Should I Feed Birds Bread? What You Need to Know

A classic mental image associated with bird feeding is someone sitting at a park bench and tossing birds bread. Many people still do this and I often get questions asking if it’s safe to feed birds leftover bread that may be sitting in your house.

While bread won’t necessarily harm birds (unless it’s moldy – more on that below). You shouldn’t feed birds bread for a few key reasons.

Feeding Birds Bread Offers No Nutritional Value

A House Sparrow eating a piece of bread off a plate outside. Feeding bird bread is a bad idea.
Bread has nothing to offer for birds!

According to the Humane Society, bread offers next to nothing in nutritional value to birds. Yes, this includes feeder birds and waterfowl like ducks and geese.

Bread will fill birds up quickly, giving them a sense of being full but with limited nutrients. This can impact their survival and can cause stomach issues. Birds will take any food they can get and will fill up on any edible food. If you toss them bread, they will gobble it up and will not have room to eat food with nutrients that they need to survive. This can be especially problematic in the winter, when birds need fat and protein to metabolize overnight to stay warm.

Instead of bread, you’re much better off offering birds these foods:

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) 

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

Moldy Bread Is Harmful to Birds

A House Sparrow swoops in on a tree branch to grab some bread. However, feeding birds bread offers next to nothing in nutritional value.

While you may think it’s efficient to put out leftover bread for birds, if the bread is stale or has mold, it’s harmful for them to eat. This can lead to health and growth problems.

Bread quickly becomes moldy, especially if you leave it outside. So, even what you think is a good piece of bread can go bad in a hurry. The risk isn’t worth it.

Related Content: Ranking Bird Seed from Worst to Best

Bread Will Attract Unpopular Birds and Other Guests

Don't feed birds bread. It can be harmful if the bread gets moldy.
House Sparrows and their friends will certainly take interest in bread you toss outside.

You’re not going to get colorful Northern Cardinals or American Goldfinches visiting to eat bread in your yard. Instead, you can expect House Sparrows and Starlings to swarm in. There’s nothing inherently bad about these birds, but you need to skip bread if you want a wider variety of species visiting you. My top recommendation for the widest variety of birds is sunflower seeds.

Oh, and tossing bread out will also up your chances of drawing in racoons and rats. 

Closing Thoughts

If you need more persuasion on why feeding bread to birds is a bad idea, you can check out the video below. I hope I’ve convinced you to hold the bread when it comes to feeding birds. There are too many better alternatives available. So, why take the risk of harming wildlife? Besides…I like bread too much to toss it out to birds in the first place.

For more on why you shouldn’t feed bread to birds.

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