Quinoa is a nutritious grain for humans and is considered a super grain for its health benefits. If it is a nutritional food source for humans, can birds eat quinoa since seeds and grains often make up the bulk of their diet?
Can Birds eat Quinoa?
Yes! Birds can eat quinoa as it has many health benefits for pets and wild birds. Birds will typically never eat quinoa in its raw state as it has a protective coating that makes it bitter and indigestible for birds and can cause them digestive distress. Quinoa stripped of the outer layer is good for birds, who can enjoy it as much as any other bird food.
In our experience, most processed human food is not suitable for birds. Some human food can be edible for birds, and quinoa is one of the most nutritious grains for birds.
If you are interested in feeding your birds quinoa, continue reading to learn more information and understand how to prepare the grain to make it safe for the birds to eat.
Is Quinoa Good For Birds?
Quinoa is good food for birds, but not in its original raw state. Quinoa is a grain that originates in the highlands of northeastern South America but has become a global grain crop due to its suitability as a nutrient-dense food for people and livestock.
Since quinoa is a grain crop, you would expect wild birds to eat raw quinoa from the fields where it is grown; however, birds do not consider this crop part of their natural diet because of the protective layer around the grain.
The outer layer of the grain seed is bitter, making them distasteful to birds. A substance called saponins in the outer seed covering produces a bitter taste, and it can cause digestive system distress in birds if they eat raw quinoa.
Scientists believe the quinoa plant developed this characteristic as a defense mechanism to prevent wild animals and birds from eating the grain.
When quinoa is processed for human consumption, the outer layer of the grain is removed to eliminate the bitter taste.
This processed quinoa is good for birds and can be a nutritious meal or snack as part of your bird’s healthy diet.
Nutritional Benefits Of Quinoa For Birds
Quinoa is a good source of water-soluble vitamins that must be replaced regularly in the bird’s diet. Vitamins such as Vitamin B6, thiamin, and riboflavin are examples of such vitamins that can be found in quinoa.
Quinoa is a valuable source of vitamin E, which promotes egg production, and the calcium and mineral content help to produce strong, healthy eggshells.
Other minerals beneficial for birds found in quinoa are zinc, copper, selenium, phosphorous, and potassium.
Quinoa contains Omega-3 fatty acids, which help prevent skin problems and help with strong feather growth.
Fiber is essential for birds to promote good digestion and regulate blood sugar levels, and quinoa is packed with dietary fiber.
Protein is vital to building cell health, increasing disease resistance, building and maintaining muscle, and overall good health. High protein levels in quinoa are the main reason it is considered a super-grain.
How To Prepare Quinoa For Birds
There are several ways that quinoa can be sourced and prepared to ensure it is suitable for pets and wild birds to eat.
Most quinoa available in stores has been processed to remove the bitter outer layer of the grain. If you are unsure whether the quinoa in the store has been processed, then opt for organic quinoa.
1. Washing uncooked quinoa seeds Before Feeding To Birds
If the outer layer has been removed, there will most likely be dust residue leftover in the bag.
Rinsing the quinoa thoroughly several times until the water runs clean will remove the bitter dust residue from the outer layer.
The best method to achieve this is to place the quinoa in a fine mesh kitchen strainer and run clean water over the grain. At first, the water exiting the strainer will have a milky color. This coloration is from the dust being washed off the grain.
When the water runs clear, the grain can be tipped out on a kitchen towel and patted dry. The uncooked quinoa can then be fed directly to your birds.
2. Sprouted Quinoa For Bird Feed
Sprouting the quinoa before giving it to the birds makes the grain’s nutrients more readily available.
As described above, sprouting quinoa starts with the same procedure of rinsing the grain until the water runs clear.
After rinsing the grain, place the seeds in a glass bottle with holes drilled in the top to promote drainage and airflow.
Swirl a little water in the quinoa, drain the water and place the jar at an angle on your kitchen drying rack to ensure the water drains completely. Rinse, empty, and rest the quinoa in this way three times a day.
You should see little white roots from the seeds within two or three days. When most seeds have started to sprout, you can feed the sprouted quinoa to the birds.
3. Cook Quinoa Before Feeding It To Birds
Cooking quinoa softens the grain and makes the seed burst open, making it easier for the birds to eat and digest.
Rinse the quinoa thoroughly to remove dust and remnants of the outer casing.
Place the quinoa in a pot and boil it on the stove to allow the grain to soften and open up. Most packaged quinoa comes with cooking instructions, so follow the directions on the back.
Do not add other ingredients to the quinoa, such as salt or other flavorings; these are unhealthy for the birds.
After boiling, allow the cooked quinoa to cool with the lid slightly open. Once the quinoa has cooled, it can be fed to the birds or mixed with other nutritious grains and seeds. A good tip is to add it to whatever packaged birdseed you already have.
What Type Of Quinoa is Best For Birds?
Quinoa comes in various colors, from orange to green, black, purple, and red. All of these quinoa varieties can be fed to wild birds and prepared using the methods above. You can even buy mixed quinoa that has all types.
Red quinoa has a higher nutritional value than other colors since it contains higher levels of b complex vitamins.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What birds will eat quinoa?
Most seed-eating birds will eat quinoa, either cooked or uncooked. Birds like finches, chickadees, sparrows, budgies, and parrots will enjoy quinoa if offered in a bowl or bird feeder.
Can birds eat quinoa raw?
No, birds will not eat raw quinoa as it has a protective outer layer that is bitter and can cause digestive issues in birds. Quinoa needs to be processed before birds can eat it, but most store-bought quinoa is already processed and is safe to feed your birds.
Can birds eat sprouted quinoa?
Yes, birds can eat quinoa that has sprouted. Sprouting the grain makes it more easily digested and increases its nutritional value.
Can birds eat cooked quinoa?
Yes, cooked quinoa is safe to feed birds. Boiling the grain softens it and makes it easier for them to digest. Make sure not to add any additional ingredients or seasoning when cooking the quinoa.
Can I mix quinoa with other bird seeds?
Yes, you can mix quinoa in with other bird seeds. A good tip is to add it to whatever packaged birdseed you already have. This mix will give the birds various seeds and grains, giving them more nutrition.
Can quinoa be used as a substitute for millet?
Yes, quinoa can be used as an alternative to millet. It contains a similar nutritional value and can be cooked, sprouted, or fed uncooked to birds. It’s a great way to mix up your bird’s diet and give them an enjoyable alternative to millet.
What Color of Quinoa is Better?
All colors of quinoa offer nutritional benefits; however, red quinoa is higher in B vitamins and other minerals. Red quinoa can be a great way to add variety and nutrition to your bird’s diet.
Can birds eat Quinoa from a Bird Feeder?
Yes, birds can eat quinoa from a feeder. Just make sure to rinse the quinoa thoroughly before adding it to the feeder so that no dust or remnants of its outer casing remain. This will help to keep the feeder clean and free from debris.
So, can Birds eat quinoa?
Birds do not eat quinoa in its raw state due to the bitter outer layer of the grain. Quinoa that has been prepared for human consumption has had the outer layer removed, making it more palatable for birds.
The quinoa can be rinsed several times and given to the birds or sprouted to increase its nutritional value.
Another favorite method of preparing quinoa for pets and wild birds is boiling the grain in plain water to soften it, making it easier for the birds to eat.
If you have any experience feeding quinoa to birds, let us know! We would love to hear from you about your experiences that we can share with our readers. Learning is a shared experience!
Remember to check our other blog posts for more information about birds and nature. Also, remember to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow bird lovers!