Can birds eat bread?

In this brief guide, we’ll address the query: “Can birds eat bread?” Also, we’ll explore what a bird’s diet consists of, and what foods should people avoid feeding birds. 

Can birds eat bread? 

Birds can eat bread, so long as it isn’t in large quantities and it is only a supplement to their otherwise quite varied diet.

Bread is not toxic to birds, but if consumed in excess it can lead to the accumulation of carbohydrates, and as a result, birds may be malnourished, as they may have replaced other more nutritious foods in their diet with the intake of empty calories from bread.

Users who are keen on supplying birds with feed can instead use small portions of bread, soaked in water (so that it doesn’t get stuck on the way down) and they can alternate it with bits of fruit and leftover scraps. 

However, users should be mindful of the volumes and the type of feed that they leave out for birds. This is because they may inadvertently attract other animals such as scavengers and vermin that may transmit disease, and require professional control measures.   

What is a bird’s usual diet? 

A bird’s diet will depend on the species and its feeding habits. 

For example, hummingbirds have a notoriously different diet than owls and corvids (crows). The former use nectar as sustenance, while the latter hunt and scavenge.  

Generalizing, birds can have a varied diet: they can eat seeds, fruits (berries, stone fruits), insects (borers, caterpillars, moths, beetles, stink bugs), other invertebrates (spiders, centipedes, millipedes, earthworms), dry fruits (acorns, nuts, pod seeds), small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, carrion, garbage, leftover scraps, etc.

It is important to note that if readers install bird feeders or otherwise leave food out for species such as sparrows, robins. and other parid birds, this may draw predatory carnivorous birds such as falcons, shrikes, sparrow hawks, and other types into the vicinity.  

What foods should people avoid feeding birds? 

Foods that are contraindicated for feeding birds include chocolate, avocado, seed pits, milk, onions, and processed foods (such as meats, junk food, candy, and snacks). Additionally, foods that are high in sodium are contraindicated for feeding birds. 

Chocolate is toxic to birds, as it contains plant compounds theobromine and caffeine. Both of these substances are contraindicated for birds, as they damage liver and kidney functions in birds. 

All birds have an intolerance for lactose, ergo any food product laced with milk or dairy may provide fatal to them. 

The sulfur content present in onions makes them toxic to birds, and even when cooked, these substances may leach into other foods (such as vegetables), making them also unsafe for birds to consume. 

Stones from fruits or seed pits may also be noxious if left within a bird’s reach, due to their cyanide content. The flesh of these fruits is safe for them to consume, though the pits must be discarded before serving them. 

Pulse seeds should not be offered to birds when raw, as their PHA content makes them extremely toxic and potentially lethal. Canned pulses such as beans, peas, chickpeas, faba beans, and others can be offered to birds, as cooking them breaks down the Phytohaemagglutinin

Bread, when inadequately prepared, can be deadly to birds. Regardless of their status as -empty calories- morsels that are too big and dry can lead to blockage of the esophagus: a deadly dilemma. 

If users wish to maintain a safe bird feeder, they can stock it with sugar water (that needs to be regularly changed to prevent the growth of molds and bacteria), cooked rice, ground oats, cooked potatoes, ground nuts, and small amounts of crumbled, soaked bread. 

When preparing sugar water, it shouldn’t be sweetened with honey, as some types (particularly raw honey), may contain microbes and toxins that can be deadly to species such as hummingbirds

To summarize, we encourage our readers to consult with ornithologists (bird scientists), who can provide tailored orientation and help users set up an environmentally-friendly bird feeder. 


In this brief guide, we have addressed the query: “Can birds eat bread?” Also, we’ve explored what a bird’s diet consists of, and what foods should people avoid feeding birds. 


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