Birds eat a varied diet, much as we do. Like humans, some items birds like to eat are not particularly good for them. I want to try new foods from the kitchen when we run out of regular bird seed, but can birds eat cheerios, and is this breakfast cereal good for them?
Can birds eat cheerios?
Yes! Birds can eat Cheerios since the cereal is made from whole-grain oats, which are essentially seeds from oats plants. The grain part is suitable for birds, but the other additives to make the Cheerios tasty for humans can be bad for birds. Be sure to avoid Cheerios with higher sugar content!
If you want to re-purpose your Cheerios as bird food, we have some important information you should consider before feeding your birds.
In our experience, most processed human food is not suitable for birds. Some human food can be edible for birds, Cheerios included, but should be offered in moderation.
Are Cheerios Good For Birds To Eat?
Cheerios’ popularity as a breakfast food ebbs and flows like all breakfast cereals. If the popularity of Cheerios has waned in your home, you may have a box in your kitchen cupboard that you need to get rid of before it becomes stale.
Birds can eat Cheerios, so offering them to your backyard birds or pet birds is a great way to avoid wasting money and throwing the box in the trash.
What are Cheerios made from that makes them edible for birds?
Most cereals are made from cereal crops such as wheat, oats, barley, maize, or corn. Cheerios are made from whole grain oats, which are crushed and pressed into the little rings we are familiar with in our breakfast bowl.
The oats ingredient is the part of the Cheerios that is healthy and nutritious for birds. Problems arise with all the secondary cereal ingredients manufacturers add to the cereal to make it more appealing to humans.
Sugar is used as a sweetener in most cereal, and certain flavors of Cheerios are dusted with sugar and salt to make them more appealing to people. This added sugar and salt are the ingredients in cereal that are not good for birds.
Most birds have difficulty digesting raw sugar and can develop digestive problems if they have too much sugar.
Every good chef knows that salt enhances the flavor of food, and salt is added to cereal products for this purpose. While all birds need some salt in their diet, most get sufficient salt from their natural diets.
Feeding birds Cheerios too often can increase their salt intake to the point that it affects their health negatively.
What kind of Cheerios Are Best For Birds
Cheerios come in various flavors to entice people to continue buying the product as breakfast food. The multiple flavors have numerous additives and flavorings to make them tastier for us to eat.
Many of these additives are not suitable for birds to eat, and their health will suffer if they eat too many Cheerios.
For example, Original Flavour Cheerios only have 2g of sugar per 1 ½ cup serving of the cereal. The Frosted Cheerios, in contrast, contains 12g of sugar per 1 ½ cup serving. That is a whopping six times more sugar than the Original flavor!
The best Cheerios to feed your birds are the Original Cheerios rather than any other flavor-enhanced varieties!
The flavored versions of Cheerios will not be Toxic and cause your bird to drop dead immediately, but they are certainly more harmful to your birds than the Original Plain Cheerios.
Cheerio Flavors to Avoid feeding your pet or wild birds:
- Chocolate Cheerios
- Frosted Cheerios
- Honey Nut Cheerios
- Apple Cinnamon Cheerios
- Blueberry Cheerios
- Chocolate Peanut Butter Cheerios
- Cinnamon Cheerios
These are a few, but most cheerios offered on the shelf have a sugar content of more than 9g. So it’s safer only to consider using multigrain cheerios or original plain cheerios.
If the only Cheerios available are the flavored variety, you should sparingly offer them to your pet or wild birds.
How To Feed Cheerios To Birds
The way to feed Cheerios to pet and wild birds will depend on the size of the bird. Larger birds, such as Parrots and Blue Jays, can be given an entire Cheerio ring. Larger pets and wild birds will have no trouble eating whole cheerios as they can easily grasp them and break them into pieces if needed.
The best option for smaller birds is to break the Cheerios into smaller chunks or crush them into breadcrumb-size pieces. Wild birds eat cheerios at a bird feeder so consider adding small quantities at their regular feeding station.
Be sure not to give your birds too many Cheerios at once to limit their intake of ingredients that are not good for them. Think about the sugar content!
Many diet-friendly kinds of cereal use alternative sweeteners such as xylitol. The effects of xylitol on birds have not been extensively studied, but the sweetener is toxic to dogs. The best option would be to avoid giving your birds Cheerios flavored with artificial sweeteners.
Aim for only a few Cheerios a week as a tasty treat to pet birds and a handful for wild birds. Make sure you monitor your pet or wild birds for signs of digestive issues like diarrhea.
Feel free to use stale or leftover cereal, too, as it’s better to use than throw it away.
What Other Common Breakfast Cereals Can Birds Eat?
Most breakfast cereals are made using grains, which are typically part of birds’ natural diet. You can give any whole grain cereals to your birds as a treat as long as you adhere to a few simple guidelines.
- Choose original flavor cereals. Think whole grain oats or Multigrain cheerios that have low sugar content.
- Avoid high sugar content cereals.
- Limit the amount of cereal offered to your pet and wild birds.
- Never give your birds breakfast cereal with artificial sweeteners.
It comes down to reading the ingredients on the box and using your judgment to decide what will be good for your bird and what is not worth the risk.
So, can birds eat cheerios?
Cheerios are predominantly made from whole-grain wheat, which is suitable for birds. The artificial flavorings in breakfast cereal used to enhance flavor are not healthy for birds to eat frequently.
The best flavor option to feed your birds is the Original cheerios flavor, as this variety contains the least artificial flavorings such as sugar and salt. Be mindful of how much you feed your birds cheerios, as too much can be harmful.
If you have any experience feeding breakfast cereals to wild birds, let us know! We would love to share your comments and experiences with our readers. Learning is a sharing experience!
Remember to check out our other blog posts for more information about birds and birdwatching. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow bird lovers!