What Fruits Do Birds Eat? What Fruits Should You Put Out For Birds?

June 1, 2022 // 14 minute read

Articles » Bananas & Berries & Grapes, Oh My!

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While seeds remain the number one source of energy for many birds, fruits have also become one of the favorites. There’s even a whole group of birds called Frugivorous birds that specialize in eating fruits. So, we’re here to answer this question: What Fruits Do Birds Eat? If you don’t start giving fruits in your backyard, you’ll be missing out on a big group of birds that might visit you. 

But does that mean we can already feed birds any fruits found in our kitchen? 

Well, not exactly. There are only a number of fruits you can feed to birds that will not endanger them, and that’s what we’ll discuss in this article. We’ll talk about: 

  • The bird diet
  • Types of fruits birds eat
  • Bird species that eat fruit
  • How to serve fruits to birds
  • What not to serve
  • FAQs

If you’re interested in attracting more birds to your backyard by using fruits, read on… 

The Bird Diet

A bird’s nutrition relies heavily on its diet. And depending on the species, they eat a variety of food, including: 

  • Seeds
  • Insects
  • Flowers
  • Nectar
  • Sap
  • Fruits
  • Mollusks
  • Small animals

They are classified into many groups and categories, and those that eat fruits are referred to as frugivores or fruit-eating specialists. Examples of birds belonging to this group are orioles, waxwings, and toucans. 

Some seed-eating and omnivorous birds like the finches, tanagers, jays, quails, and ducks would eat fruits when available to them. 

Related article: Guide To The Best Bird Seed: Birdwatcher’s Helpful Tips 2022

Types of Fruit That Birds Eat

Birds can eat a variety of fruits. In fact, many fruits that humans can eat are suitable for birds. So, does this already mean we can feed birds any fruit we find on our kitchen counter? 

Well, not really. If you still want to be on the safe side, you may want to stick with the following fruits instead… 

1. Bananas

Thanks to their sweet and soft flesh, bananas are one of the fruits that birds will keep on coming back to. Even if you just chop them and leave them out in a platform feeder, birds would feed on them directly, no problem. However, you should also know that most birds would prefer if you mash the bananas first, so it’s easier to eat. 

Bananas are highly nutritious for birds. The fruit contains magnesium, vitamin B, iron, and vitamin A which help keep birds healthy. It also has a small amount of fiber that can aid the birds’ digestion. 

Important Note: Serve the bananas in small quantities only. 

Bananas have a high percentage of sugar that can be dangerous for birds when consumed at higher levels. 

2. Berries

If you’re thinking of irresistible treats for birds, nothing would be better than berries. It’s even one of the most recommended fruits to plant around your home as these fruits are one of the primary sources of calories and nutrients for birds in winter. 

A few berries that are highly recommended that you plant or give birds are: 

  • Elderberries: These berries will bring lots of birds to your backyard. On top of that, the nectar acts as a bird’s superfood, thanks to the high content of vitamins A, B, and C. 
  • Mulberries: These berries are native to the US and are an excellent food source for birds, especially in the summer. It contains a high amount of nutrients, including vitamins K and C, iron, calcium, potassium, and phosphorus. 
  • Blueberries: Another US native tree, blueberries are perfect to plant in your backyard. They contain vitamins C, B6, and A, potassium, and many antioxidants that keep birds healthy. 
  • Raspberries: If you love towhees and sparrows, planting raspberries will surely help attract them. The plant can provide birds shelter when needed, and they are also high in vitamins and antioxidants. 
  • Strawberries: Do you always have strawberries in your kitchen? You can share some with the birds that visit your bird feeders. Like other berries, these are rich in vitamins and antioxidants, making them an excellent nutritional source for birds. 
  • Blackberries: Another common berry you can give to birds are blackberries. The plant can be invasive in some regions, so you must be careful if you choose to plant them. If not, you can buy some at the market and give the birds some a few times a week. 

The berries have high amounts of nutrients beneficial to birds, like antioxidants, vitamin C, fiber, and vitamin A. 

  • Dogwood: Dogwood berries are high in fat, making them an excellent food source for migrating birds who need to fatten up to gather more energy before flying off. It’s also beneficial for winter birds to eat these berries to help them preserve some warmth. 
  • Holly: The nice thing about these berries is they come in a wide range of colors – yellow, orange, red, white, and even black. They also attract many kinds of birds, including woodpeckers and bluebirds. 
  • Juniper: Help birds survive even during the winter season by planting a Juniper. This plant is strong and can provide shelter and food for the winter birds. Their fruits, however, may not be as tasty as the rest on this list, but they contain a significant amount of nutrients. 
  • Serviceberries: You may probably know these berries as shadbush or juneberry. Many people in the culinary world love these berries. But as it turns out, it’s not only the chefs that love them, robins and waxwings love these berries, too. 

Those are only 10 of the many berries you can serve birds. Technically, any berry that you can eat (or even cannot eat because you don’t like the taste) you can give to birds. 

Berries have a very high nutritional value which the birds need to keep themselves healthy. On top of that, because you can plant them in your backyard, it gives your backyard more color, which helps attract more birds. 

