Can Birds Eat Flax Seeds? [Yes, But There’s More To It..!]

can birds eat flax seeds

When you’re considering what to put out in your feeders for the seed-loving birds that come to visit your backyard, you might be wondering whether birds can eat flax seeds.

Flax seeds are a healthy addition to any seed-eating bird’s diet as they contain plenty of nutrients and are easy for the birds to eat. Bear in mind though, that flax seeds also contain a fair amount of fat so they shouldn’t be fed exclusively. Nevertheless, they’re a great addition to any bird mix that you’re making up.

Let’s get the lowdown on the nutritional benefits of flax seeds.

Nutritional Benefits Of Flax Seeds

Flax seeds are full of nutritional benefits for birds. Here’s a list of just some of the nutrients found in flax seeds.

General Vitamins Minerals
  • Fiber
  • Plant protein
  • Polyunsaturated fats
  • Monounsaturated fats
  • Saturated fats
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
  • Thiamin
  • Riboflavin
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Folate
  • Calcium
  • Iron
  • Magnesium
  • Phosphorus
  • Potassium
  • Sodium
  • Zinc
  • Copper
  • Manganese
  • Selenium

As you can see, flax seeds contain a large amount of different dietary requirements that birds need in a healthy diet.

Where Do Flax Seeds Come From?

Flax seeds come from the flax plant. It’s botanical name is Linum usitatissimum. The flax plant, also called linseed in some countries, grows to about 2 feet tall and is cultivated all around the world. It’s believed that the plant was originally grown in Egypt.

An interesting point to note is that before the 20th century, the flax plant was primarily used to make clothing. You might be familiar with linen, which is the fabric produced by the flax plant. Although linen is still used today as a strong and durable fabric, now flax plants are mostly grown for their nutritious seeds.

In fact, you’ll often find flax seeds in bread and different cereals. This nutritious little seed has also found its way into manufactured pet foods.

Can You Give Birds Whole Flax Seeds?

Birds are perfectly capable of eating flax seeds whole and can easily crack them open with their beaks. However, to get all the nutritional benefits from these seeds, some bird lovers will grind them up first. This can be done using a coffee grinder and then the ground seeds can be sprinkled over the rest of the seed mix that you give your visiting birds.

Flax seeds are full of omega-3 just like many nuts. Omega-3 is an important part of any bird’s diet because it prevents atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.

A diet that includes flax seeds also promotes healthy growth in the bird’s feathers. It’s also a great source of energy for the birds due to the crude protein found in these seeds. This extra protein is especially important during breeding season as it helps to promote strong growth in young birds.

Flax Seed Is Perfect For Feeding In Winter

During winter is when wild birds need more fats in their diet as it helps them to stay warmer and survive the cold weather. It’s also a time when other food sources may be more difficult for the birds to find.

This is one of the reasons to leave your feeders out over the colder months and to add some seeds, such as flax seeds, that contain a good amount of oils and fats for the birds to enjoy.

Do Birds Like Flax Seeds?

Rest assured that your visiting birds are going to love the flax seeds that you put out for them, In general, birds know instinctively what is good for them and flax seeds are certainly in that category.

How Should You Serve The Flax Seeds To Your Visiting Birds?

Flax seeds do have a very hard shell. While this is not a turnoff for birds, these seeds are far easier to digest when they’re ground up. This grinding process also releases many more of the nutrients encased in flax seeds.

Another option is to soak some flax seeds in water or almond milk for the birds. This will soften the seeds and make them easier to digest. You could also add some nuts and fresh fruit to the mixture for a powerhouse of nutrition for the birds.

It’s important not to buy ground flax seeds but rather, to grind them yourself. This is because commercially produced ground flax seeds may contain less of their essential nutrients and fatty acids.

Make sure that you only feed flax seeds as part of a healthy diet to the birds. Because these seeds do have a high fat content, birds shouldn’t be fed exclusively with flax seeds.

Are There Certain Species Of Birds That Will Eat Flax Seeds?

As we know, there are thousands of species of birds in the world and they all have different diets that they prefer. There are nectar eating birds, fruit loving birds, seed eating birds and birds that prefer to munch on insects and the like.

In general, most seed eating birds will enjoy some flax seeds if you put them out. These include:

  • Pigeons and doves love to eat flax seeds in addition to their regular diet.
  • Budgerigars also really enjoy eating flax seeds because of their high oil content.
  • Parrots simply adore flax seeds. In fact, these tiny seeds are among some of their favorite foods.
  • Parakeets also love eating flax seeds as part of a balanced diet.
  • Cockatiels enjoy munching on flax seeds as well. Just toss a small amount into their regular seed mix.
  • Finches love flax seeds because they are quite small and easy to handle.
  • Lovebirds are also quite fond of flax seeds. Especially when they’re ground up and sprinkled on other foods.
  • Cockatoos particularly prefer ground up flax seeds in moderate amounts.
  • Conures also enjoy dining on flax seeds as part of a balanced diet.
  • Robins are particularly fond of the taste of flax seeds.

Can You Give Flax Seed Oil To Birds?

It is quite safe to give flax seed oil to birds as an additive to their regular diet. However, flax seed oil doesn’t contain as many nutrients as the actual seeds do. Therefore, it’s much better to buy whole flax seeds and grind them up before adding them to your feeders.

How To Feed Ground Flax Seed To Your Backyard Birds

Here’s a simple way to add some ground flax seeds to your feeders:

  • Grind up a small amount of flax seeds (around a teaspoon or less) in a coffee grinder or similar.
  • Choose a seed feeder that is enclosed so that the seed inside stays dries.
  • Fill the feeder with your preferred bird seed mix.
  • Sprinkle the ground flax seed over the seeds in the feeder.
  • Make sure that you clean the feeder and refresh the mix at least once a week to keep the freshness and avoid the growth of bacteria.

You can also sprinkle some ground up flax seed onto other foods that you leave out for the birds such as fruits, vegetables, nuts and even soft mixes.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birds eat raw flax seeds?

It’s perfectly fine to feed raw flax seeds to your birds. In fact, these seeds are often found in commercially produced seed mixes. However, for the birds to get even more nutrition from these seeds, it’s better to grind them up and sprinkle them over other foods that you give them.

Can you put flax seeds in your bird feeder?

Yes, you can add flax seeds into your bird feeder but make sure that you also add other seeds and nuts so that the birds get a perfectly balanced diet.

Are flax seeds good for birds?

Absolutely. Flax seeds contain a variety of different vitamin and minerals as well as fibre, protein and fatty acids such as omega 3 and omega 6.

Is flax seed safe for wild birds?

Flax seeds are perfectly safe to feed to wild birds. In fact, birds that come across flax plants will happily eat the seeds in the wild.

Do flax seeds go bad?

Flax seeds contains a high level of oil and fatty acid. Therefore, they can go rancid over time. You can tell if any seeds that you have are bad by sniffing them. If they have a sour odor, then they’re definitely bad and should be thrown out.

Final Thoughts

Now you know the health benefits of feeding flax seeds to your birds. Flax seeds are highly nutritious and also contain a high level of fatty acids. These fats and oils are particularly important in winter when birds need that little extra energy to help them stay warm. They’re also useful around breeding time to promote strong growth in baby birds.

It’s best to feed flax seeds to your backyard birds as part of a balanced diet and to grind the seeds up first before giving them to the birds.

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