Feeding wild birds that visit your yard is one life’s most enjoyable pastimes. It’s fun to see how our feathered friends react to different seeds and fruit. But, not everything that is tasty to us is healthy for birds.
So, you’ll want to know, can birds eat dates? The quick answer is yes, birds can eat dates…
Dates are perfectly safe for birds to eat, and may well become a flock favourite once you’ve convinced them to give the fruit a try. Not only are dates a sweet treat, but they are also a nutritious addition to a bird’s healthy diet.
However, you shouldn’t go scattering dates across your yard just yet. You should know a few things first, to ensure that you serve them up in the way that is safest — and most palatable — to the birds.
Let’s start by going over the best ways to prepare dates for avian consumption.
How Do I Prepare Dates For Birds To Eat?
Don’t be intimidated by this question. Dates are not difficult to prepare. In fact, there is really only one required step. You must remove the seed.
As you have likely observed, many birds attempt to swallow large chunks of food whole. While a larger bird can likely gulp the soft flesh of dates, the seed is large enough to pose a choking hazard, as well as digestion issues.
The simple solution is to remove the seed from all dates before putting them out to be eaten.
Once the seed is gone, you’re left with perfectly safe, edible fruit. But, just like other fruits, the nature of dates varies depending upon how ripe they are. This, in turn, impacts how best to present them to birds
When purchasing dates, you may see the words “khalal,” “rutob,” or “Tamar” on the packaging. These three words are Urdu, and they designate how ripe the dates are.
Khalal dates are light tan in colour, with smooth skin and firm flesh. They are similar in texture to an apple, and are best served halved, or diced. Don’t mix them with dry feed, as the moisture content can cause mould and rot.
Dates labelled rutob or Tamar are most common. They have dark brown, wrinkly skin, and a sticky sweet interior. They can be served whole or chopped into bite-size pieces. They can also be mashed together with seeds to make seed balls.
Last, there are dried dates. These are usually sold chopped into pieces that are perfect for birds. They have a soft consistency, often compared to caramel, and are the sweetest of the variants. Dried dates a perfect addition to a seed mix due to their lack of moisture.
Are Dates Good For Birds?
Knowing how to prep dates is only part of the equation. You’ve learned a few new recipes as an animal-loving chef, but now it’s time to think more like a dietitian.
I mentioned at the beginning that dates are nutritious. This is not only true for birds, as dates belong to the category of “superfoods.” This means that they have exceptional nutrient density.
Birds require many of the same nutrients as humans but in different proportions. For instance, calcium is of huge importance to birds. This is not only because it reinforces their delicate bones, but it is needed for proper egg formation.
Dates are rich in calcium, making them a perfect addition to the diet. They are also fantastic sources of antioxidants. These compounds are essential for combating free radicals, atoms in the body that damage healthy cells.
Wild birds often consume plants and insects that have been exposed to pesticides or other pollutants. The consumption of these toxins creates free radicals in their bodies, resulting in a variety of ailments. The antioxidants in dates help to prevent this.
This superfruit has much more to offer, however, packing a wallop of:
- Vitamin B6
Yet, with all the positives, you should only feed dates to your flying friends in moderation. This is because they also have very high sugar content.
Birds can get diabetes just like a human can, so take care that you don’t overindulge their sweet tooth.