Sesame seeds are packed with nutrients and have a delicious nutty flavor. But are these healthy little seeds safe and beneficial for birds to eat? Let’s look at the nutritional value of sesame seeds for birds, which species like to eat them, and how to properly include them in bird diets.
Nutritional Components in Sesame Seeds for Birds
Sesame seeds provide a few key nutrients that make them a healthy supplemental food for birds:
- Supply essential amino acids for growth and repair.
- Especially important during breeding season and molting periods.
- Rich in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids.
- Provides concentrated energy source for birds.
- Aids digestion and gut motility.
- Helps feed beneficial bacteria.
- Important for metabolic processes and enzyme function.
- Deficiencies can lead to anemia and nerve problems in birds.
- Manganese, copper, iron, calcium, zinc, magnesium.
- Support bone health, oxygen transport, and more.
Sesame seeds deliver a powerhouse of nutrition from protein and healthy fats to vitamins, minerals, and fiber that benefit bird health.
Bird Species that Like to Eat Sesame Seeds
The small size yet big taste of sesame seeds appeals to birds of many types:
- Songbirds – Finches, sparrows, buntings, juncos.
- Gamebirds – Doves, quail, pheasants, turkeys.
- Corvids – Crows, jays, magpies, ravens.
Any species that regularly feeds on seeds will readily eat sesame seeds provided in bird feeders or platforms. Larger birds may prefer hulled sesame for easier eating.
Benefits of Sesame Seeds for Birds
Beyond their nutritional value, sesame seeds offer other advantages for birds:
- Easy for small birds to eat.
- Can pick up and hull individual seeds.
- Hearty, protein and oil-rich composition.
- Provides satiety with small volume.
- Pleasantly nutty taste birds recognize.
- Not overly bitter or strong-flavored.
- Low moisture content prevents molding.
- Stays fresh in feeders even in damp conditions.
The tiny package of sesame seeds delivers big benefits for appealing to a wide variety of bird species.
Potential Downsides of Sesame Seeds for Birds
Along with their advantages, there are a couple potential downsides of feeding sesame seeds to birds to be aware of:
- Sesame seed allergies are possible though rare in birds.
- Symptoms may include diarrhea, skin irritation, feather loss.
- Sesame seeds contain soluble oxalate compounds.
- Could potentially cause kidney or bladder stone development if fed excessively.
- Very high in fats so can lead to obesity issues if overfed.
- Best to offer in moderation along with other grains and seeds.
- Raw sesame seeds may contain trace natural toxins.
- Roasted, toasted or hulled seeds are safer options for birds.
While quite uncommon, these potential risks can be avoided by monitoring bird health and feeding sesame in moderation.
Feeding Guidelines for Offering Sesame Seeds to Birds
To maximize nutrition and safety when including sesame seeds in backyard bird diets:
- Choose hulled, roasted or toasted sesame seeds which are easier to digest.
- Prevent obesity by limiting sesame to 20% or less of total feed volume.
- Mix with other seeds and grains like millet, oats, cracked corn.
- Offer only raw, unsalted sesame seeds. Avoid flavored or toasted.
- Monitor feeders for signs of mold, rancidity or insect infestations.
- Clean feeders regularly to prevent contamination and transmission of bacteria.
- Watch for signs of allergic reaction or illness and remove sesame seeds if evident.
- Provide a source of fresh water for birds to aid digestion and hydration.
Following these tips will allow safe inclusion of nutrient-dense sesame seeds as part of a balanced bird diet.
Frequently Asked Sesame Seed Bird Feed Questions
Here are answers to some common questions about feeding sesame seeds to birds:
Are sesame seeds safe for baby birds and nestlings?
Yes, parent birds can regurgitate softened sesame seeds to feed to young. The protein aids development.
Can birds choke on whole sesame seeds?
Birds are adapted to crack open and hull sesame seeds. Offering hulled seeds prevents risks. Monitor feeders for any signs of choking.
How should I store sesame seeds for bird feeding?
Store in a sealed bird seed container in a cool, dry place out of sunlight. Refrigeration can extend freshness longer term.
Do birds drink more water if eating dry sesame seeds?
Yes, birds will drink more to aid digestion when eating dry seeds. Provide a fresh water source near seed feeders.
Can hulled sesame seeds become rancid?
Yes, the high oil content can lead to rancidity over time. Discard any old, expired seeds or those with an off odor.
Are raw or roasted sesame seeds better for birds?
Both are fine nutritionally but roasting may make them more palatable. Avoid flavored roasted varieties.
Sesame seeds are packed with protein, healthy fats and fiber that make them a nutritious supplemental food for birds when fed properly. Most seed-eating species like songbirds, pigeons and gamebirds will readily eat sesame seeds from feeders or platforms. Look for hulled, roasted or toasted varieties and mix with other seeds and grains. Limit to 20% of diet to prevent obesity and other health issues. Feed cooked, unsalted seeds and monitor feeders for any signs of mold, illness or allergic reactions. With some precautions, sesame seeds can be a valuable addition to backyard bird diets, especially in winter when natural food is limited. Both birds and bird enthusiasts will enjoy these tasty, nutrient-dense treats.