Can Birds Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds? (Let’s Find Out!)

The easiest way to welcome beautiful birds to your backyard is by feeding them and believe me, you’ll love watching them eat and chirp. However, in order to coax birds into your home, you need to feed them what they love. And most of you will be wondering, can birds eat salted sunflower seeds?

No, birds cannot eat salted sunflower seeds. In fact, birds should not be fed anything with higher quantities of salt. Even the smallest amount of salt can damage the fluid balance in birds’ bodies, causing dehydration, and excessive thirst, ultimately leading to death.

Can Birds Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds

So what should I feed them?

You can feed them any type of unsalted seeds including sunflower seeds.

In this article, I will discuss more in detail about feeding sunflower seeds to birds, how to choose sunflower seeds for birds, and a lot more, so if you’re a bird owner or bird watcher, you must scroll through.

Are Sunflower Seeds Good For Birds?

Yes, sunflower seeds are good for birds. But if you are asking, is it ok to give birds salted sunflower seeds, that’s a strict no.

Plain, un-roasted, and unsalted sunflower seeds are healthy and beneficial for the birds as they are a good source of fat and protein necessary to keep birds healthy. It provides them with enough energy, especially during winters. Sunflower seeds are also rich in vitamin B, calcium, potassium, and iron, making them a healthy treat.

Are Sunflower Seeds Good For Birds

To keep it safe, go for specially formulated sunflower seeds for birds. Pet stores also offer unshelled sunflower seeds making it easier for your birds to peck on. Unshelled seeds, also known as the sunflower hearts, are the cracked seeds with the shell removed.

These have the same nutrition as shelled sunflower seeds but are easier for small birds or birds with softbills to eat. Sunflower hearts are also easier for chicks to eat as they don’t have to waste energy cracking open the kernel.

But you may have to spend some extra bucks on sunflower hearts than buying shelled sunflower seeds. But if you don’t like seeing your birdies wasting their energy on opening the shell, it is worth the price.

Here is a better look at nutritional facts of sunflower seeds (30gm) source.

  • Sodium- 9mg
  • Protein- 5.5g
  • Fiber- 3g
  • Niacin- 10% (RDI)
  • Vitamin B6- 11% (RDI)
  • Vitamin E- 37% (RDI)
  • Iron- 6% (RDI)
  • Magnesium- 9% (RDI)
  • Folate- 17% (RDI)

Moreover, many birdkeepers ask can birds eat roasted salted sunflower seeds or will salted sunflower seeds hurt birds.

Roasted or salted sunflower seeds may be a nutritious treat for you but not for the birds. One ounce of roasted sunflower seeds has approximately 170 mg of sodium which is dangerous for any bird.

Apart from sodium, these may have other preservatives, which birds are not supposed to eat.

What Are The Different Types Of Sunflower Seeds?

You’ll find two types of sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, and black oil sunflower seeds. But based on production and processing, we can find other varieties like sunflower hearts and sunflower heart chips.

Which ones are best for birds? How to choose sunflower seeds for birds? Let’s have a look at how these differ from each other and find out which varieties birds love the most.

1. Striped Sunflower Seeds

Types Of Sunflower Seeds

Striped sunflower seeds are the whole seed directly collected from the sunflower plant. It comes with a black and white striped outer shell and is longer than the other variants.

These have a high protein and fat content beneficial for providing enough energy to the birds. Striped ones are also the cheapest sunflower seeds for birds than black oil seeds or sunflower hearts.

But birds don’t prefer having striped sunflower seeds a lot as the hard shell makes it difficult to peck.

2. Black Oil Sunflower Seeds

As the name says, black oil seeds have more oil than the regular striped ones, and they are cultivated from black oil seed sunflowers. Even though these whole seeds come with an outer shell, they are not as hard as the striped ones.

The husks of black oil seeds are much softer, so your garden birds won’t struggle to strip it open. Due to their high oil content, black seeds have more calorific value.

Which birds eat black sunflower seeds? Black seeds are favorite for birds like – chickadees, nuthatches, black-billed magpies, etc.

3. Sunflower Hearts

Sunflower hearts are the inner part of the seed. With the husk removed, birds find it easier to eat sunflower hearts. We can get sunflower hearts from both the normal stripped and black oil seeds, but the black ones are more popular due to their high nutritional value.

Sunflower hearts are more convenient for feeding smaller birds or birds with soft beaks since they don’t have to waste any energy to open the shells.

4. Sunflower Heart Chips

These are even smaller parts of the sunflower heart, made into small chips. Sunflower heart chips are more convenient for tiny birds with very soft beaks.

