Can Birds Eat Bread?
For a lot of us, the concept of bird feeding started at a young age when we threw generous handfuls of stale bread and crusts into the back garden.
It was exciting, watching the pigeons and magpies flock to the ground and fighting over the last little crumb (still is!).
However, more recently we’ve been told to avoid bread when feeding our feathered friends, instead opting for healthier (and pricier) seed alternatives. But are they necessary?
IS BREAD GOOD FOR BIRDS?
Bread is made from wheat, and lots of seed mixes contain wheat, so bread must be okay for birds, right?
Not quite, but not far off.
It’s a common misconception that bread is “bad” for birds. Of course, mouldy bread should go straight in the bin, but fresh bread isn’t actually anything for birds other than empty calories.
According to the RSPB, bread does not contain the necessary proteins and nutrients that wild birds need as part of a balanced diet. While it’s not harmful in small quantities, it should not be used in place of a high quality, high energy seed mix.
CAN I FEED BREAD TO BIRDS?
Yes, you can feed bread to birds in small quantities. We don’t recommend buying bread specifically for your birds but throwing out leftovers is fine if you follow a few simple rules:
- Only put out small quantities that will be eaten in a day
- Soak stale bread in water to soften it
- Rip bread into small, digestible chunks
When it comes to bread, the same rules apply to birds as they do to humans – the healthier the better. Whole wheat, seeded breads offer more nutritional benefits than white bread and are often lower in chemical additives and salt.
HEALTHY ALTERNATIVES TO BREAD FOR GARDEN BIRDS
Using a seed mix that contains ingredients rich in healthy oils and proteins is the best alternative to bread for your garden birds.
Sunflower hearts, peanut granules and nyger seeds all come up tops for their nutritional content and are favourites with most species of birds.
Insects, including dried mealworms, are also excellent ingredients to look out for in wild bird seed mixes. Not only are they packed with protein, they also help insectivorous birds mimic their natural feeding habits.
Surprisingly, you’ll also find a lot of food scraps and leftovers in your home that are suitable for feeding to your garden birds.
Cheese, cooked potatoes, fruit, and fat (preferably suet) are all tasty treats, but make sure they do not contain added salt.