Sunday, September 26, 2021

Feeding Bread to Wild Birds


Feeding Bread to Wild Birds

Generally, bread is not safe to feed birds on a regular basis, and the general category of “bread” for this article includes any bread-like product including buns, bagels, crackers, chips, etc.  

A consistent diet of bread is NOT a healthy food to feed wild birds, although some bread can be altered to be more nutritious for them. It's first important to understand just why bread can be harmful to birds.

Why is a consistent diet of bread not safe?

In a nutshell, bread is primarily a carbohydrate, and as such is basically junk food for birds. It certainly will fill a bird's stomach making them feel full at the time, but it does not provide much in the way of badly-needed nutrition. 

A steady diet of bread can cause the bird to develop health problems including malnutrition, vitamin deficiencies, and obesity. Birds need fats and lipids for energy and to develop their muscles and feathers, which bread just doesn't supply.

Which breads are best for birds?

Generally, if the bread is healthy for humans, it can be healthy for birds, but always in moderation. Whole grain or multi-grained breads (especially ones light on preservatives) are more healthy.

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How to make bread more nutritious.

The best way to feed bread to birds is to add a few ingredients to the bread that will add some much-needed nutrition that bread lacks. You can spread some nutritious ingredients right onto the bread or hang it up nearby.

Some popular ideas include:
  • Peanut Butter (or any nut butter.) Blue Jays, woodpeckers, and nuthatches love the peanut butter.
  • Apple or grape jelly or marmalades. Orioles and warblers will find this most appetizing.

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Once you add one of the two, it will be much easier to then spread on some extra nutritional toppings:

  • Birdseed mix, black oil sunflower seeds.
  • Raisins, cranberries or small bits of dried fruits.
  • Thin orange or apple slices.
  • Look at the ingredients contained in suet packs and you'll see many more options.

What Bread and Bread Toppings NEVER to feed wild birds, even on occasion.

Any human sandwich leftovers containing processed lunch meats, which contain too much salt and other chemicals, any sugar-free or low sugar spreads, soft cheeses, bacon. 

And, of course, bread that sits outdoors for a while before discovered by birds can become moldy and if ingested can actually poison and kill birds.


What time of year are breads more dangerous to birds?

Scraps of bread should always be restricted in spring and early summer. This is the time when parent birds are feeding their nestlings. These young birds need nutrition, not filler. 

On the other side of the season, as winter approaches, birds need extra nutrition to survive what could be a harsh winter.


The best time to feed bread to your birds.

The best time of year to occasionally put bread out for the birds is after the young birds have fledged (grown enough that their wings are developed enough to take flight) and there is more of an abundance of food items to choose from. 

Again, always adding some nutritious toppings to any bread offering is ideal.


So there's no need to stop feeding bread to wild birds as long as it is in moderation with nutritious ingredients added. A little know-how will go a long way in helping your feathery visitors stay healthy and build strength for whatever the next winter will bring.


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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this information, especially about suspending bread during the breeding season. It seems I always have bread that is still good, but not very fresh. I will start spreading nut butters, etc. on the bread to add nutrition.


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