Can Birds Eat Fennel Seeds? The Surprising Answer!

Whenever the winter air gets hard on us, I’ve reached out for the fennel tea in my pantry. 

One sip instantly takes me back to fennel fields growing in the countryside as soon as the “Fall” arrives.

Like every other pet parent, I’ve been wondering, can I share this beneficial seed with my birds? Yes, they are. In fact, they are too good for birds to pass on.

However, this line alone won’t tell you the whole story. I did some digging around of my own.

After going through the rabbit hole that Google is, and from my own experience, my findings have been quite intriguing. Why not share it with everyone?

Today, I’ll share every tidbit you need to know to assess the safety of fennel seeds in your bird’s diet.

Are Fennel Seeds Safe for Birds?

If you’re unfamiliar with fennel seeds, here’s a brief detail of their history. 

Fennel belongs to the Apiaceae family, also known as the carrot family. Fennel originated in eastern Europe and has been a pantry staple in every region. 

Primarily harvested for its versatility, fennel has uses in every cuisine. Since the entire plant is edible, each part is utilized in certain dishes. The benefits are impeccable, to put it simply.

A bowl of fennel seeds

Birds are small sensitive creatures; hence, it’s essential to assess the safety of any new food before adding it to their diet.

In this section, we’re going to do just that.

Birds are opportunistic omnivores. In other words, their primary diet revolves around fresh vegetables and seeds. A diet with ample amounts of fiber and protein is ideal for birds.

Commercial bird foods include a variety of millets and seeds to aid with the fiber and protein content. Most seeds from the Apiaceae family are not entirely safe for birds; hence, fennel seeds are not opted by mass-produced bird food.

However, fennel seeds are perfectly safe for bird consumption. The entire plant is edible to birds.

What Are the Benefits of Fennel Seeds?

Fennel seeds are a great source of microminerals along with macronutrients. In simple words, fennel provides the best of both worlds in a bird’s diet.

Here’s a list of all the nutrients and their benefits fennel seeds have to offer:

  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Calorie-Deficit
  • High in Fiber
  • Protein
  • Carotene
Fennel seeds on a fennel plant

1. Potassium

It is an essential micromineral required to regulate blood pressure levels and fluid content in cells. 

Potassium deficiency can result in artery damage and muscle damage due to high blood pressure.

Fennel contains up to 352 mg of potassium, making it one of the most potassium-rich seeds to add to your bird’s diet.

2. Folate

It is a crucial part of a bird’s diet, especially during the breeding season. 

A deficiency of folate has resulted in egg-binding in domestic birds. Egg-binding has also been a rising cause of the extinction of exotic birds such as Kiwis.

Fennel is chock-full of folate, containing 34 mcg, which effortlessly suffices any bird’s daily requirements.

3. Calorie-Deficit

Each serving of fennel only contains 10 kcals and provides 40 J of energy, which makes it a great choice for seed as it won’t be filling like bread or spray millet while delivering essential nutrients.

4. High in Fiber

Fennel seeds withhold the ability to effortlessly aid a bird’s fiber intake in one serving as it has 2.6g of fiber.

Fiber is vital in a bird’s diet as birds have a much weaker digestive system than most animals. The added roughage prevents ileus in birds.

Green raw fennel seeds on a wooden table

5. Protein

Containing 0.7g of protein makes fennel seeds the best of both worlds as a daily supplement for birds.

Birds require protein-rich food to develop healthy muscles. A deficiency of protein can result in musculoskeletal diseases in birds.

6. Carotene

Vitamin A, also known as beta-carotene, is jam-packed into fennel seeds. Fennel seeds contain up to 112mcg carotene.

It aids in cognitive function and prevents feather infections in birds during the preening season. A deficiency of beta-carotene can result in blindness which can progress to starvation due to the inability to hunt.

You can opt for fennel seeds if your bird suffers from acid reflux and digestive diseases since it is an excellent antacid due to its alkaline properties and can neutralize the acidity in the stomach.

