Many garden and pet birds can benefit from eating certain vegetables every once in a while to add variety to the diet and bring nutritional benefits. But are beets one of the vegetables that birds can eat?
Can birds eat beets? And if so, which parts do they eat, and are they good for them? Should you feed beets, and if so, how and in what form?
Read on to find the answers to these questions and more information on this topic.
Can Birds Eat Beets?
If you grow beets in your garden, you may have discovered the answer to this question, as birds often pull up and eat young beet seedlings and plants in your vegetable beds.
But you may also be wondering whether birds will eat them when we offer them. You might wonder if you can leave out leftover or excess beets for garden birds or feed them to your pet birds.
Many birds do indeed eat beets when these are offered. And even when they are certainly not a natural part of the bird’s diet, they can be a healthful supplement when offered as a portion of additional food.
As bird owners, we should always strive to give our birds nutritious food to ensure they’re healthy. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t give your bird junk foods or their favorite foods!
Which Birds Eat Beets?
In the garden, the birds that might eat young seedlings include pigeons, doves, etc… Those who keep backyard chickens will soon discover that they, too, can be a menace in a vegetable garden, loving to eat all the tender young growth of plants like beets and brassica plants.
Which Parts of Beets Do Birds Eat?
The whole of the Beta vulgaris subsp. vulgaris plant is edible to birds and us. We are most used to growing these plants for their bulbous root. But we can eat the leaves of this plant too.
Beet Seedlings/ Young Plants
When growing in a vegetable garden, the plant is most likely eaten by birds in the early stages of its growth. As mentioned above, birds pulling out tender young seedlings can pose a challenge for the gardener.
Some birds will continue to eat the leaves in the garden even after they begin to become rather tough. And many other birds will appreciate it when beet leaves are offered as a raw or cooked green.
The roots of beets are less likely to be eaten by birds while they are below the soil, though some birds may occasionally pluck up baby beets from the ground and eat these along with the greens.
Many birds will definitely love eating beets when they are offered, however, some will prefer them raw and others will prefer them cooked. But they will often disappear quickly when offered to wild or pet birds.
How To Stop Birds Eating Crops in Your Garden
If you are bothered by birds eating your beet crop before it really has the chance to grow, then there are several different strategies that gardeners will try.
Some will spread birdseed on pathways to try to divert birds’ attention. Others may place scarecrows or other scaring devices. But these strategies, if they work at all, will not typically work for long.
The only really effective way to stop birds from eating your beet seedlings is to ensure that there are plenty of other natural food sources for birds in your garden and to use physical barriers such as cloches or row covers over your crops.
Are Beets Good for Birds?
Though we might not always be happy that birds are eating crops that we want to eat ourselves, it is good to know that beets are good for birds.
The greens and the roots are full of vitamins and other nutrients that keep birds healthy. Beets are as good for birds as they are for us. Beet green is also ideal for this species of bird.
So this means that it is a wonderful idea to feed beets (greens and roots) to birds with whom we share our space – whether they are visitors to our gardens or pet birds that live with us in our homes.
How Should You Feed Beets to Birds?
If you have a glut of beets from your garden or leftovers from your kitchen to share, there is no harm in feeding beets to birds, and it will do them good in moderation as a supplement to their main diet.
However, one key thing to note is that you should expect this to make quite a mess! Beet juice stains and birds can get discolored beaks, feet, and feathers.
Their poop can also look quite alarming after they have eaten beets – so make sure you remember what you fed them, so you do not jump to the wrong conclusion when you see the red everywhere.
Another thing to note is that you should always choose organic beets whenever possible. Pesticides and herbicides used in non-organic farming potentially harm our own health, but they can be even more dangerous for birds.
Grow Your Own Beets Where Possible
Choosing organic, and ideally home-grown or locally grown, season options are the most eco-friendly choice when feeding yourself and the birds.
This is the best option if you can grow your own beets in your garden and share the excess with the birds.
Beets are relatively easy to grow. They can cope with a range of conditions as long as they have relatively sunny or only lightly shaded sites with rich, moist soil. They grow best in USDA hardiness zones 4-8.
There are wide different varieties of beet that you might grow, which can be sown in spring, through summer, and into fall. Successional sowings can often mean that you and the birds could enjoy beets from the garden pretty much all year round.
Can You Feed Raw Beets to Birds?
Yes, you can indeed feed raw beets to birds for them to peck at. Depending on the birds in question, you might also offer it cut up into small chunks or shredded.
The leaves can also be offered whole, loosely chopped, or shredded, depending on which types of birds you are aiming to feed.
The birds appreciate fresh foods such as native fruits and fresh beets because it supplements their nutritional needs.
Can You Feed Cooked Beet to Birds?
Steamed or boiled beets can also safely be given to birds. While they have lost some of the vitamins and nutrients in the raw roots and leaves, they are still healthy.
Remember that you should not feed leftovers with excessive oil or any added salt to birds.
So while it is perfectly safe and healthy for birds to have beets, make sure you consider everything else in the recipe. Make sure there is nothing in the recipe that will harm birds.
Can You Feed Pickled Beet to Birds?
While a very small quantity of pickled beet is unlikely to harm, pickling involves vinegar (which may not make the taste appealing to birds) and sugar (which is not great for birds, or us for that matter, in excess). So it is best to serve beets fresh or lightly cooked where possible.
Just remember to place this food somewhere you don’t mind getting a little messy. While this is a healthy food source, some clean-up may occur after birds have had their fill.