Do Deer Eat Birds and Why? (The Unusual Truth)

I’ve always been fascinated by deer, so when I first heard the question “do deer eat birds?” I was intrigued. After doing some research, I discovered some surprising information about this behavior. In this post, I’ll share the unusual truth about why deer sometimes consume birds and their eggs.

Do Deer Eat Birds?

Deer are primarily herbivores, but some species have been known to eat birds and their eggs opportunistically. This behavior is not driven by a desire to hunt, but rather by the availability of accessible food sources such as carrion and immobile fledglings. Overall, however, bird consumption is not a significant part of a deer’s diet.

Observation of Deer Eating Birds

Deer are primarily herbivores, but there have been instances where they were observed eating birds and their eggs. There are several videos showing whitetail deer catching and eating a bird. Here’s one of those videos showing a deer eating a bird:

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Surprisingly, this is more common than just an isolated incident. In fact, here’s another video:

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A recent study conducted in North Dakota found that whitetails were found to raid nests even more than foxes or weasels, as the deer take advantage of the opportunity of easily accessible food. The video evidence and the studies show that deer are not strictly plant-eaters, and that they have a more diverse diet than what was previously thought.

Reasons for Deer Eating Birds

Nutritional Requirements

It has been proposed by researchers that herbivorous animals may consume meat on occasion due to the absence of certain nutrients in their diet. For example, deer may consume birds and other animals to fulfill their requirement for calcium, salt, and phosphorous.

Given that plants have a low calcium content, deer may resort to birds as a means of obtaining calcium, especially during the periods of pregnancy and nursing when deer have elevated requirements for this nutrient. Including a variety of food sources in their diet, such as the occasional consumption of birds, could potentially aid deer in fulfilling their dietary needs.

Intentional Hunting Strategies

Deer consuming birds is an opportunistic behavior, and they do not hunt for their food like carnivores do. Instead, they take advantage of carrion and vulnerable fledglings when they come across them. While bird consumption may not be a significant part of the deer’s diet, the hunting behavior suggests that deer have the ability to switch to a more carnivorous diet if the opportunity presents itself.

Impact on the Ecosystem

Deer eating birds might seem like an insignificant interaction in the context of the ecosystem, but it could indeed have important implications. Deer are known to be a herbivore, and the shift from herbivory to carnivory could change their interaction with other species. For example, the consumption of birds could potentially reduce the bird population.

Deer have been seen eating birds, although it may not be their main source of food. This shows how important it is to study the connections between different species. By understanding these interactions, we can gain a better understanding of the diversity of wildlife diets and how it affects the environment. Further research on these interactions could provide valuable insights into the complex relationships between species.


Do deer consume birds universally?

No, not all deer eat birds. While deer are primarily herbivores, there have been instances where deer have been known to consume eggs and baby birds when given the opportunity. However, it is not a common occurrence and not all deer will exhibit this behavior.

  • Deer are mainly herbivores but may occasionally include animal protein in their diet.
  • There have been reports of deer consuming birds’ eggs and young, but it is not a regular part of their diet.
  • Not all deer would exhibit this behavior, and it is not a defining characteristic of the species.

Do deer consume rabbits?

Deer have been seen consuming the flesh of deceased rabbits, but they are not equipped to hunt and kill prey. Their diet typically consists of vegetation, but they have been known to consume various items if they don’t put up a fight, such as fish and the internal organs of other deer. Overall, while it’s not their go-to food source, it is possible for deer to eat rabbits.

Do deer consume other animals?

Deer have been known to consume items other than plants, such as small prey like birds and turtles when available. However, they are not predators and do not hunt for their food. If they come across a dead animal, they may eat from the carcass. Overall, deer are primarily herbivores but may consume other items opportunistically.


Do deer eat birds? Although deer are mainly known to feed on vegetation, some species may occasionally consume birds and their eggs. It should not be assumed that deer hunt or prey on birds intentionally as they typically eat food that is easily accessible, such as carrion or young birds that have yet to fly. However, birds are not a prominent or critical source of food for deer.

So, the next time you spot a deer grazing peacefully in a field, don’t be too quick to dismiss it as a gentle herbivore. Who knows? Maybe it has a secret taste for bird eggs or carrion! But regardless of their occasional foray into carnivorous snacking, it’s clear that deer are primarily creatures of the plant world. That’s why we should continue to appreciate their role in the ecosystem as seed dispersers and grazers, rather than thinking of them as clumsy, voracious predators.

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