Can Birds Eat Chia Seeds? [Yes, But Learn Why First!]

can birds eat chia seeds

You know that birds eat all manner of seeds and grains in the wild. Some birds also eat fruits, berries, nuts and insects. But, have you ever wondered whether birds can eat chia seeds?

You’ll be pleased to learn that most birds that commonly eat seeds, can also eat chia seeds. These seeds contain many valuable nutrients that can improve their diets and give them the energy that they need to get on with their daily activities.

Let’s explore the nutritional value that chia seeds provide.

The Nutritional Value Of Chia Seeds

Here’s a handy chart that lists the valuable nutrients contained in 100 grams of chia seeds.

Nutrient How Many Grams Contained In 100 grams Of Chia Seeds
Protein 16.5 grams
Carbohydrates 42.1 grams
Fiber 34.4 grams
Fat 30.7 grams
Omega 3 17.83 grams
Omega 6 5.84 grams

In addition, chia seeds also contain the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Manganese which is essential for growth and development
  • Phosphorus which contributes to tissue maintenance and bone health.
  • Copper which is important for heart health.
  • Antioxidants such as selenium, chlorogenic acid, caffeic acid, kaempferol and myricetin. These help birds to maintain a healthy liver and heart.
  • Iron which aids in the transportation of oxygen throughout the body.
  • Magnesium which aids in numerous bodily processes.
  • Calcium which is essential for strong bones and muscles.
  • Amino acids such as lysine, arginine, methionine, isoleucine, phenylalanine, leucine and tryptophan.
  • Vitamin B9 (Folate) which is important for cell division and strong growth.
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) which is important for increased energy and the metabolising of protein.
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin) which is important for the proper functioning of the nervous system.
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) which is important for strong growth in young birds.

As you can see, chia seeds contain many valuable nutrients, vitamins and minerals that are essential for healthy growth and bodily functions.

Where Do Chia Seeds Come From?

Chia seeds are produced by a common desert plant called Salvia hispanica. This plant is native to Central America and the seeds were often consumed by Aztecs, Mayans and Native Americans.

It’s also interesting to note that wild birds who migrate through desert regions will often feed on chia seeds during their migration. Local bird populations in these areas will also regularly feed on these seeds.

Let’s delve deeper into the individual nutrients found in chia seeds and explore why they’re beneficial to birds.

Why Are The Nutrients In Chia Seeds Beneficial To Birds?

  • Protein. Protein is important because bird feathers are made up of this valuable nutrient. In fact, a bird’s feathers are 90% protein. That’s why mother birds often feed protein-rich foods to their babies.
  • Calcium. Calcium is an important mineral especially for young birds and females that are getting ready to lay eggs. It’s also a mineral that is not readily available in some of the other foods that birds consume.
  • Fatty Acids. Omega 3 and Omega 6 are regarded as fatty acids. These are especially important for a bird’s immune system and its ability to ward off diseases.
  • Fat. As we already know, birds need an extra supply of fat during the colder weather because it helps them to regulate their body temperature and to stay warm during freezing conditions. Fats also help in the formation of feathers as a lack of fats can result in deformed feathers and discoloration.
  • Phosphorus. This mineral is essential for birds to retain their strength and coordination.
  • Manganese. This is another mineral that is essential for strong and healthy egg production. It also aids in a strong metabolism.
  • Fiber. This helps birds to move foods through their digestive tract and avoid constipation.

Which Species Of Birds Commonly Eat Chia Seeds?

If you add chia seeds to your backyard feeders, you’ll find that most seed-eating birds will happily consume them. However, there are certain bird species that live in the wild who will make it a habit to include chia seeds in their diet.

These include:

  • We know that sweet nectar is a large part of a hummingbird’s diet and provides these birds with the enormous amount of energy that they need. What you may not know is that hummingbirds will often include chia and other small seeds in their diet as well.
  • These comical birds are commonly found in desert regions, especially those in Mexico. Chia seeds form a regular part of their diet which also includes insects, rodents, fruits and prickly pear cacti.
  • Woodpeckers. Woodpeckers that inhabit desert regions are commonly found consuming chia seeds as part of their diet. They’re also fond of insects, nuts, berries and other types of seeds.
  • Finches and buntings. These small birds are known for their seed-eating diets with chia seeds forming part of that diet. They’re also fond of mealworms and different types of insects.
  • Quails. These ground-feeders will consume many different types of seeds and will often feed on chia seeds in the wild.
  • Sparrows. Sparrows are common in urban areas and around backyard feeders. They like to feast on all types of seeds including chia. Other favorites include sunflower and safflower seeds. These birds also adore fat balls in the winter but prefer to feast on insects in spring and summer.
  • Pigeons and Doves. Did you know that there are species of pigeons and doves that live in desert regions. They’re generally ground foragers and consume many different types of grains and seeds. In the desert, chia seeds form part of their diet but if you were to add these seeds to your backyard feeders, these birds would definitely devour them.
  • Macaws. Macaws are large birds that are common to Mexico, and Central and South America. They have a varied diet consisting of mainly fruits, seeds, nuts, snails and insects. Chia seeds form part of that diet.
  • Blackbirds. Blackbirds are also ground-foragers but they mainly forage for insects. However, to supplement their diet, they’ll also eat fruits, berries and various seeds including chia.
  • Goldfinches. These birds feed solely on grains and seeds. Of course, you would guess that they love chia seeds. Other favorites include sunflower seeds, nyjer and thistle.
  • Blue Jays. These bright and lively birds are mainly vegetarians. Their diet consists of nuts, acorns, berries, small fruits, beechnuts and different kinds of seeds including chia.

What Are Some Of The Benefits Of Adding Chia Seeds To Your Feeders?

Apart from the many nutritional benefits that chia seeds provide to birds, there are other benefits of adding these seeds to your backyard feeders. Here are just a few:

  • Chia seeds can easily be grown without the need for pesticides. This is good news for the birds.
  • Chia seeds can be fed in their raw state without the need for processing or grinding.
  • These seeds are a natural food that doesn’t need additives.
  • Chia seeds last well in storage. When kept in dry storage these seeds will last for over two years. This eliminates the need for preservatives.

How To Add Chia Seeds To Your Backyard Feeders

Because chia seeds don’t need to be processed, they can be added to your feeders in their natural form in addition to the other seeds that you normally put out.

Remember that birds need a varied diet so don’t offer just chia seeds but mix them with other common seeds that your local bird population likes. Too much of just one food type can cause problems for birds just like it can in humans.

Therefore, make sure that you mix things up regularly in your feeders so that the local birds get all the nutrients from the different types of foods that you provide for them.

As a special treat, you could also make up a pudding for the birds by soaking the seeds in water for a few hours. Place this mixture in a small dish in your feeders and watch the birds happily feasting away on it.

Final Words

Chia seeds are a great source of different nutrients, vitamins and minerals for seed-eating birds. They’re also high in fiber which aids in digestion and helps the birds to avoid constipation. Plus, they can be fed in their raw state and don’t need to be processed.

These seeds make a great addition to your backyard feeders and will be happily gobbled up by the birds that regularly visit you. Just make sure that you provide a varied diet for your backyard birds and include many other types of seeds as well as nuts, berries and small fruits.

This will ensure that the birds will get all the nutrition that they need and will keep coming back for more. Perhaps, if you’re lucky, they might even bring their mates and babies to your feeders. This will, indeed, make your backyard a hive of activity from all the visiting birds.

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