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 three key reasons.
Feeding Birds Bread Offers No Nutritional Value
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
While you may think it’s smart and 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 becomes moldy quickly, 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.
Bread Will Attract Unpopular Birds and Other Guests
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.
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.
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