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Can Birds Eat Bread? What You Need to Know!

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loaves up close

Feeding bread to ducks is a part of many people’s childhoods. If you visit a duck pond in your area, it’s likely that you can find soggy white bread littering the sidewalks, grass, and water. Despite how common it is for people to feed bread to birds, can birds eat bread?

Unfortunately, birds should not eat bread. Even though bread is not outright poisonous to birds, bread is a complete waste of calories. Instead of feeding bread to birds, opt for a bird-friendly snack that is both healthy and tasty to various birds.

To learn more about why birds can’t eat bread, read on. This article also explains some alternatives to provide for your bird instead of bread. Keep reading to learn more.

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Why Can’t Birds Eat Bread? 

Birds cannot eat bread because the food is devoid of nutrients, which means the bird will not have the fuel it needs to survive, despite feeling full.

Why Humans Can Eat Bread But Birds Can’t

Most people know that eating too much bread is bad. Most bread today is devoid of nutrients because of the process used to make the bread. Still, bread contains the same number of calories despite not offering many nutrients. Because of this fact, eating too much bread can make you feel full quickly without giving you much nutrition.

For humans, the drawbacks to bread aren’t that big of a deal. Most people realize that a well-balanced diet needs more than just bread. Not to mention, our large size means that most people simply aren’t satisfied on bread alone and eat bread alongside other food, allowing us to get the nutrients we need.

Back To Birds

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for birds. Since birds are small, they can fill up on bread very quickly. When this happens, they consume a food completely devoid of nutrition and don’t get the vitamins and minerals they need to survive.

If a bird eats bread for one meal and misses out on nutrients once, the bread will not be a big deal for some species. However, constantly giving the same bird bread repeatedly can lead to malnourishment despite the fact that the bird feels full.

Without the right nutrition, birds can develop several diseases and illnesses. Eventually, birds that eat too much bread will die since they lack the nutrients they need to sustain themselves.

bread buns up close

Image Credit: Pixabay

How Much Bread Is Bad For Birds?

Because some birds can eat bread without dying immediately, many people assume that a little bit of bread is OK. This is simply not the case. Although big birds like geese and duck can survive when being fed bread once, that is not the case for smaller birds.

For example, the Black-Capped Chickadee can die overnight from freezing if its stomach is full on bread before going to sleep. The reason for this is that the bread fails to provide the small bird the fuel needed to keep the Chickadee warm despite the cool outside.

Since bread can be fatal after just one snack for some birds, all bread should be avoided. No matter how little you think you are feeding to a bird, it can have fatal results. To avoid harming birds from bread consumption, refrain from feeding any amount or type of bread to birds.

Other Foods to Avoid Feeding Birds

Bread isn’t the only food that’s bad for birds. Nearly all processed foods are terrible for birds since they are full of carbs, sugars, salt, and fat. For the simplest instructions, simply avoid feeding all sorts of human foods to birds. Here’s a list of other foods you especially need to avoid feeding to birds:

  • Avocado
  • Anything with caffeine
  • Chocolate and sweets
  • Salt or treats with salt
  • Fat onions
  • Garlic
  • Artificial sweeteners

This is not a comprehensive list of foods that are bad for birds, but they are some of the most important to avoid. These foods are not only bad for birds, but they can be downright deadly, just like bread.

Lovebirds eating

Image Credit: Pixabay

What To Feed Birds Instead

If you feel like feeding birds, you can still do so if you get the right snack. It’s important not to overfeed wild birds to ensure that they maintain their instincts for hunting themselves. The occasional treat won’t do them any harm if you select from the list below:

  • Black oil sunflower seeds
  • Crack corn
  • Fresh fruit
  • Mealworms
  • Millet
  • Oats
  • Safflower
  • Pre-mixed bird seed
  • Frozen peas

If you know what kind of bird you are feeding, you can look up special snacks specifically for that bird. Even though most birds eat a similar diet, some species may prefer a unique type of vegetable or treat. The list above is a pretty basic list of f bird-friendly snacks that are healthy and nutritious.

Related Read: Can Birds Eat Popcorn? What You Need to Know!

How To Feed Birds

Feeding birds is relatively simple. There are only three rules: pick the right treats, throw the treat in the right spot, and stop feeding once the bird stops eating.

baby lovebirds eating

Image Credit: ploypemuk, Shutterstock

1. Pick The Right Treat

As we learned above, it’s critical to feed birds the right treat. Processed foods and bread are horrible treats for birds. Instead, opt for nutritious seeds and oats so that birds get the nutrition they need while filling up their stomachs. If you aren’t sure about a particular food, look it up before feeding it to the bird.


2. Throw The Treat In The Right Spot

Depending on the species you are feeding, you can either throw the treat on the ground or in a feeder. Certain birds, such as ducks or sparrows, prefer to eat directly on the ground. In contrast, hummingbirds and other birds like to eat off a bird feeder or platform. Put the treat in the correct spot based on the bird you’re trying to feed.


3. Stop Feeding Once The Bird Stops Eating

It’s important not to overfeed birds. As soon as you notice the birds are no longer eating, especially ducks, do not continue putting food on the ground. The bird will come back to the food, no matter how long it has been sitting there. When the bird comes back, the food may be contaminated, resulting in a sick bird in the future.

Related Read: 8 Proven Ways to Keep Squirrels Out of Bird Feeders

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Final Thoughts

If you do not get anything else from this article, remember that bread is bad for birds. Even though bread is tasty to humans and birds alike, bread should never be fed to any type of bird. It can quickly lead to death since bread does not provide nutrition for the creature.

Instead, feed seeds and other nutritious treats to birds. These treats will taste good to the bird, but they will also provide the nutrition that the bird needs to survive. If you have any doubts about the treat you have on hand, do a quick Google search before feeding it to any birds.


Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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