3. Apples

Apples are delicious and highly nutritious fruits, that’s why they’re always present in our kitchen. And as it turns out, this fruit doesn’t only make us healthy, it can make birds healthy, too. 

Apples are high in vitamins A and C, magnesium, and potassium, which is very beneficial for birds as it keeps their body functioning well. The fruit also has a small amount of fiber that can help with digestion, and it’s a great source of protein, too. 

However, although the fruit is nutritious, it should be offered to birds as a treat. Like bananas, apples have sugar which is bad for birds when consumed at high levels. 

When feeding apples to birds, make sure you wash them well and then slice them into manageable pieces. It’s okay to leave the skin on, but make sure you remove the seeds before serving them to the birds. 

4. Grapes

Grapes are another bird favorite. Because they are smaller, they are easily picked out by birds. They’re also very sweet with a high level of fructose that can help give birds energy. 

Like the other fruits in this list, grapes are a great source of vitamins, potassium, and fiber, which help keep the birds healthy. However, feeding birds with grapes needs to be limited, probably only once or twice a week. 

Because there’s high sugar content, grapes can make birds fat, making it harder for the birds to fly around and survive. 

5. Oranges

Last but not least, we have oranges. 

Many birds love oranges, including tanagers, finches, and cardinals. But there’s one bird who can’t resist this fruit – orioles. If you wish to attract orioles, you can never go wrong with hanging some oranges in your backyard or anything orange-colored at all. 

Oranges are high in Vitamin C, which can help build a bird’s immune system. To serve them, all you need is to slice them in half, place them in a platform feeder or orange feeder, and you’re all set. 

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Bird Species That Eat Fruits

Now that we know the different fruits birds can eat, let’s explore some of the most common backyard birds that love fruits and see what kind of fruits they love to eat. 

Bird SpeciesFruits They Eat
American RobinBerries such as blueberries, holly, juniper, and mulberries; small tree fruits like dogwood and cherries; wild and domesticated grapes
Baltimore OrioleOranges, apples, peaches, berries, and bananas; dried fruit; grape jelly and orange marmalade
Eastern BluebirdApples, pears, raspberries, blackberries, and cranberries; dried fruits
House FinchCherries, apricots, strawberries, plums, figs, blackberries, pears, and peaches
Rose-breasted GrosbeakBlackberries, cherries, strawberries, and elderberries
Black-capped ChickadeeBerries including serviceberries, bayberries, blackberries, and blueberries
Gray CatbirdDogwood, cherries, serviceberries, and winterberries
Purple FinchApples, bananas ,blueberries, apricots, and blackberries
Western TanagerBananas, strawberries, mulberries, blackcurrants, and whortleberries; dried fruit
Cedar WaxwingRaspberries, serviceberries, mulberries, and strawberries; cedar berries in winter
Ruby-crowned KingletPoison-oak berries and dogwood berries
Black-headed GrosbeakElderberries and poison oak berries; orchard fruits like plums, apricots, blackberries, cherries, mulberries, and crabapples
Bohemian WaxwingStrawberries, raspberries, mountain ash, cranberries, mulberries, serviceberries, hawthorn, and apples; dried fruit
Summer TanagerBananas, oranges, mulberries, and blackberries
Indigo BuntingBerries like blueberries, elderberries, strawberries, serviceberries, and blackberries are the birds’ favorite
Tufted TitmouseBlueberries and mulberries 
Scarlet TanagerOranges; raisins; berries such as elderberries and mulberries
Red-bellied WoodpeckerApples, grapes, cherries, oranges, blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries
European StarlingApples, plums, cherries, and pears; berries like mulberries, hackberries, and blackberries
Blue JayApples and grapes; berries including raspberries, strawberries, and elderberries
Northern MockingbirdApples, oranges, bananas, and grapes; dried fruit like raisins
Yellow-bellied SapsuckerApples, grapes, and berries
Bullock’s OrioleOranges; blackberries, cherries, raspberries, and figs
Northern CardinalDogwood, grapes, mulberries, blackberries, and hackberries
Wood ThrushSpicebush, elderberries, holly, blueberries, dogwood, and black cherries
House SparrowApples, peaches, plums, cherries, berries, and grapes
Brown ThrasherCherries and grapes; berries like holly, blueberries, huckleberries, hackberries, strawberries, raspberries, and pokeberries 
House WrenOranges, apples, pears, plums, grapes, and berries
Yellow-rumped WarblerMost common fruits they eat are bayberries and wax myrtle; Other fruits include juniper berries, grapes, dogwood, and poison oak; raisins
Northern FlickerDogwood, bayberries, elderberries, hackberries, cherries, and grapes

Among all the fruits in this list, we can say that birds love berries the best, which is not surprising because wild berries are almost available anywhere. On top of that, there’s very little danger even if they eat too many of these berries, especially if it’s only one of the many things they have available for winter. 

Serving Fruits To Birds

Now that you know what fruits to give to birds, let’s talk about how you can serve them. 

Plant Fruit Trees, Bushes, and Shrubs

If you wish to attract birds using fruits, the first thing you can do is to plant some in your backyard. Berries are a great start. Birds love berries, but it’s good to grow berries that are safe to consume by all kinds of wildlife, so you’re not endangering anyone. 

