You may be familiar with sesame seeds as the tiny seeds are often seen on the top of bread rolls or buns. They are a healthy and tasty addition to the human diet.
But are they also a food source for birds? Which birds eat them? Are they a beneficial addition to an avian diet? And if so, how should you provide them to the wild birds that share your space?
Read on to find out more about raw sesame seeds and whether or not they are a good choice when feeding the birds in your garden.
Do Birds Eat Sesame Seeds?
Sesame seeds are indeed a food source for a range of birds. They are a common and popular addition to backyard bird feeders and are frequently chosen as a supplemental food source for backyard birds.
These seeds are popular with many common backyard birds that eat seeds—including those smaller birds that can sometimes find larger seeds harder to handle.
The sesame seed comes from a species of flowering plant called Sesamum indicum, which originates from wild plants native to Africa and parts of India and is naturalized in other tropical regions around the world.
It is not a United States’ native plant and thus is not a part of the natural diet of wild birds in this part of the world or other temperate climate zones.
But this does not mean that it is not eaten by birds in these regions when it is offered in bird feeders or at bird tables or other bird feeding stations.
Which Birds Eat Sesame Seeds?
Sesame seeds are a preferred food source for many seed-eating birds, including buntings, chickadees, crossbills, finches, nutcrackers, nuthatches, redpolls, and sparrows, and many more.
Most birds that eat seeds of any kind will eat sesame seeds when these are offered in a garden or seed feeder. They are a good source of nutrition!
Are Sesame Seeds Good For Birds?
So, we have learned above that birds often consume sesame seeds and seem to enjoy doing so. But just because birds like to eat something, that does not necessarily mean that it is a healthy option.
Are sesame seeds a beneficial addition to the diets of wild birds?
The answer is that they can be extremely healthy. But only in moderation. These seeds are a great source of dietary fats, protein, dietary fiber, and many essential vitamins and other nutrients.
However, these seeds have an extremely high-fat content, and too much fat can be detrimental for birds just as it can be detrimental to us.
Sesame seeds do have plenty of benefits within the diet of a bird. But the nutritional profile is not as ideal as some other seeds, so this should be considered as an addition to a mixed feed, rather than as a stand-alone food source for garden birds.
The sesame seeds that we humans eat are typically lightly toasted. Toasted sesame seeds won’t harm pet birds. But raw seeds are best as they have a slightly better nutrient profile.
Can Birds Eat Salted Sesame Seeds?
One important thing to remember, however, is that while sesame seeds on their own are perfectly safe and healthy for garden birds to eat in moderation, you should not feed the birds any sesame seeds that have salt, or other added ingredients.
Salt can be very harmful to birds, even in relatively small quantities.
Can Birds Have Tahini?
Tahini is typically made from roasted sesame seeds, which are soaked in salt water before toasting. So again, these contain salt which is not a great option for birds.
However, raw tahini, prepared with just blended soaked raw seeds, not soaked in salt water, could potentially be prepared at home and used this could be perfectly safe and healthy to feed to birds in small amounts.
Can Birds Have Sesame Oil?
Sesame oil is not harmful to birds on its own.
Though if you have some leftovers containing this that you want to leave out for the birds, always make sure that you think about what else was added to the recipe, and make sure there is nothing that could pose a health risk to birds.
Just make sure that you don’t offer any oily substances in such a way that they can get onto birds’ feathers since this can pose a risk by impairing their flight.
How to Provide Sesame Seeds for Birds
When thinking about providing food for birds, the first step should always be to make sure you plan and plant your garden to make it as bird-friendly as possible.
Through your planting schemes, by choosing a range of native plants, you can provide habitat for a range of bird species and plenty of food for them to eat through much of the year.
Only once you have thought about how you can plant for birds and provide native, natural food sources should you think about other things that you might plant, or purchase, to provide further food for your feathered friends.
You might provide sesame seeds for birds by planting them in your garden (where these plants will grow) or by buying sesame seeds to add to a bird feeding area.
Planting Sesame Seeds for Birds
Sesame was introduced into the United States in the 1930s, though historical documentation indicates that Thomas Jefferson grew sesame seed in test plots more than 200 years ago.
Today, this crop is commercially grown in the south. Almost all commercial production is in Texas and Oklahoma, with limited acreage in Kansas and Florida.
Those living in warmer, long-summer regions with warm, relatively dry, and free-draining soils may well be able to grow sesame seeds in their own garden.
Of course, you won’t be able to grow a vast quantity unless you have a larger tract of land. But you might wish to experiment a little and grow some sesame, both for your consumption and to share with the birds in your garden.
This can be a sustainable and eco-friendly choice, since, of course, we should grow whatever we can ourselves to reduce our consumption and limit our reliance on large-scale, non-sustainable, non-organic, and harmful agricultural systems.
Naturally, those living further north will find it very challenging to grow this crop. So it might be best to consider growing seed-producing plants that will grow well in your area.
Sunflowers, for example, are one seed-producing plant that many US gardeners will be able to grow.
Serving Sesame Seeds to Birds at a Bird Table or Bird Feeder
Those living in regions in or close to places where sesame seeds can be grown could purchase these seeds locally, even if they do not grow them in their own backyards.
This means that they can be a more eco-friendly choice since the seeds won’t have to be transported a long way to reach you. Try to choose organic options wherever possible.
If, however, you cannot source these seeds locally, remember that buying locally available seeds and other bird food options will be a more earth-friendly and wildlife-friendly choice.
Sesame seeds can, as mentioned above, be offered hulled or unhulled.
These raw, fresh sesame seeds can be a great choice when offered in moderation, though are best offered alongside other types of seeds to provide a more balanced mix and to cater to as many different birds as possible.
Sprouted Sesame Seeds
One other option to consider when feeding sesame seeds to birds is to offer sprouted seeds. These can offer great nutritional benefits, and reduce the fat content of sesame seeds.
However, care must be taken to avoid introducing pathogens that can cause harm to people or birds.
A good rule of thumb is to think about what you would eat. If you would not be confident in eating the sprouted seeds yourself then ideally you should not offer them to the birds.
Any sprouted seeds fit for human consumption would make a valuable addition to a bird’s diet.