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Do birds eat fertilizer?

Do birds eat fertilizer?

Fertilizers supply nutrients to the plants to help them grow and to yield a good amount of produce. Plants need it to keep them healthy. However, there are instances when birds consume fertilizers because they think it’s the food they’re supposed to eat. If you own birds, you might be asking, do birds eat fertilizer? To know the answer, keep on reading this post.  

Birds tend to eat fertilizers as some fertilizers look like grit, which is a food for some birds. There are instances when some fertilizers contaminate feeders and water supplies that birds may consume accidentally. 

To further understand the effects of birds consuming fertilizers, in this post I’ll share with you the effects of fertilizer when birds eat it. I’ll also share the brands of fertilizers available in the market that are safe for the birds. 

Do birds eat fertilizer?

Birds don’t eat fertilizers but they tend to eat them. They usually eat insects such as mosquitoes, worms, and grubs. They also eat flowers, seeds, small berries, nuts, fruits, and grasses. For large birds, you can expect them to eat snakes and rodents.

However, not all birds live in the wild. You can spot them on fields and even in your backyard. Although they eat their favorite meals, they have the chance to eat fertilizer when it’s mixed with their usual food. So, if you add fertilizer to the soil and they eat grasses, they might consider eating the fertilizer especially when it looks like granules.

Granular fertilizers look like grits that some birds consume. The granular type comes in coarse powder or pellets. It’s usually spread in flower beds and lawns. Birds go to these places, which let them get exposed to the fertilizer. Because of the shape of the fertilizers, birds may think that it’s the usual grit they eat. 

Can birds die from fertilizer?

A bird may die after eating fertilizer with high toxicity levels. The fertilizer’s chemical content can damage the digestive and nervous systems of the birds, which can kill them. On the other hand, the toxic vapors emitted by other fertilizers can harm the birds as well. 

Although recently there are no birds reported being killed due to fertilizer poisoning, in 1979, The New York Times reported that 10,000 birds of different species died due to fertilizer poisoning. Investigators said that an unusual level of nitrates was found on the bird’s system. They suspected that a large amount of fertilizer that contains nitrate was left on the ground, which the birds ate. However, it was not proven at the time of the report that the consumption of fertilizer was the cause.

In 2005, acute poisoning of silver gulls happened in Australia. It was due to the accidental spillage of urea fertilizer. Based on the examination, the urea concentrations present in the gulls would have a detrimental effect on the protein function throughout the birds’ bodies. The birds died due to the poisoning.

With the two separate incidents, we can safely say that an excessive amount of chemicals consumed by the birds can kill them. For the two incidents, an excessive amount of nitrates and urea can kill the birds.

Do weed and feed fertilizers harm birds?

Weed and feed fertilizers don’t harm birds and other animals. A weed and feed is a term used for lawn chemicals that both act as weed killers and fertilizers. Manufacturers today ensure that the fertilizers they create don’t cause damage to the plants and it doesn’t harm animals. If you’re looking for weed and feed fertilizers, here are some of the popular brands you can buy in the market today.

Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Preventer

Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed All Purpose Plant Food Plus Weed Preventer is safe for the bird. However, you must use it as directed. Using it in an excessive amount can kill the birds. It’s recommended that birds are not around when you apply the fertilizer. 

The Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed fertilizer has a fertilizer analysis of 10-10-10. The numbers indicate the percentage of the macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, in order. 

Miracle-Gro has other fertilizer products that you can use on your plants. Every product created is safe for birds and other animals.

Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed3 with WeedGrip Technology

Scotts Turf Builder Weed & Feed3 is not harmful to birds when used according to the label. It has a fertilizer analysis of 28-0-3, which means it has 28% nitrogen, 0% phosphate, and 3% potassium. It has an improved formulation and additional ingredients that help in controlling unwanted weeds and insects.  

How to keep birds from eating fertilizer?

To keep birds from eating fertilizer, avoid adding fertilizer where the bird’s food is located. The birds may confuse the fertilizer with food. If you can still see a portion of food in the area, don’t add fertilizer. Instead, wait until all the food is gone. But that can be tricky for the birds. They may assume that the fertilizer you added to the soil is still the food they eat.

To avoid it, you can use a temporary netting cage on the area where you put the fertilizer. You can remove the netting cage when the rain pushes the fertilizer into the soil. 

Another option that you can do is to avoid putting fertilizer near the food source. If it’s possible, just fertilize the fruit trees and not the entire area. However, if you’re fertilizing the lawn, it’s much better to add a bird feeder. It helps you to direct the birds to the right source of food.


Fertilizers don’t harm birds when they’re used according to instructions. Using a bird feeder can help so the birds gather in a specific spot to get food. However, don’t forget that birds eat seeds, flowers, and grasses. You need to take note of these foods so you can decide if you’ll add fertilizers to the area where the food is located.