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Can Birds Eat Popcorn? What You Need to Know!

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buckets of popcorn

Perhaps you’re thinking of feeding the birds at your local park, or maybe you have your own bird and you’re looking for a healthy snack for them. Either way, you should always ensure that you’re not giving them something that they shouldn’t have.

Popcorn is a great treat for birds as long as it doesn’t have any salt or other flavorings on it. Here, we break down everything that you need to know about feeding birds popcorn, as well as other great snack options and what to avoid!

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Can Birds Eat Popcorn?

Absolutely! Not only can birds eat popcorn, but it’s also a super healthy snack for them. However, there are a few caveats. The most important thing is that it’s unsalted and unbuttered popcorn.

While popcorn itself is an excellent snack for your feathered friends, the salt and other flavorings that humans tend to love on top of it are terrible for them. So, don’t grab a bag of microwavable popcorn. Instead, get just the kernels and pop them yourself before feeding them to the birds!

person feeding popcorn to albatross
Image Credit: Arun Sankaragal, Shutterstock

Can Birds Eat Popcorn Kernels?

Not only can birds chow down on popped popcorn, but they’ll also happily gobble up the kernels. But there are special considerations that you need to take into account.

Before feeding popcorn kernels to birds, it’s best to first boil them for a minute or two. This helps soften up the hard exterior shells of the kernels and makes them much easier for birds to chow down on.

Don’t add any extra salt or flavorings to the kernels either. It’s best to get a container of plain popcorn kernels instead of a microwavable bag or anything like that.

corn kernels
Image Credit: inialbert, Pixabay

Other Great Snacks for Birds

While unsalted and unbuttered popcorn is an excellent snack for birds, it’s not the only one out there that they’ll enjoy. Here are a few more snacks that you can safely feed to birds!


Fruits like bananas, mangos, and cantaloupes make excellent treats for birds. Wash them off thoroughly first, then chop them up into small pieces so the birds can easily pick at them.

Fruits make great healthy treats for birds, and since they’re sweet, there’s a good chance that the birds will keep coming back for more!

Bird Eating Fruit
Image Credit: lorilorilo, Pixabay


If you’re looking for affordable and super healthy treats that birds will love, look no further than beans. Just like with popcorn kernels, you’ll want to boil the beans first to soften them up, but then birds will eat them right up.

Don’t feed your bird raw beans, though, because they can be toxic, and never add any flavorings like salt when boiling them. They might seem bland to you, but it’s the only way to keep birds safe, and they don’t mind eating them plain!


While bread isn’t good for birds, pasta is. You can feed them both cooked and uncooked pasta, making it one of the easiest and most affordable treats that you can give them.

If you’re looking for a way to further entice birds, you can fill the noodles with nut butter or another healthy alternative. Pasta gives birds plenty of energy, it’s healthy for them, and they love the flavor!


Just like you need to be careful when feeding popcorn to birds, you need to double-check the ingredient list before feeding nuts to any birds. Many nuts contain salt, which can be toxic for birds.

You should thoroughly clean any nuts before feeding them to birds, but you don’t need to crack each one open. Birds love exercising their beak by breaking open the shells, which means when you feed them nuts, they get both a treat and a toy!

bird eating peanuts from feeder
Image Credit: suju-foto, Pixabay


Even if you don’t like spicy foods, that doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to give peppers to birds. Birds don’t have the necessary taste receptors to pick up the spiciness of peppers, so they have no problem chowing down on whatever you give them.

Whether you’re growing them or simply can’t find enough people to eat them, feel free to feed birds all the peppers that you want!

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Snacks to Avoid Giving Birds

While there are great snack options for birds out there, you still need to be careful of what you feed them. Even small quantities of the following foods can be extremely toxic for birds.

Apple Seeds/Fruit Pits

While various fruits are great for birds, you need to take the time to cut them up and remove any seeds and/or pits that they might have. These often contain amygdalin, which consists of cyanide and sugar.

While the quantities are low enough that humans don’t have to worry about it, it can be fatal for much smaller birds. Simply remove the pits and seeds of different fruits before feeding them to birds!


While most fruits are perfectly safe for birds, one that you should never feed them is the avocado. Avocados contain persin, which is extremely toxic to birds. It’s not something that humans need to worry about, but it can kill a bird.

Every part of the avocado contains persin, so there’s nothing that you can do to make these fruits safe for birds. Just pick a different fruit to feed them!

crow bird perching on wooden chair
Image Credit: Piotr Velixar, Shutterstock


Excess salt isn’t great for humans, but because birds are so tiny, even small amounts of salt can be toxic. In fact, birds are so sensitive to salt, even the salt content in a single potato chip can be toxic for them!

To keep them safe and healthy, let them get salt in their natural diet, and don’t give them any extra.


Chocolate is a no-no for most animals, and birds are no different. There are two different ingredients in chocolate that make it a terrible choice for birds: caffeine and theobromine. Both ingredients can lead to diarrhea, vomiting, rapid heart rate, seizures, and even death.

Since birds are so small, even tiny amounts of chocolate can lead to severe side effects, so do whatever you need to in order to keep chocolate away from birds.

Related Read: 10 Birds That Love to Eat Ticks (with Pictures)


If you’re thinking about feeding popcorn to birds, always check that there are no salt or other flavorings on it. Once you’re sure, feel free to feed popcorn to all the birds that you want!

Just ensure that if you’re feeding your bird, they’re still eating their commercial bird food so they can maintain a balanced diet and stay healthy.

Featured Image Credit: dbreen, 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.