarters or halves out on spikes specifically to attract them. Many other wild and pet birds -- such as finches and parrots -- also like oranges, as well as bananas, mangoes, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, papayas and even tomatoes.
What to Avoid
Always remove the skin from fruit, because it may contain pesticides that can harm birds even in small quantities. Avoid serving the seeds of fruits unless you're sure they're safe. Apple and apricot seeds are toxic to birds, so remove them, along with the pits of fruit like peaches. The leaves of many fruits are toxic, although the fruits themselves are safe. Avocados are toxic to birds, so always avoid them.
How to Prepare Fruit
Cut the edible parts into bite-sized pieces. You can place larger fruit on a skewer or in a cage food dish or clamp it outdoors, allowing birds to chew off bits of the fruit while keeping one bird from carrying off the fruit for a solo feast. Soak raisins and currants in water overnight and serve them when they're plump and juicy. Remove fresh fruit after a few hours so it doesn't become spoiled.
- Extension Service West Virginia University Wildlife: Beauty in Your Backyard: Attracting and Feeding Summer Birds
- Audubon: Bird Feeding Basics
- 50birds.com: Chart of Fruit Eaten by Birds
- loveyourparrot.com: Healthy Fresh Fruits for Parrots
- Pet University: Finches
- Avian Web: Food and Plants That Can Be Toxic for Birds
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