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Home > Birds > Can Birds Eat Grass Seed? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

Can Birds Eat Grass Seed? Vet-Reviewed Facts & FAQ

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Dr. Paola Cuevas

Veterinarian, MVZ

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Seeds are a natural part of a wild bird’s diet and are a great once-in-a-while offering for your pet bird. An all-seed diet, however, is high in fat and will not provide the nutrients your pet needs to thrive. So, while seeds are best used as an occasional treat, you might wonder what types to offer. Some bird owners might wonder if grass seeds are a healthy option. While birds can safely eat grass seeds, you might want to consider a different type for more of a nutritional punch.

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about grass seeds and pet birds.


Can Birds Eat Grass Seed?

Birds can absolutely eat grass seed. In fact, if you’ve ever tried patching a bare spot of grass on your lawn with grass seeds, you’ve probably seen wild birds like cardinals and doves pecking away at the seeds for a tasty lunch.

Common household birds like cockatiels, parakeets, finches, and budgies are keen on grass seed, too.

hand holding grass seed
Image By: Elena Elisseeva, Shutterstock

Is Grass Seed Safe?

There are two types of grass seeds on the market: uncoated or natural seeds and coated seeds.

Natural seeds are non-toxic and are what your pet bird would likely be eating if it were in the wild. They are tastier than their coated counterparts, too.

Coated seeds are also non-toxic, but they’ve been dipped or sprayed with a substance that helps the seed stay moist after it’s been planted. As a result, many birds are not as keen on the coated variety as they don’t taste nearly as good as the natural kind. In addition, you may find that your bird has digestion issues after eating this type of seed.

Opt for the uncoated variety if you’re looking to offer your pet bird grass seed as an occasional treat. On the other hand, if you’re hoping to keep birds away from the lawn you’re trying to grow, go for coated seeds.

Should I Offer My Bird Grass Seed?

Most bird owners will opt for ready-made seed mixes to offer their birds. Some of these mixes may have grass seeds included. This is a fine option so long as you’re positive the seeds are relatively fresh as they have a short shelf life. Once they are past their best-before date, they offer little nutritional value to your pet.

While you can offer grass seeds to your birds, there are other types of seeds that they’d prefer instead. It seems that wild birds may opt for your grass seed if you’re regrowing your lawn simply because of its availability. However, household birds might do better with more nutritious seeds instead.

There are two main types of seeds: oil and non-oil. The oil variety provides Vitamin E and is a source of energy. The non-oil type is lower in fat, and its energy is stored as starch.

Some of the best oil seeds include:
  • Black-oil sunflower
  • Striped sunflower
  • Safflower
  • Thistle
Some of the best non-oil seeds are:
  • Millet
  • Canary
  • Grain sorghum
blue cockatiel eating
Image Credit By: Ines Porada, Shutterstock

Can My Bird Eat a Seed-Only Diet?

No. Companion birds should not eat a diet consisting only of seeds as they do not provide the nutrients that their bodies need. Even vitamin-enriched commercial seed mixes cannot provide a complete diet for your pet. A seed diet is high in fat and fiber and too low in protein and vitamins to be a nutritionally complete diet.

Birds often favor one particular type of seed which may lead to overconsumption and a host of health issues such as malnutrition, obesity, or diabetes.

Seeds should act as a treat or as a reward for training.

Instead, feed your pet a pelleted diet and offer them fresh fruits and vegetables daily.


Final Thoughts

While grass seeds are unlikely to harm your bird, there are plenty of other healthier options you might consider instead. In addition, seeds should only be an occasional treat as they do not offer much nutritionally, and too many seeds can cause deficiencies that can lead to health problems.

Featured Image Credit: tab62, Shutterstock

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