Some berries you can plant are: 

  • Blackberry
  • Blueberry
  • Chokeberry
  • Winterberry
  • Strawberry
  • Elderberry
  • Crabapple
  • Hawthorn
  • Mulberry
  • Eastern Red Cedar
  • Cranberry
  • Serviceberry

You can also plant fruit trees like cherries and some vines like grapes. 

Once you’ve grown some fruit-bearing plants in your backyard, avoid or minimize your use of pesticides and herbicides. These chemicals are harmful to birds and can cause poisoning when they ingest berries with them. 

bird eating fruit off of tree branch
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Photo by Spoortesh Honey on Pexels.com

Use a Platform Feeder

You can also serve slices of fruits on a platform feeder for the birds to go to and eat. 

You need to wash the fruits thoroughly and slice them in sizes that birds can easily grab and eat. There’s no need for you to peel the skin. Simply slice, serve on platform feeders, and then wait for the birds to feast on them. 

You can do this for apples, grapes, bananas, and maybe on some larger berries. 

Use a Suet Cage

The problem with platform feeders is that any animal can access them. However, if you only aim to feed or attract the smaller song birds, then placing the fruits inside a suet cage is a great idea. 

Create a DIY Fruit Feeder

DIY fruit feeders are very common, especially if you want a feeder that can hold a specific fruit. This is commonly done by bird watchers who love attracting orioles with oranges. 

If you want to try and make one now, here’s one bird feeder idea that you might love… 

Fruit Garland Bird Feeder

This one is very easy. All you need are your slices of fruit, a thread, and a needle. 

Start by deciding how long you want the garland to be, minimum is usually 3 feet, so you can have lots of fruits there. Cut a thread about 2x your desired garland length, and then fold it, so you have a thicker thread.

Attach the needle to the edge of the thread and start passing the needle through each of your fruit. Interchange between the fruit slices, like apples, grapes, oranges, then apples again. This way, you can create a colorful garland. 

Once done, cut the thread where the needle is and tie the knot. Your garland is now ready!

Find a spot in your backyard and wait for the birds to feast on them. 

You can make the same version of this strictly just for oranges. All you need is to use a wire instead of a needle. Slice your oranges, insert them through the wire, and hang the feeder in your backyard. 

Having an orange feeder will make it easier to attract orioles. 

If you need more creative bird feeder inspirations, check out the video below… 

What Not To Serve

While birds can eat most fruits that we humans eat, there is one particular fruit that can be toxic to birds – Avocado. 

In particular, it’s the leaves of the avocado plant that can be very toxic. It is said that the leaves contain persin, which can cause heart damage, weakness, or even death to birds when ingested. 

There may be certain types of avocados that birds can eat, but if you want to be on the safe side, just skip the idea of serving avocados to birds or even planting one in your backyard. It’s also not recommended to give birds avocado-containing foods like guacamole.

FAQs on Fruits That Birds Eats

What fruits do birds like the most?

Birds can eat various fruits, even fruits that may be toxic to humans. However, if we’re only going to consider their favorite, the list would include: 

  1. Apples
  2. Cherries
  3. Elderberries
  4. Oranges
  5. Plums
  6. Grapes

You can plant these fruits in your garden or backyard to help attract birds easier. 

Do birds also like dried fruit? 

Yes, birds also like dried fruit. 

If you don’t have any fresh fruits available in your kitchen, you can buy some dried fruit mixes, and birds will consume them just as well as they would with the fresh ones. One particular dried fruit they would love is raisins. 

How can I attract fruit-eating birds? 

Like with other birds, you need to provide the birds with their basic needs – food, shelter, and water. 

Plant many fruit-bearing trees, shrubs, and bushes in your backyard to help call birds to come. Having these plants will not only serve as a food source for birds, but it can also be their shelter. 

Then, make sure you have a birdbath provided so the birds would think that your place has everything they really need. 

Will birds get diarrhea from eating fruits? 

No, the birds won’t get diarrhea from eating fruits. Fruits contain a good amount of fiber, which is beneficial for improving a bird’s digestion. However, while fruits can’t cause diarrhea, it’s still best to serve them in moderate amounts. 

Final Thoughts on Whether Birds Eat Fruit

Fruits are one of the primary food sources for birds. You can see them anywhere throughout the continent, so they’re readily available for resident and migrating birds. On top of that, they are present all-year-round providing birds the energy they need for winter. 

A lot of fruits these birds love are available in your own kitchen: 

  1. Apples
  2. Bananas
  3. Grapes
  4. Pears
  5. Cherries

You can also plant some berries in your garden to make your backyard appear more colorful, attracting more birds to come and visit. 

Serving only seeds is not enough to call many birds’ attention. Yes, it will attract certain birds, but a variety of food means attracting many birds, too. And serving fruits might just be the key thing you need if you wish to attract stunning birds like the Baltimore Orioles and Blue Jays. 

Use this guide if you want to get more idea of what fruits to have to attract specific bird species, and of course, to have an idea on how to serve the fruits. 

References: 

what fruits do birds eat
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