If you have some leftovers that you are not going to eat yourself, you might be thinking about avoiding waste and helping our feathered friends at the same time by feeding some to the birds.
But can birds eat papaya, and if they can, is it a good idea to feed it to them?
Papaya, or pawpaw, is a tropical fruit that is indeed eaten by many birds and is very good for them. But buying it, especially for this purpose is not good for our planet.
And embracing fruits native to your area for yourself and the birds is generally a far more eco-friendly choice.
So the American pawpaw, which can be grown more widely in the Eastern US, could be one more sustainable option to consider. It is also a popular food for a wide range of birds.
Do Birds Eat Papaya?
The papaya is a tropical fruit, which comes from the Carica papaya tree. It is a small tree growing 5-10m in height which is native to tropical America in southern Mexico and Central America.
In the tropical forests where this tree is found, and throughout the tropical regions where it is grown, many birds are known to feast on the flesh of the fruits.
Which Birds Eat Papaya?
In their native range, and in tropical areas where these trees have been introduced, many fruit-eating birds will eat the fruits.
Interestingly, even birds not familiar with papaya as a natural food source will, in temperate climes, also very happily eat papaya when it is offered at a bird table or other feeding station.
Is Papaya Safe For Birds?
The good news is that the flesh of the papaya fruit is perfectly safe for birds to eat.
However, one small note of caution is that the skin contains latex, which some parrots and other birds may have an allergy to.
So if you plan on feeding papaya to pet birds or the birds in your garden then it is best to peel off the skin before you serve it.
As usual, when feeding fruits to birds, you should also be cautious about feeding non-organic options, since these can be adulterated with harmful chemicals that might pose a threat to the birds you are trying to feed.
Is Papaya Good For Birds?
Not only is papaya safe for birds, but it can also be very good for them in moderation as part of a balanced, healthy diet.
Raw papaya pulp contains 88% water, 11% carbohydrates, and negligible amounts of fat and protein.
This fruit contains high levels of healthy fats, protein, magnesium, fiber, calcium, and phosphorus, which make it a kind of ‘superfood’ for birds as well as for us.
Can Birds Eat Papaya Seeds?
Peppery papaya seeds are also eaten by birds and are healthy for birds to eat. In the wild, birds are known to eat the seeds because they are well-known to be anti-parasitic.
Eating them rids the birds of potentially harmful internal parasites. The seeds also contain the digestive enzyme papain.
Backyard birds in other areas where papayas do not naturally grow may also eat the seeds, and if they do so, they will derive the same benefits as the birds do which eat these naturally in the wild.
Can You Grow Papaya For Birds in the US?
Papaya is not native to any part of the United States. However, it was introduced to southern Florida no later than 300 CE and it grows well in that portion of the US.
Papaya is found in abundance on Everglades hammocks following major hurricanes but is otherwise infrequent outside of garden cultivation.
Unfortunately, papaya cannot be grown anywhere else in the temperate United States outdoors. So if you are looking to grow your own fruits to feed the birds as well as yourself, then you will have to look at options suited to the climate where you live.
Sadly, this means that if you live in the US and want to eat papaya yourself or feed it to the birds, this fruit is an exotic that has to travel a long way to reach you. Eating exotic fruits comes at a cost – and not only a financial one.
Unfortunately, buying fruits from far afield raises your carbon footprint, is bad for our planet, and is not the best choice if you really want to do the right thing for the birds you are trying to aid.
The Carica papaya is sometimes also called pawpaw. But there is another fruit that is native to the US also given this name. So could this be a better choice for some when they are looking for fruits to share with the birds in their gardens?
Can Birds Eat American Pawpaw?
The American pawpaw is the fruit of a small deciduous tree or large shrub, Asimina triloba, which is native to the eastern United States and Canada.
Pawpaw fruits are the largest edible fruit indigenous to the United States.
These fruits have a sweet, custard-like flavor that makes them popular not only with humans but also with a wide range of birds in the areas where they grow.
Can You Grow American Pawpaw For Birds in the US?
Wherever you live, selecting local species to plant in your garden that can provide food for birds, as well as for you, is a great sustainable, and eco-friendly choice.
In the Eastern US, growing this tree could be a wonderful way to provide a food source for local birds – far better than importing exotic fruits from abroad.
It makes a great under-story tree for a food forest in USDA plant hardiness zones 5 to 8.
How To Feed Papaya/ Pawpaw To Birds
When feeding papaya or American pawpaw to birds, chop up sections of the flesh of the fruits and leave this in a suitable location such as a bird table where your local birds can access them without fear of predation.
With American pawpaw, the seeds are poisonous. They contain a toxic alkaloid and should be removed.
And due to the latex content, it is best also to remove the skin of papayas when feeding these to pet birds or to the birds in your garden.