With a list of benefits this long, who cannot help but rush to the store to add fennel seeds to their bird’s diet that very instance? And that’s what I did!

Can Wild Birds Eat Fennel Seeds?

Suppose you live in the South Asian subcontinent. In that case, you see Indian ring-necked parakeets munching down on wispy dill-like plants during winter. Did you know that those plants are fennel?

Wild birds enjoy every part of fennel, even the bulb!

Two ripe fennel bulbs on a wooden table

A study in Australia has shown that birds scavenge fennel seeds to treat ileus. Ileus is a gastro-intestinal disease in birds that usually require medical aid.

However, data has shown birds that found fennel; treated ileus much faster than medical aid!

If you’re a bird enthusiast and are keen on adding a bird feeder to your porch, don’t forget to add fennel seeds.

Fennel seeds can be little pockets of energy for migrating birds and a life-saving aid. The added folate and fiber will reduce illnesses that most flocks contract during migration.

How to Add Fennel Seeds to a Bird’s Diet?

Birds aren’t usually picky eaters and eat whatever is right in front of them. However, younger birds may be a little hesitant to give fennel seeds a try at first.

I introduced fennel seeds into my bird’s diet by disguising them. 

Adding one or two sprinkles of fennel seeds to your bird’s food chop might do the trick. Birds will instantly enjoy the sweet and zesty flavor of fennel seeds.

You can also add fennel leaves or bulbs to the food chop. The bulb and stalks of fennel contain higher amounts of fiber.

Dry fennel seeds on a black table

However, one downside to fresh fennel is how easily microbes incubation occurs. It can cause an increase in infection rates.

If you plan on giving fresh fennel, remember to not keep it in the feeder longer than an hour.

Are There Any Side Effects to Fennel Seeds?

Fennel is an excellent daily supplement for birds. Similar to all-natural food, do fennel seeds have any downsides?

Like all foods, fennel seeds consumption should be in moderation. Increasing your bird’s intake of fennel seeds may do more harm than good.

The high amount of protein in fennel seeds may lead to obesity in hatchlings if not consumed in moderation.

The alkaline nature of fennel seeds can also lead to indigestion and diarrhea if your bird consumes more than advised. Diarrhea is a leading cause of death in flocks.

To summarize, it’s best to keep the fennel seeds intake limited to the advisable amount.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before I pass a concluding remark on the topic, it’s absolutely essential to answer some of the popular queries that trouble us bird parents. 

Let’s answer the nagging questions here. I’ll be updating this segment as time passes by.

Can Birds Eat Fennel Bulbs?

Fennel bulbs are highly nutritious and on the non-toxic list for birds. Hence, they’re perfectly safe to add to your bird’s diet.

Can Birds Eat Fennel Leaves (Fronds) and Stalk?

Fennel fronds and stalks are chock-full of fiber, making them an excellent choice if your bird suffers from indigestion. The crunchy texture of the fennel stalk will surely win your bird’s heart.

Can Wild Birds Eat Fennel Seeds?

Every part of the fennel is enjoyed by wild birds during the winter. It is a winter staple in their diet.

If you’re a bird enthusiast, who is also interested in gardening, you know what to plant this winter season.

Final Remarks

Let’s recap what we learned today, shall we?

Fennel is an exceptional addition to your bird’s diet due to the numerous benefits offered. It provides the best of both worlds, making it suitable to be a daily supplement for birds.

Of course, consumption in moderation is always advisable. Before adding any new food to your diet, contact your vet to ensure its safety.

Photo of author

Written and Fact-checked by David Neff

Author at BirdBonica

David is an expert birder and bird parent with in-depth knowledge of birds. He has years of experience observing birds in their natural habitats, studying their diets, behavior, and more. (Learn more about David here...)

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2 thoughts on “Can Birds Eat Fennel Seeds? The Surprising Answer!”

    • Hello Yasmeen,

      Thank you for the question. I wouldn’t recommend doing this; however, you can occasionally offer homemade and fresh fennel water without any sugar or salt to your birds, and the fennel-to-water density should be low.



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