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Do Sparrows Eat Sunflower Seeds? (All You Need to Know)

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If you love feeding and watching birds, feeding sparrows is a great deal. Sparrows are so friendly and love the presence of humans. If you feed them they will visit your place consistently year-round. But how good are sunflower seeds for sparrows? Let’s find out.

Do sparrows eat sunflower seeds?

Sparrows love to eat sunflower seeds but it’s hard to crack the shell for them. They love it so much that they will pick sunflower seeds first from a mixture of seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are their favorite as they have a soft shell. All species of sparrows like sunflower seeds. 

Sparrows are not picky eaters. They eat almost every food they find interesting. That includes oats, grains, insects, human food, and many more. But sunflower seeds are like treats to them.

Most of the sunflower seeds have hard shells. Breaking the shell is tough work for the tiny sparrows. Older sparrows can break the shell comfortably but younger ones have to learn the process.

Sunflower seeds have a very appealing taste and smell to sparrows. Moreover, the sunflower seeds are full of fat, protein, carbohydrates, and fiber.

Sunflower seeds whole:

Sparrows do not eat whole sunflower seeds. They are too small to eat the seeds whole. Although, even bigger birds do not eat the whole sunflower seeds.

The shell is made of a hard cellulose layer to protect the seed from animals. The shell is not easily digestible.

Sunflower seeds from the plant:

Sparrows eat sunflower seeds from the plant. But picking the seed from the plant, cracking the shell and eating is kind of a time-consuming process.

The seed shell is good protection against birds. Even a big group of sparrows will not be able to eat all the seeds of a small sunflower garden in weeks.

Sunflower seeds with shells:

Soft-shelled seeds are best to feed sparrows. They have to crack the shells with their beak or smash it with the ground. They can eat Soft-shelled sunflower seeds with much comfort.

Black oil sunflower seeds:

Black oil sunflower seeds are soft-shelled. If you are buying sunflower seeds for sparrows, black oil sunflower seed is a good option.

Striped sunflower seeds:

Striped sunflower seeds are very nutritious for birds but they have a thick shell. It contains high protein, carbohydrate, and fat content.

Hulled sunflower seeds:

Hulled sunflower seeds are those with shells removed. Sparrows can eat hulled sunflower seeds without any extra effort as they don’t need to crack the shells.

Sparrows can make a place dirty with shells when you feed them shelled sunflower seeds. It does not happen with hulled sunflower seeds.

Limit the amount of hulled sunflower seed while feeding. Else sparrows will eat too much striped-sunflower seed which may make them sick.

Sunflower seeds with salt:

A small amount of salt can be processed by sparrows but a large amount of salt can be dangerous for them. Try not to feed salty sunflower seeds to sparrows.

Do all sparrows eat sunflower seeds?

All species of sparrow eat sunflower seeds. It is one of the most preferable foods to them. Know if those species of sparrows eat sunflower seeds.

Song sparrows:

Millet and sunflower seeds are common foods of song sparrows. They also eat weed seeds, grasshoppers, beetles, and other insects. 

Song sparrows are a common bird species in most of North America. Sparrows from an area can look a bit different from another.

English sparrows:

English sparrows enjoy having sunflower seeds. In winter, they become a bit inactive. So they need to eat a lot of food before winter comes. Sunflower seeds provide them with a good amount of nutrients to survive in winter.

English sparrows are one of the most adaptable bird species in the world. Their origin was in Europe and they spread all over the world.

House sparrows:

House sparrows and English sparrows are the same species. They eat sunflower seeds, weed seeds, insects, larvae, etc.

House sparrows were brought to America in 1851. Sparrows breed so fast that they took only 50 years to spread all over the country.

Maybe that’s why sparrows are a sign of love according to Greek mythology.

There are many species of sparrows in the world. North America has over 30 species of sparrows. 

Bachman’s sparrow, Baird’s sparrow, Eurasian sparrow, Chipping sparrow, Cassin’s sparrow are some of the other species of North America.

4 reasons why sparrows eat sunflower seeds

Sunflower seeds are one of the most favorite foods for sparrows. Here’s why they find it attractive.

High food value:

In 100 grams of sunflower seeds, there is 584 kcal energy. Whereas beef has 250 kcal in 100 grams. So, as you can see sunflower seeds have a lot more energy than regular foods.

Sparrows have a faster metabolism and they need a lot of energy to fly and live. To maintain this high energy requirement, they have to find food almost all day long. 

So, they look for high-energy food so they can relax a bit. Sunflower seeds are one of them.

High nutrition:

Sunflower seeds have high-fat content which is important for winter seasons. Sunflower seeds have altogether 40% of fat.

Protein, carbohydrates, and fiber of sunflower seed make it an ideal food for birds who have to move around a lot. 

Sunflower seeds also have some essential vitamins and minerals which are important for their health.

Smell and taste:

Sparrows like the smell and taste of Sunflower seeds. It attracts them more than other seeds and grains.


Sunflowers are native to America. There are 70 species of sunflower and only a few of them are cultivated. Sparrows and many other birds get their food from cultivated and wild sunflower plants.

Can sparrows eat too many sunflower seeds?

No, it is not recommended to feed too many sunflower seeds to sparrows. Although sunflower seeds are very essential food for them, too much of a good thing is often bad.

Why can’t they eat too many sunflower seeds? They can’t eat too many sunflower seeds even if they want because of the shells. They need to process the seed before eating, which is not so easy.

However, if you feed them hulled sunflower seeds or black oil sunflower seeds, you have to be careful as sparrows can eat lots of them and that may cause sickness.

Unlike humans and other animals, birds eat a lot of food compared to their bodies. Sparrows can eat 30% of their body weight. It’s like eating 20kg+ food at once for us!

However, the point is they can not handle a full belly of high-energy food. Feeding them too many sunflower seeds can make them sick.

What seeds do sparrows eat?

Sparrows live on seeds. There are a wide variety of seeds they eat. Here are some common seeds to feed sparrows.


Oats are a great source of fiber and carbohydrates for sparrows. They like the taste of oats and can eat as much as they want. Just make sure the oats are uncooked. Cooked oats can stick on a sparrow’s beak.


Sparrows eat wheat. But whole wheat can be a little hard to digest for them as it contains high fiber. Broken wheat is best to feed sparrows. 


Sparrows eat a wide variety of nuts. They like Brazil nuts, beechnuts, peanuts, almonds, and more. But break the shells before feeding them nuts.

Nuts are a good source of fat, protein, and various nutritions. It has higher energy content than most of the seeds.

Canary seeds:

Canary seeds are the best seeds to feed sparrows after sunflower seeds. It has above 20% protein content which is very beneficial for them. It also contains a good amount of starch and fats.

What is the best bird seed for sparrows?

Canary seeds and sunflower seeds are the best bird seeds for sparrows considering their nutritional needs. Those seeds have high energy and nutrition that enhances their health and growth.

Don’t feed one kind of seed regularly. If they eat only one kind of food, they can develop a lack of nutrition. The best thing you can do is feed them seed mix. 

Seed mix contains a variety of seeds that have all the nutrients they need. Some of the seed mixes contain dried mealworms.

Before feeding sparrows, any kind of seeds, make sure the seeds are not for planting. 

Seeds you buy for your garden often contain insecticides so that insects can not do any harm to the seeds. Feeding those seeds may be fetal to sparrows. 

Final thoughts

Sparrows will love your backyard if you feed them sunflower seeds. Black oil sunflower seeds are good for them as they have a softer shell. Mix different types of seeds to fulfill their nutritional requirements. Don’t feed them any salty, cooked, or too many seeds. It may make them sick.

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