Many of us put food out for birds, and this can include bread. Bread isn’t harmful to birds, but it’s not the best thing to give them. It provides no nutritional value and fills them up so they don’t want to eat other food. If you want to feed birds, use foods which are better for them.
Birds will eat bread, particularly if they are hungry. While it may not be harmful to them, it may not be good for them either. Bread contains no nutrients which are beneficial to birds, and so it just fills them up, leaving little room for foods which they do need to eat. It’s also dry, so only give them smaller pieces of bread, or damp it in water first.
You also need to be careful that you are not feeding them moldy bread as for some birds, this can be dangerous.
If you do want to feed birds, check out foods which they like and are good for them so you will also be helping them as well.
What to Feed Birds
If you decide to feed birds, first decide which birds you are going to be feeding. If you are visiting a lake, for example, you may encounter ducks, geese or other water birds. If you are looking to feed birds in your garden, pay attention to which birds come to visit you regularly. This way you will be able to supply them with the right type of food.
Here are just a few of the things you can feed them
- Nuts: Peanuts are a favorite with many birds, but they also love walnuts, pecans and pretty much any nuts. Nuts provide them with fat so give them much needed energy, particularly during winter months. Don’t put out salted or flavored nuts.
- Seeds: Birds will eat most seeds but they love sunflower, niger and safflower seeds. Seeds don’t have a lot of nutritional value, but they do have oils so are another good source of fats.
- Fruit: Some birds love fruits, such as orioles, and birds will enjoy most fruit. Fruits provide vitamins, minerals and carbohydrates, as well as sugar for those who need lots of energy.
- Mealworms: Some pet stores will sell mealworms and these are a good source of protein and fiber.
- Nectar: In the summer, feeders can be a good source of energy for birds such as hummingbirds. They need the nectar to give them their energy.
- Suet: A great food for winter and some birds such as jays and woodpeckers love suet. In cold weather it provides a good source of fat but be careful that you don’t leave it out too long or it could go off.
When feeding birds, don’t put out the same food all the time. Try to mix it up so they get a good variety for their health.
How to Give Birds Food
It’s also important to pay attention to how you feed birds. You can simply sprinkle nuts and seeds around your garden but this isn’t a good idea. Not only will the birds damage your lawn when they eat, but the food can attract unwanted visitors.
There are a number of different feeders you can get.
- Some people like a flat top bird table. The food is placed on the top, and birds can sit on the top to feed. This is a simple way to feed birds, but food can be pushed off the edge if the table doesn’t have a rim.
- If you want to give birds nuts and seeds, get a proper feeder which holds them. These can be hung from branches so the birds feel safe eating, and they also hold the food in place so it doesn’t spill.
- Nectar feeding birds will need a proper nectar feeder. These are designed to hold the nectar safely in side and have special feeding slots for long beaks.
- If you put out fat balls or suet blocks you will need the right size and shape of feeder. The blocks should slot in so that the birds can get to them, but they won’t fall out.
If you have more than one feeder, space them out around the garden. You will find more birds will come to eat if they have more room.
When to Feed Birds
For many birds, their diet remains the same all year round, but in some areas, food is not readily available during winter months.
Birds tend to use a lot of energy and some of that goes in just keeping themselves warm. In the winter, they will need different foods to do this, than they will in the summer.
- In the summer, food is more readily available for most birds, so you just need to top up what they are having. Seeds, nuts and fruit are all good choices for most birds.
- In the winter when food is scarce, birds need food to keep warm to survive. They will eat the same foods as they do in summer, but may need a little more fat as well. Suet is a great choice for this, and suet blocks will also have other foods in them.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Are there foods you should not give to birds?
There are some foods which you should not feed birds, as they can be harmful to their overall health.
- Avoid foods which are high in salt, as this can cause similar health issues to those which humans will have from too much salt.
- Caffeine causes the heart to beat faster and in smaller birds this can be fatal. As chocolate contains traces of caffeine, as well as other toxins, it’s best not to give it to birds.
- While birds love seeds, don’t give them the pips or stones out of fruit. Many fruit seeds and pits contain traces of arsenic.
- If you’re looking to give birds something a little spicy, be careful. While peppers are generally ok, onions and garlic are not.
- While birds do require some fat in their diet, too much can cause problems with their health.
If I give a bird bread, what bread should I avoid?
Birds will eat most bread, and if it has grains they will probably love it. Try to avoid spicy or flavored breads though. Onion and garlic bread can actually be harmful to a bird so try to avoid it. Make sure the bread is fresh and try to mix it up with other foods.
Can birds die from eating bread?
The sad answer to this is, yes, they can. There are two reasons why this could happen.
- Bread is very dry, and if you give a bird a large chunk of bread, it could choke trying to swallow it.
- Some birds will eat what they’re given and if you feed them too much bread, this can have an overall effect on their diet. Bread provides no nutrients, so an all bread diet can eventually kill birds. This is why you need to mix up the foods you feed them, so that they stay healthy.
If you feed birds regularly, they soon get used to you and may even approach you to accept food. You will need to be cautious so you don’t scare them away. While they will take bread, always try to vary the food you give them so that they not only get some nutrition, but look forward to accepting different foods from you which they know they will love.