Which Birds Eat Sunflower Seeds?

Well, almost all seed loving birds eat sunflower seeds. But most of them prefer the hearts or the black seed varieties as they are easy to eat. Here are some common bird species that love eating sunflower seeds.

1. Finches

Finches are small birds with pointed beaks. They love eating sunflower seeds, and as small birds, they don’t need too much food to keep them full.

2. Sparrows

Another bird that loves munching on sunflower seeds is sparrows. These mainly prefer black sunflower seeds as they are easier to eat.

3. Cardinals

Cardinals love eating seeds, fruits, and insects, so sunflower seeds will be a great treat for them. You can mix it with other seeds as well to make it a wholesome meal for these tiny birds.

4. Chickadees

Sunflower Seeds for Birds

Chickadees are very active and social birds. They love eating seeds, nuts, and beans, so throwing some sunflower seeds is the easiest way to attract them in your backyard.

5. Nuthatches

These short-tail birds love eating seeds, insects, and grains, so sunflower seeds are an excellent food. The name nuthatches come from the word nut hacker, justifying the bird’s love for nuts.

6. Pigeons

Pigeons are surely your regular visitors, and they would love to peck on some sunflower seeds in your backyard.

7. Black Billed Magpie

Black Billed Magpies are omnivorous birds, and they eat all sorts of food, including sunflower seeds, earthworms, grasshoppers, etc.

How To Feed Sunflower Seeds To Birds? 5 Easy Ways

You want your birds to enjoy the sunflower seeds without creating a big mess in your garden. Check out these five ways which will minimize waste and let your birds enjoy their seeds.

1. Keep Bird Feeders At Different Locations

Not all birds eat in the ground; some prefer to eat in the trees while others feed in shrubs. Keep suet feeders for birds like nuthatches and chickadees who like to feed off the ground.

For ground feeders like sparrows, towhees, juncoes, etc., keep table feeds and tube or hopper feeders for treetop feeding birds.

2. Tube Feeders

Classic Tube Feeder

Tube feeders are a simple yet convenient way to feed birds. These come with hoops making them easier to hang on trees or bird tables. Most tube feeders have multiple ports allowing more birds to feed at the same time.

3. Hopper Feeders

Twinkle Star Wild Bird Feeder

Hopper feeders are one of the best ways to feed sunflower seeds to your birds. These have an overhanging roof keeping the seeds protected from snow or rain, and letting your birds enjoy their meal. Hopper feeders also hold large quantities of seeds, so you have to fill them less often.

4. Use A Mesh Feeder

Mesh feeders are a great way to provide sunflower seeds to the birds. These let birds have small chunks preventing the risk of choking. Birds like sparrows, tits, etc., love feeding on mesh feeders.

5. Use Homemade Feeders

Homemade feeders like coconut shells or pine cones are yet another convenient way of feeding sunflower seeds. Keep some sunflower seeds in these and hang them on the bird table or trees to attract birds.


Q1: Can You Wash The Salt Off Sunflower Seeds For Birds?

Yes, you can wash the salt off sunflower seeds for birds. To remove the salt, keep the seeds soaked in water for about fifteen minutes, and it will get rid of all the sodium.

Q2: Can Squirrels Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

No, squirrels cannot eat salted sunflower seeds as it’s not healthy for their digestive system. You can feed them unsalted sunflower seeds, but it’s best to provide only small amounts.

Q3: Can Parakeets Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

Parakeets cannot eat salted sunflower seeds. Salt isn’t a part of the bird’s natural diet, but you can feed them plain unsalted ones.

Q4: What Other Types of Seeds Do Birds Eat?

Birds eat millet, flax seeds, niger, or thistle seed rapeseed, among a few apart from sunflower seeds.

Q5: Can Wild Birds Eat Salted Sunflower Seeds?

No, salted sunflower seeds are not safe for wild birds. You should only go for unsalted ones for wild birds too.

Q6: Can Birds Eat Roasted Sunflower Seeds?

Birds can eat roasted sunflower seeds if they are unsalted. Don’t feed salted ones as they aren’t healthy for the birds.

Final Thoughts

Sunflower seeds are a favorite treat for birds, and it’s a great way to attract different species to your garden. Even if you’re taking a stroll at the park, carry some seeds in your pocket and toss them to your feathery friends.

But salted sunflower seeds should never be fed to birds of any species, as it will only deteriorate their health. Whenever any of your friends ask if birds can eat salted sunflower seeds, share the link to this article, and educate them about feeding birds.

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