Can Birds Eat Bell Peppers? Why You Can Skip This Snack

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Bird enthusiasts love to offer tasty treats to their feathered friends. Certain table scraps should never be fed to birds, while others can reasonably attract birds.

Some foods, bread or foods high in salt, can have a negative impact on birds. Bread can cause Angel Wing, especially for waterfowl, while salt can be toxic, even in foods that you might not consider “salty.”

You should do your research before putting any human foods out for backyard birds. But are bell peppers a safe food for birds? Read on to find out.

Hot and Bell Peppers

Spicy peppers like cayenne pepper are an ingredient commonly introduced to bird seeds to deter squirrels.

Capsaicin is the chemical in peppers that makes them spicy.

The capsaicin in chili peppers makes them too spicy for squirrels, which have far more taste receptors than birds do. This causes them to leave spicy seed mixes or suet alone. Birds, however, don’t seem to mind the spicy flavors.

According to Anna Pidgeon, a wildlife and ecology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chickens have just 24 taste buds and pigeons have 37. Humans, on the other hand, have over 10,000. Other mammals, including rodents, likely have a similar number.

While birds don’t mind hot peppers, they’re not an essential part of a bird’s diet. The same goes for colorful bell peppers. While you could feed peppers to birds, they’re unlikely to be a favorite.

Will Birds Enjoy Raw Bell Peppers?

There’s no reason that birds can’t eat bell peppers, but chances are, if you put out a raw pepper near your bird seed, you’ll be in the yard picking up an old, mushy bell pepper after a few days.

There’s a chance that some bird species, like blackbirds, may be seen picking around a garden or a bell pepper offered to the birds near their bird feeder. However, other critters, like rodents or deer, are far more likely to invade your garden during the growing season.

Many birds prefer seeds such as sunflower seeds, safflower, millet, or thistle, among others. Some others eat insects and mealworms, and some are known to eat fruit, such as orioles.

Can I Feed the Birds Cooked or Canned Peppers?

If you’re putting peppers out for the birds, avoid peppers cooked in oil, covered in salt or other seasonings, or filled with other ingredients, such as in a stuffed pepper recipe.

According to the Hagen Avicultural Research Institute, even canned vegetables could be toxic to birds if eaten in significant quantities. This is due to their salt concentration. The institute recommends rinsing canned vegetables thoroughly before giving them to birds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birds eat pepper seeds?

There’s no reason birds can’t eat pepper seeds, but chances are that they won’t eat too many of them. Even if there are peppers available, such as in a backyard garden, the chance of birds picking apart one pepper enough to get at the seeds is relatively low.

Can birds eat all colors of bell peppers?

There’s no difference between green, yellow, and red bell peppers when it comes to what birds can eat or not eat.

Bell peppers may sweeten as they ripen and change colors from green to red, but that change likely won’t make a ton of difference to birds.

What table scraps can birds eat?

Certain table scraps could be acceptable to feed to birds, but in general, most table scraps should not be given to your feathered backyard friends.

Anything high in oil, sugar, empty carbohydrates, or salt should be avoided, as these ingredients are not good for birds in large concentrations.

Honey and chocolate are also among the ingredients that should never be given to birds.

Natural foods like fruits, including dried fruits, can make a healthy treat for birds. Unsalted nuts, cracked corn, or peas (thawed if frozen) are also likely to be popular with certain backyard birds. Your backyard bird population will thank you if you focus on offering these favorite foods.

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Jacob Swanson

Jacob Swanson is a writer and wildlife photographer born and raised in Wisconsin and currently based in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Since graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, his work has appeared in over a dozen different web and print outlets. In his free time, he’s on a personal quest to visit every U.S. national park and see as many wildlife species as possible. His favorite birds are whooping and sandhill cranes.