Can I Feed Bread To Birds?

can i feed birds bread
Blue jays like the one in this photo are diet generalist and are better able to handle bread in their diets.

Feeding birds is a pleasure for many people. Because bread is such a staple food for humans, it is only natural to wonder if it is good for the birds. 

Yes, birds can eat bread and can process it in small amounts. Wild birds are good at taking the right amount of food, and bread is no exception. Birds typically eat the food they need and move on searching for other types of foods. Still, it is recommended that bread be offered to birds in small amounts. 

In terms of nutrition, bread is a low nutrient food that is rich in carbohydrates. Some types of bread, such as whole-wheat bread, have a higher nutrition value than white bread. But all types of bread have sugar, salt, preservatives, and other ingredients that birds are not necessarily used to consume in their regular diets. 

Here are some ideas about feeding bread to birds. If done right, bread can be a welcome addition to birds’ diets while enjoying watching them.  

Can birds eat bread without getting sick?

When birds eat large amounts of bread, it likely results in stomach issues such as diarrhea. Cage birds that eat too much of one thing often have stomach problems.

But wild birds do not take a lot of one thing at a time. When offered bread, they take so much of it and move on to other types of food. Birds are quick to recognize good or bad foods and avoid foods they do not like. Wild birds pick and choose the food they eat daily.   

Birds could potentially get sick if they eat a lot of bread for months. But getting sick would not be a direct consequence of eating too much bread but from having a nutrient-poor diet. A nutrient-poor diet is likely to result in a low immune system which makes birds vulnerable to diseases.  

Some argue that by offering bread to birds, they stop eating other types of food. In reality, wild birds take only so much bread and mix it with other foods throughout their daily routines. 

How about other ingredients in bread?

Regular bread uses ingredients that include sugar, salt, food preservatives, and other components. Birds may not be able to handle these ingredients if they are consumed in excess. These ingredients do little to fulfill the bird’s nutritional needs. 

Birds require a balanced diet composed of proteins, fat, and carbohydrates to stay healthy. Bread provides carbohydrates and fills their stomach but lacks other essential nutrients. 

Is whole-grain bread good for birds?

Wheat, bran, corn, barley, and rye are grains that wild birds eat regularly. Hence, whole-grain bread is better than, for instance, white bread. Whole-wheat bread contains wheat minimally processed, which still preserves essential nutrients.  

Whole-grain bread contains proteins, good fats, vitamins, and minerals. Whole-grain bread is a more nutritional choice, but still, it is recommended to feed it to birds in limited amounts. 

Hardy birds like grackles, starlings, pigeons, house sparrows, and blackbirds may handle bread better

Grackles, starlings, crows, house sparrows, and blackbirds are omnivorous birds, meaning that they eat just about any food they encounter. Having a diverse diet implies that they can handle different foods better than birds with more selective diets. Hardy birds eat fruit, insects, nectar, vegetables, seed, grains, and things in between. They can handle eating bread without a problem. However, it is still recommended to feed hardy birds only a limited amount of bread. 

A limited amount of bread means once a day making sure that all the bread offered is consumed. This ensures that birds will move on to look for other types of food after eating bread.

Can I feed birds stale bread?

Other than not tasting great to humans, stale bread preserves the carbohydrates and other nutrients. Depending on how old and how stale the bread is, it should be treated as any other type of bread, and it is safe to offer it to birds, as always on a limited basis. 

Can birds eat moldy bread?

All kinds of molds are toxic to birds. Bread molds can include several kinds of fungus. Those fuzzy spots you see on the bread are spore colonies, and that’s how mold reproduces. Birds can inhale these spores, causing an infectious lung disease called Aspergillosis. 

Removing the moldy patches off the bread and then giving it to birds could still make them sick. Mold roots spread deeper into the bread, and even though you no longer see the moldy patches, the bread still contains mold residue inside. 

Can baby birds handle eating bread?

The nutritional requirements of growing baby birds are high. Baby birds in the nest are fed about 3 or 4 times every hour and need food rich in proteins to grow fast and leave the nest as soon as possible. It is widely accepted that birds feeding chicks in the nest switch their normal diets for one with high protein content.

Adult birds switch their diets to include mostly insects when they are raising young birds.

Baby birds in the nest will be fed what their parents bring to them. Adult birds are likely to take little to no bread when they are feeding young. This is to say that baby birds would not have any problem eating bread because parents are likely to bring only so much bread to them.

If the question about baby birds and bread refers to hand-reared chicks, one should offer only a minimal amount of bread. Hand-reared baby birds do not have the parents to bring them a wide variety of different foods. Therefore bread should be provided to hand-reared birds in limited quantities or avoid it altogether.

What can I give birds instead of bread?

Satisfying birds’ nutrient needs is not difficult because their nutrients requirements are somewhat similar to those of humans. Hence, what we eat is largely good for the birds, within reason.

Birds can eat many types of kitchen scraps and grains from the pantry that have become old. Bruised fruit, nuts, beans, lentils, peanut butter, and beef fat are good food items to offer to birds in your backyards.  

As mentioned before, bread fed to your backyard birds should only be a supplement. You should still provide birdseed mixes, sunflower seeds, millet, mealworms, and other foods, along with bread. 

Final words

It is only natural to wonder if bread can be offered to birds. Yes, birds, particularly those that have generalist diets, can eat bread without any problem. Birds are pretty good at taking what they need and moving on to eat other types of foods. It is a good idea not to offer birds a lot of bread. Preferably, bread should be offered as a supplement along with regular seed mixes and other foods you normally offer to your birds.