Birds and Seeds

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This topic contains 4 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  txhummers 1 year, 11 months ago.

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  • #5098590 Report Abuse


    I’ve always wondered what drew a particular bird species to their seed preferences.

    For  example, most Finches love thistle/niger seed while woodpeckers and most jay are drawn to nuts.

    Is it by sight, smell, familiarity?

    Probably tons of answers out on google, I suppose.


    #5098596 Report Abuse

    Elliotgb that is an interesting question. I don’t know why one particular bird species is drawn to one seed more than another. I  have always thought it  was kinda strange how much some birds like peanuts. The only way for them to get a peanut is for us to put them in our feeders or out somewhere for them since peanuts grow underground.


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    #5098604 Report Abuse


    Ok you asked if it was smell, sight or familiarity… what I have read and I have read hundreds of different books, pamphlets etc. it is mostly by sight and familiarity. Although there is many different opinions on whether a bird can smell or taste it appeared that they feel they do not. An example is if you use the hot pepper in seeds to keep squirrels away from eating the seed, the birds do not care and eat as usual.

    #5100622 Report Abuse

    Apparently my response didn’t post. It’ all about the bird’s beak or bill as to what they eat. It becomes a community effort. Small birds can open small seeds, but usually can’t cracked open bigger, tougher seeds. The bigger birds cracked open the bigger seeds for themselves, but the little birds also eat the “crumbs” that the big birds drop. Same with the medium sized birds. Squirrels cracked the big, hard shelled nuts and what they leave behind is the treats for the birds. Some birds eat the whole seed, so they go off and poop out some of the seeds and those seeds germinate and grow new plants for future food. This is how you get a balanced ecosystem. Birds with a bill eat different foods because of the shape and size of their bills. Some are grass eaters, some are fish eaters. Some birds rip and tear their food like the raptors. So size DOES matter. LOL!

    #5100922 Report Abuse


    Most biologists conclude that birds feed by sight.  The olfactory (smell) system on birds is very under developed and thus the conclusion (we have no way to know with certainty that it is fact) that birds can not smell.

    Yes, the bill shape has a lot to do with what they eat, but seed eaters in general have a larger bill designed to crush.  This does not hold for chickadees or titmice, but these birds generally carry their food to a nearby perch and bang them on the branch to break them open.

    Fruit eaters generally have a larger bill too.

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