A goose feeding on grass.

Are Birds Herbivores? (Let’s Take A Closer Look!)

Are birds herbivores? In this article, we will take a look a closer look to see if there are any indications that they are or not. There is no one simple answer to this question because it can be seen as both yes and no depending on whom you ask. 

Are Birds Herbivores?

It is a common misconception that all birds are herbivores. In fact, most birds eat both plants and animals. However, some birds, including some raptors, are carnivores, meaning that they primarily eat meat.

For example, owls prey on small mammals such as mice and shrews for food. The true herbivorous bird species make up only about 3% of all living bird species, with the majority being omnivores or carnivores. 

What is a Herbivore?

A herbivore is an animal that only feeds on plant material. They are typically mammals, but can also be reptiles or amphibians. Some herbivores eat grass, while others might eat leaves or flowers. 

The digestive system of a herbivore is typically designed to extract as much nutritional value from plants as possible. Some examples of herbivores include frogs, mice, pigs, cows, sheep and deer.

Types of herbivores:

  • Granivores (Grain & seed eating animals).
  • Folivores (Leaf-eating animals).
  • Frugivores (Fruit-eating animals).
  • Nectivores (Nectar feeding animals).
  • Muscivorous (Sap-eating animals).
  • Palynivorous (Pollen feeding animals).

Are Birds Herbivores, Omnivores, or Carnivores?

Birds are primarily omnivores, but their diet is varied and includes many foods. Birds eat insects, fruit, seeds, leaves, flowers and other plant material. They also occasionally hunt small animals, like eggs, fish or lizards, for food.

Some birds may even feed on carrion (dead animals) like the Andean Condor and some birds of prey such as falcons, eagles, hawks, owls, osprey, and vultures survive almost solely on meat.

What are Some Examples of Birds that are Herbivores?

Some examples of herbivores that are birds include most parrots, geese, and cockatoos. Parrots eat mostly fruit or nuts, but there are some species that will dabble in the occasional insect or eat fish and seafood.

Geese are known to eat grasses and grains. Cockatoos love fresh vegetables like corn on the cob or green beans in addition to fruits like oranges or strawberries.

What are Some Examples of Birds that are Ominivores?

Omnivore birds can be both carnivorous and herbivorous at different times in their lives. Examples of some bird species that are omnivores include woodpeckers, orioles, ducks, geese, swans, gulls, pigeons, jays and sparrows among others.

What are Some Examples of Birds that are Carnivores?

Some examples of birds that are carnivores include eagles, hawks, falcons, and owls. These types of birds have a strong sense of sight and can prey on animals such as fish, frogs, snakes, rodents, rabbits or insects with their sharp talons.

A Vulture feeding on the meat of a carcass.
Image by Ben Kerckx from Pixabay

People Also Ask:

What is the Largest Herbivore Bird?

Ostriches are the world’s largest birds. Ostriches live on land in hot deserts like Africa and Arabia. The ostrich belongs to a family of animals called ratites.

Ratites are large flightless birds that are related to emus and kiwis. There are five species of ratite alive today, including ostriches, rheas, cassowaries, emus and kiwis.

Are Birds Omnivores or Herbivores?

Birds are omnivores, not herbivores. They eat both meat and plants. Many birds, such as hawks, falcons, owls, crows and magpies will eat other animals for food including rodents, insects and fish.

Some birds only eat plant matter like berries or seeds from a variety of different trees and bushes, which they find on the ground in forests or grasslands.​​​​​​​

Are Pigeons Herbivores?

Pigeons are primarily herbivores, but they will scavenge for invertebrates if given the opportunity. Pigeons mainly eat seeds and grains, but they will scavenge for some invertebrates like worms or insects (both alive and dead) if they have the opportunity. In addition to these two food sources, pigeons will sometimes feed on scraps of meat from a carcass.

Is a Sparrow a Herbivore?

The common sparrow is a member of the passerine order and is therefore related to all other perching birds. What most people don’t know, however, is that sparrows are omnivores; they eat seeds and insects in addition to grains and nuts. This means that sparrows may not be herbivores after all!​​​​​​​

Are Parakeets Herbivores?

Many people think that parakeets are herbivores, but they are actually omnivores. Parakeets are often referred to as herbivores because they feed on plants and seeds. However, this is not entirely accurate since parakeets also eat other animals and insects such as flies, ants, and midges. 

Are Parrots Herbivores?

Parrots are omnivores, meaning they eat both plants and animals. However, their diets are usually composed of seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables with the occasional small insect or fish meal.​​​​​​​

Are Macaw Herbivores?

It is a common misconception that Macaws are herbivores because they live in the rainforest. The truth is, they are omnivores and will consume the occasional insect or animal protein.

However, their diet consists mainly of seeds from fruits and nuts. The diet of a macaw is based on what is available in their habitat. 

Are Hummingbirds Herbivores?

Hummingbirds are one of the most fascinating and well-known animals in North America. They’re often mistaken for being herbivores, but they’re actually omnivorous.

Most of the time they feed on nectar, sap and flowers, but they will feed on aphids, gnats spiders, and small flies if needed. The hummingbird’s diet changes frequently based on the season and location that they live in.


Though there are some exceptions, most bird species are omnivores. In the wild, birds will eat a variety of things to survive, depending on their location and the time of year.

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