Can Birds Eat Lemons? The Answers Are Surprising…

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You might be looking for new ways to supplement the diet of wild birds in your garden, or wondering about what you should and should not feed to pet birds. At some point, when considering different foods, you might wonder “can birds eat lemons?”

In short, the answer is that some birds do eat lemons from trees in the wild – though species commonly found across most of the US will of course not have lemons as part of their natural diet.

But even when they would not naturally eat lemon, some birds will have a taste. Most, however, will prefer sweeter fruit and will simply not be interested in this sour one.

Can Birds Eat Lemons?

Wild birds living where lemon trees naturally grow may sometimes peck at lemons and sip the lemon juice within.

Other wild birds, however, even those that typically eat fruit, will not often wish to have a go at a lemon, because of their sourness and acidity. Most birds will therefore avoid these fruits on the whole and focus on sweeter treats.

But when lemons are cut open, or lemon slices are hung in a garden, several birds might take a little taste of this extremely tart fruit.

Do Birds Eat Lemon Peel?

Birds do not tend to eat the lemon peel. But some birds may peck at the skin to obtain essential oil that they rub in their feathers to repel pest species.

Most birds will not be able to peck through the other skin and rind of a lemon to reach the flesh and juice within.

So, if offering lemon to birds, it will typically have to be cut open or sliced into rings to allow the birds to access it.

If you have a lemon tree and notice that something has eaten the peel leaving the peeled fruit on the tree – a rat is most likely to be the culprit. Some other animals like squirrels will also sometimes eat lemon peels.

Which Birds Eat Lemons?

Birds like cockatiels and parrots are known to sometimes pose a problem for those trying to grow these fruit trees in their gardens, or a commercial growing system, as these are birds that are known to eat lemons on occasion.

These birds will often also accept a taste of lemon when they are kept as pets.

Backyard chickens will also often happily peck at the flesh of a lemon when they are offered.

Orioles and other fruit-eating birds will tend to prefer sweeter fruits. But they may sip a little from a lemon slice or lemon half placed out in the garden.

Do Birds Eat Limes/ Oranges and Other Citrus Fruits?

Limes, like lemons, are a very sour fruit and so will not be a favorite for many birds. However, like lemons, some birds may eat their fresh or sip a little of the juice from within them.

Oranges, on the other hand, are often much sweeter and these, and other less tart citrus fruits, are popular with many garden and pet birds.

Oranges are definitely a favorite for orioles, who are attracted to the color orange and the sweet taste of their juice. There are also many other fruit-eating birds that will enjoy having access to oranges in the garden.

Are Lemons Good for Birds?

Lemons

Lemon is rich in vitamin C and other nutrients, so can be a healthy addition to the diet of a wide range of birds when they are willing to have a taste.

The vitamin C and antioxidants present in lemons can help chickens and other birds build a robust immune system and lay better eggs.

One thing to note however is that, while lemons can be good for many pet birds like parrots when offered in moderation, they are very acidic. This means that like other acidic foods, lemon should never be fed too frequently or it can lead to digestive issues.

Another important thing to note is that you should not feed sweetened lemon products like lemonade to birds, since too much sugar is bad for them. Anything containing honey is a no-no too.

One more thing to remember is that you should only provide organic fruits. Citrus skin can contain pesticides and these can be dangerous for birds, even in trace amounts.

How To Feed Lemon or Other Citrus to Birds

To feed lemon to wild birds, a backyard chicken flock, or pet birds, you will usually either cut the fruit in half or cut it into slices so that the birds can access the flesh and juice within.

As mentioned above, however, oranges and other sweeter citrus fruits will often be preferred. These too can be cut open and left at a bird table, or sliced up and placed in the garden.

You can also dry lemon or other citrus fruit slices and hang these up for birds to enjoy. Why not use a dried scooped-out lemon or other citrus halves to make a bird feeder filled with fat and seeds? Or other food sources for birds to enjoy in winter.

Hang Lemon or Other Citrus Slices for Fruit-Eating Birds

While you could try hanging some lemon slices, orange slices are far more likely to be preferred by the birds visiting your garden. But you can try any citrus foods to see whether they appeal to the specific birds found where you live.

Use Dried Lemon or Other Citrus Slices To Make a Bird Feeder

You can also dry lemon or other citrus slices and add seeds and other ingredients to cater to as many different birds in your garden as possible.

Use Scooped-Out Lemon or Other Citrus Halves To Make a Bird Feeder

You might also place a fat ball within a dried lemon or another citrus half with the flesh scooped out to give backyard birds a boost – especially in the winter months.

Conclusion

Just remember that while there is no harm in leaving lemons out for birds, they often won’t be a preferred food source.

The best thing you can do for your feathered friends is to find out more about their natural diets, and plant native species in your garden to provide the foods that these particular species most like to eat.

Growing your own food for birds is not only cheaper than buying it, but also a far more sustainable and eco-friendly choice.

So rather than focusing on foods you might provide that are imported from far and wide, focus on foods that can be grown locally in your area, or, ideally, in your own backyard.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.