Four Foods to Avoid Feeding Birds – What you Need to Know

Bird feeding is beneficial both for humans (our mental health, especially) and our backyard feathered friends. You can get more than a dozen species of birds visiting by putting out sunflower seed into a feeder. There’s no shortage of fun options you’ll find to feed birds when you visit a local bird feeding store.

But, some people feed birds by throwing out kitchen scraps for them to eat. This is a dangerous approach. As you’ll see below, many common foods we eat are actually harmful for birds.

With that, here are four foods you should never put out for birds to eat.

1. Bread

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Birds will eat bread if it’s sitting out…but it’s giving them nothing in terms of nutrients.

I previously wrote a detailed article on why you shouldn’t feed birds bread. Summed up, bread offers nothing to birds nutritionally. All it does is fill them up, while giving them no nutrients. This is especially troublesome in the winter, when birds need to store up fat and energy to survive cold evenings.

Also, bread can be harmful for birds. It molds quickly and that can hurt or kill birds. Even if you throw out fresh bread, it can get wet and moldy in a hurry.

Oh, and this also applies to other similar foods. Don’t feed birds pasta, oats, and cereal. Same deal: No nutritional value.

2. Salted Peanuts

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Salted peanuts are great at a baseball game, but aren’t safe for birds to eat.

Birds are unable to properly digest salt, along with other smoked, seasoned, or flavored nuts made specifically for humans.

However, I love using unsalted peanuts at my bird feeding station to specifically attract Blue Jays, Nuthatches, Northern Cardinals, and Chickadees. I highly recommend it as a high fat snack for birds, especially in the winter.

So, only buy peanuts specifically made for bird feeding. You can find these online, in hardware stores, or at local wild bird retailers.

Related Content: Blue Jays – The Proven Best Bird Seed for Them

3. Chocolate

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Don’t give chocolate to birds…eat it yourself!

Chocolate is poisonous to birds, just like it is to dogs and cats. Certain elements of chocolate and the caffeine is a no-no for birds.

So, don’t put out any chocolate or nuts with chocolate coverings for birds. It’s a win-win…you can keep more for yourself!

Source: Humane Society

4. Avocado

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Keep your avocado (and avocado toast) away from birds.

Avocado is toxic to certain birds due to a compound called persin. This applies to both the inside and skin of the avocado, so never put any part of it out for birds.

Source: University of Illinois

Foods You SHOULD Feed Birds

Luckily, there are many great choices that birds will appreciate if you put them out in a feeder! Here are my quick hits below.

Sunflower seeds (good fat/quality oil content)

Peanuts (good fat treat for birds, especially in the winter)

Suet (good fat, especially in the winter)

White Millet (good source of protein)

Cracked Corn (not as great, but some nutrients are involved here) 

I also put together an extensive story all about the different foods you can put out for birds linked here.

If feeding the birds is getting expensive for your budget, I encourage you to also check out my story on saving money while feeding the birds

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