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Organic Food: For The Birds?

A recently published study has found wild birds prefer non-organic when given the choice between conventional and organic bird food.

Birds eating from a bird feeder

Photo: John 'K' (flickr)

In a study published this week, researchers monitored how many seeds were eaten over a few weeks and found that birds preferred the conventional seeds over the organic alternative.

The Journal Of The Science Of Food And Agriculture recently published a study that found wild birds prefer non-organic when given the choice between conventional or organic bird food.

Methodology

Researchers set up bird feeders containing two types of the same variety of wheat seeds, one with organic seeds and the other conventional seeds, side by side in 30 locations in northern England.

They then monitored the feeders to see how many seeds were eaten over a period of a few weeks. The researchers found that the birds preferred the conventional seeds – even when the feeders with the organic food were switched with the ones with conventional food, ensuring that the birds weren’t just showing preference for the location of a particular feeder.

The experiment was repeated the following winter with a different type of seed. The second trial yielded the same results.

A Possible Explanation

Researchers tried to explain this preference by analyzing the seeds. They found that the conventional seed had 10 percent more protein per seed, which explains why the birds preferred it.

Birds have been shown to have a bigger appetite for protein, which is hard to get from seeds.

Read More:

  • Birds select conventional over organic wheat when given free choice (complete study)
  • Birds Turn Up Their Beaks At Organic Food (arstechnica.com)
Ariel Ivas

Ariel Ivas is a summer intern with Earth Eats and a senior at Indiana University, majoring in English with a concentration in creative writing, with a minor in telecommunications.

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