Birds are, with a few exceptions, feathered animals with two legs that are able to fly. When you go outside, odds are you'll see at least one bird in the branches of a tree, perched on a power line or flying overhead.

Their ability to take to the air to hunt or escape predators has made them wildly successful, and there are over 10,000 known species of birds ranging in size from a hummingbird little bigger than a bee to the 9 foot tall ostrich. As you can imagine, any class of animals this diverse will also have wildly varied diets. One thing they all have in common is a high metabolism, and so they must be constantly on the lookout for food. If you want to know what pet, wild and baby birds need to survive, this website is here to help.

Many people like to keep birds as pets, since they are colorful and intelligent creatures. The most common types of pet birds belong to the parrot family, including the Budgerigar, cockatoo, macaw and African Grey. Some of these birds are as intelligent as a small child, and can even learn to talk! What do birds eat? Most parrot species will need specialized diets for their particular nutritional needs, but all eat a variety of seeds and fruits to stay healthy. You can feed your parrot slices of low-sugar fruits and vegetables as a treat. Parrots need to stay stimulated and engaged with their environment, so try to find challenging ways to deliver their food. Some owners like to stuff a pine cone and hang it from the cage for the parrot to work at, while others have their parrot repeat a noise or other trick to earn a snack.

In the wild, a bird's diet usually depends on its size. The smallest birds, hummingbirds, live off the nectar of flowers. Slightly larger birds like sparrows and finches eat seeds such as thistle, sunflower and safflower seeds; worms and other small invertebrates; and insects like crickets or mosquitoes. Other birds prefer to live by the water and dive for fish or shellfish. Falcons and eagles swoop down from the skies to catch small prey like rabbits or even other birds. On the other hand, flocks of geese nibble on grass like sheep. Some birds make a living stealing from others rather than finding their own food. Many gulls will wait until another bird has found something tasty and will then take the prize for themselves. Vultures wait for an animal to die and then eat its corpse. That may sound gross, but vultures are actually essential for cleaning up the wilderness and preventing the spread of disease. There are so many types of birds out there, each having adapted to the power of flight a little bit differently, that the sheer variety of what birds eat can be breathtaking.

Baby birds, or chicks, are hatched from eggs and usually rely on their parents to feed them. Parent birds, either one or both, leave their young in nests and return with food already digesting in their stomachs. The parents then regurgitate the food into the eager mouths of the chicks. Think about that the next time you're forced to eat vegetables! Chicks continue to rely on their parents until they grow their adult feathers and are able to fly. If you have found a baby bird on the ground, the best thing you can do is find its nest and return it. If that is not an option, however, examine the baby bird. If it does not have feathers and its eyes are still closed, keep it warm and take it to a wildlife rescue. If it has feathers and its eyes are open, it is probably still in the process of learning to fly. Take it back to where it was, and its parents will teach it how to find food and fly as nature intended. Don't worry; it's perfectly natural for learning chicks to spend some time on the ground!



A What Do They Eat? project.