Beans are a staple food in many parts of the world for humans. But you may find yourself wondering whether they can be just as good for birds as they are for us.
Read on as we explore the answer to this question!
Do Birds Eat Beans?
Birds do eat beans when these are offered by humans, and gardeners may also be aware that birds can sometimes eat bean seeds when they are planted before they get the chance to grow. And they will also often eat young plants and the tops of bean plants in a vegetable garden.
Gardeners may often have to resow after birds eat young bush bean seedlings or young plants. Though, sometimes, these will get the chance to grow back.
But where birds are an issue in a vegetable garden, cloches or row covers can be used to protect the plants. Scarecrows and other bird scarers are sometimes also used. But these will typically only work for a short while, if they work at all, as birds soon get used to them.
Are Beans Safe for Birds To Eat?
Bean is a term used to refer to some common vegetables (pods, or seeds eaten inside pods), and seeds that are shelled for culinary use.
Many beans can be a good addition to the diet of birds. But it is important to understand how you can and should safely serve them, and how you cannot.
Can Birds Eat Raw Beans?
While birds will sometimes pluck raw green beans from the vine, and eat seeds in the garden, in general, it is not a good idea to feed raw beans to birds.
Some kinds of uncooked beans contain a harmful, tasteless toxin: the lectin phytohaemagglutinin, which must be removed through cooking. This is higher in some beans than in others, but it is always safest to avoid eating beans raw and to avoid feeding them to birds in this way.
Can Birds Eat Dried Beans?
Birds can eat dried beans. But it is important to note that these dried beans will be raw when dried, and so also have to be soaked and cooked thoroughly before they are served. It can take a long time to prepare dried beans for human or bird consumption. But you should be absolutely sure that you do so thoroughly.
Can Birds Eat Cooked Beans?
Once fresh, raw, or dried beans have been cooked thoroughly, they will no longer be potentially harmful to people or birds and can safely be fed either to pet birds or to birds in your backyard.
Boiling, sometimes with preparatory soaking, is the most common way to cook a range of beans. Green beans and green runner beans can also be steamed to retain their nutrients to a greater degree.
Can Birds Eat Canned Beans?
Canned, organic, and sodium-free beans are absolutely fine for birds to eat. But if you have canned beans, do be wary about feeding these to birds as many are canned with sauces or fluids that contain salt, sugar, etc. and these are not as healthy for birds.
Those without high salt content should be fine to feed to birds in moderation, now and then. But do be sure to look at the ingredient lists.
And if home canning, please do follow a trusted recipe for canning beans and remember that water bath canning is not sufficient – a pressure canner will be required to can low-acid foods to prevent pathogens that will be harmful to people and birds.
Are Beans Good for Birds?
Cooked green beans or shelled beans can be a great addition to a bird’s healthy diet. These can provide a range of different nutrition for the birds and can be a fantastic supplement to a bird’s main food sources.
Raw green beans are 90% water, 7% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and contain negligible fat. They are a moderate source of vitamin C, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and manganese. Lightly steamed or boiled briefly, they lose some of their nutritional value but become safe for birds to eat.
Shelled beans are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, folate, and iron. Beans also have significant amounts of fiber and soluble fiber.
Which Types of Beans Can Birds Eat?
When properly prepared, there is a range of different types of beans that birds can eat. Let’s look at some of the most common types of beans and whether they are safe to feed to birds:
Can Birds Eat Green Beans?
Green beans are typically the immature pods of the common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris). They are also known as French beans, fine beans, or haricot vert. They are eaten before the seeds inside develop fully and reach maturity.
Many birds will appreciate these vegetables as supplemental food, once they are cooked. So you can feed these to parrots or other pet birds, or leave out leftovers, finely chopped, for garden birds every once in a while.
Can Birds Eat Runner Beans?
Other beans that are often eaten when the pods are immature, as a vegetable, are runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus.
These too can be cooked and chopped up and given to birds as an occasional supplement, or to avoid wasting leftovers from your kitchen.
Can Birds Eat Fava Beans?
Fava beans, Vicia faba, are sometimes known as broad beans elsewhere in the world. The beans, shelled from their furry pods, can be eaten at an immature stage, while still green and soft, as a vegetable. Or the seeds can be left to mature, dried, and used as a pulse.
After cooking this type of bean, either green, as a vegetable, or as a pulse, later in their growth, after soaking and cooking, you can certainly feed them to birds as an excellent nutritionally beneficial snack.
Can Birds Eat Edamame Beans/ Soybeans?
Soybeans (Glycine max) can be another useful supplemental feed for birds. But like other beans, these definitely need to be cooked before they are provided.
Edamame is the name given to immature beans, which can be shelled from their pods, cooked, and fed to birds. Mature soybeans can also be cooked and then given to birds.
Can Birds Eat Pinto Beans?
A variety of the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris, pinto beans are typically harvested at maturity and then cooked, or dried for later use.
Once thoroughly soaked and cooked, these can certainly be fed to birds as a protein-rich food source. If you have leftovers with these beans, just make sure that no other ingredients (like onions for example, and salt) are present that could pose a risk to birds.
Can Birds Eat Kidney Beans?
This is also a variety of bean which comes from the common bean, Phaseolus vulgaris. These beans contain particularly high amounts of toxins when raw so special care should always be taken to make sure they are fully cooked.
Once thoroughly soaked and cooked, however, these also make an excellent additional food source for a range of birds.
Can Birds Eat Navy Beans/ Haricot Beans?
Yet another variety of beans comes from a type of Phaseolus vulgaris, these beans are used in tins of baked beans in tomato sauce that are so popular around the world. They are called Navy beans because they were a staple to Navy sailors since the mid-1800s.
These, when cooked fully, are also perfect for birds to eat. Just make sure that they do not come in a sauce that could cause health problems for the birds.
Can Birds Eat Black Beans?
Black beans, again, from a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, are popular in Latin American cuisine. Also called the black turtle bean, it is also fine for birds to eat when cooked.
However, leftover dishes with black beans like refried beans will typically also contain salt and onions, which are not good to feed to birds.
Can Birds Eat Lima Beans?
Lima beans, also known as butter beans, come from Phaseolus lunatus.
Cooked lima beans are also fine for birds to eat, and can provide them with certain health benefits as part of a balanced and varied diet.
Can Birds Eat Garbanzo Beans?
Split Garbanzo beans, also called chickpeas, are from Cicer arietinum.
These can be eaten raw by a few larger wild bird species. But it is always best to cook these before serving them to birds on the whole. They can also be soaked and sprouted for some birds.
An unseasoned paste will be appreciated by many birds. But think about the other ingredients in a hummus (especially salt and garlic) before this is served to any birds.
Can Birds Eat Mung Beans?
Mung beans, which come from Vigna radiata, can also be sprouted for some birds. Mung beans are sometimes used to provide beansprouts for stir-fries and other meals.
Boiled mung beans and mung bean paste (unseasoned) can also be offered to birds as a protein source and a source of other nutrients.
Can Birds Eat Adzuki Beans?
Adzuki beans are from the plant Vigna angularis. It produces small reddish beans typically, though there are also different colored varieties.
These beans can also be boiled and pasted and served to birds. Note that an East Asian red bean paste contains a lot of sugar, however, so won’t be a particularly healthy choice to feed birds.
As you can see from the above, beans are good supplemental food for birds, as long as they are well cooked, and do not come with other ingredients that could pose a risk to your feathered friends.