Bread has become a food source that is synonymous with feeding birds. We are all familiar with the typical movie scene of someone sitting on a park bench feeding bread to pigeons. Since I am curious about what I can provide my backyard birds, it makes me wonder, Can birds eat bread, or should we avoid offering this food to birds?
Can Birds Eat Bread?
Yes, birds can eat bread. However, even though birds can physically eat bread, you should refrain from feeding bread to birds because it offers very little nutritional value for the birds. Bread fills the birds up, which then stops them from foraging for their natural foods. This practice denies the birds the energy they need to survive, particularly in cold weather.
We may think we are helping the birds by throwing bread out for them to eat, but it is a practice that should be avoided. Many people are used to doing this because it is something previous generations did.
Feeding bread to birds was accepted behavior before we understood the harm this food could cause the birds, even when our intentions were good.
From our experience and research with birds, we will explain why this food source is not ideal for birds, the health problems it causes, and what foods you can offer as a better nutritional alternative for your birds.
Can You Feed Bread To Birds?
Most of us would associate bread with feeding birds because it is an image we have been exposed to for many generations.
When we visited our local pond, I often heard my grandfather tell me to give our stale bread to the birds and the ducks and geese.
Our birds, ducks, and geese would happily eat the bread we gave them, but we were not doing them any favors. While they would often eat our stale bread, we were doing more harm than good.
So why is feeding birds bread such an issue?
Bread is not toxic for birds, which makes it safe for them to eat, but at the same time, it offers MINIMAL nutritional benefits.
In a nutshell, feeding birds bread fills them up rather quickly and leaves no room for them to eat more nutritional food.
Should You Feed Bread To Wild Birds?
Bread is horrible for wild birds that forage for their daily food. Birds need a balanced diet to provide the protein, fats, and carbohydrates they need to stay healthy and provide energy for their daily activities.
Bread does not have the necessary balance of these nutrients to sustain birds and their energy needs. The birds fill up with bread and then do not forage for their natural food because they feel full.
They are unaware that the bread they have eaten does not provide the nutrition they need. They see it as an easy meal they do not have to work hard to obtain.
If they are fed bread regularly, their health and condition will begin to decline, affecting their ability to resist disease.
Feeding wild birds bread in winter is particularly harmful because other natural food is hard to find, and the bread does not provide the energy they need to keep warm and nourished.
This can also lead to malnutrition and even death in extreme cold.
Giving bread to wild birds in early to mid-summer is also dangerous as the adults will take this food back to their young birds and baby birds still in the nest.
Large chunks of bread can pose a choking hazard for baby birds, and the lack of nutrients can hamper their development if they are fed too much bread.
Can You Feed Bread To Pet Birds?
As a pet bird owner, you are in control of the food they eat and can ensure your birds have a well-balanced diet. Bread can be fed to your pet birds as a now-and-then treat, but it should not be a part of their daily diet.
Pet birds can suffer the same consequences of malnutrition and declining health if they are fed bread too often.
If you choose to feed your pet birds, make sure the bread is not stale and entirely mold-free to prevent making your bird sick.
Always ensure your pet birds have access to healthy food that is part of their natural diet.
What Can You Feed Birds Instead Of Bread?
Some humans advocate adding other ingredients to the bread to make it more nutritious for the birds.
Others have tried spreading unsweetened, unsalted peanut butter on sandwich bread before breaking it up and feeding it to the birds to increase the nutrient benefit of the bread.
Doing this might work, but it is time-consuming and somewhat expensive after adding other ingredients to your “bird sandwich” bread.
It would be cheaper and healthier to buy bird food formulated for the birds you are feeding.
A better option is buying some wild bird food from your local pet store with a mixture of fruit, seeds, nuts, and insects that will benefit a wide range of wild birds.
Wild bird seed offers a varied diet for most birds without any extra work on your end.
Some pet stores stock specific types of feed for various bird diets.
If you have many fruit-eating birds in your area, you can focus on this type of food, or if your local birds are seed and grain eaters, you can buy food specifically for these birds.
There is also a range of other foods or kitchen scraps that are suitable for putting out for the birds to enjoy, including vegetable scraps and bruised fruit.
Just ensure that the food items do not have mold, do not contain salt, and are not beginning to rot.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can birds eat moldy bread?
No, birds should not eat moldy bread. Moldy bread is toxic for birds. The mold on the bread produces toxins that can make birds very sick and cause them to die.
Can birds eat stale bread?
No, birds should not eat stale bread. Stale bread does not provide the necessary nutrients for birds and can cause digestive issues. It is best to avoid giving stale bread to wild or pet birds. Hard stale bread also poses a choking hazard to smaller birds.
So, Can Birds Eat Bread?
Many birds can physically eat bread, but it should not be encouraged as a feeding option.
You should not give bread to wild birds, and you should avoid feeding pet birds too much bread.
Bread does not have the nutritional value needed to sustain birds and will cause them to feel fuller and, in turn, neglect foraging for natural food that is healthier for them.
If they feast on bread too frequently, they will begin to show signs of declining health due to malnutrition, making them susceptible to diseases and death.
If you have any experience feeding birds, let us know! We appreciate hearing from you about your experiences that we can share with our readers. Learning is a shared experience!
Remember to visit our other articles for more information about birds and nature. Also, remember to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow bird lovers!