It can be argued that people have been feeding birds for thousands upon thousands of years. By offering scraps of food that would otherwise be wasted to the open vastness of your backyard, you can bring in all sorts of different birds.
If you are interested in feeding the birds in your area, but do not have easy access to birdseed or you want to offer the birds a more varied diet, there are plenty of foods in the kitchen that you can offer to your backyard friends.
With that being said, it is important for you to have a good grasp on what birds eat, what foods you should keep in the kitchen, and why bread should not be offered to birds even if the media commonly portrays it as a good bird food. By keeping these things in mind, you can keep the birds in your backyard returning for more food, healthier than ever.
What Foods Do Backyard Birds Typically Eat?
It is important to make sure that you have a firm and solid grasp on what most birds eat. When you know what foods birds can eat, it means that you can quickly narrow down your options in the kitchen so that no food is wasted, rotting in your backyard, and untouched by birds. While all birds are different, there is enough overlap in the diets of birds that you can easily form an average diet.
Most birds that you will find in your backyard are frugivores or granivores. Frugivores are animals that consume predominately fruits, fruit-like plant produce, roots, nuts, and seeds. Granivores are animals that consume predominantly grains and seeds of plants. There is often a fair bit of overlap, with many birds eating a combination of fruits and seeds.
There are a handful of birds that will supplement this with insects. Birds that consume predominately insects are known as insectivores, and they feed on insects for the high protein source that most fruits are not going to provide. Now that you know what most birds usually eat, you can begin looking through your kitchen to find foods to feed the birds.
Foods From Your Fridge That You Could Feed to Birds
As you wonder what to feed birds from the kitchen, the most obvious place to start is going to be with your fridge, as this is where produce is kept. Most produce is something that birds can eat. Even if one species of bird in your backyard cannot eat specific fruits, chances are that one of the backyard birds you have will be able to consume it.
Popular produce items that you can feed birds include apples (without the seeds), bananas, peas, potatoes, and sweet corn. All of these foods should be offered in moderation, as too much sugar can disrupt a bird’s health. Produce isn’t the only thing that your fridge can offer birds though.
Hardboiled eggs, eggshells, and cheese can all be fed to birds, as some birds that have a more animal-focused diet can benefit from the protein found in these foods. Some birds, especially crows, will readily eat meat, but it is not recommended to throw meat in your yard as you will attract animals that are less desirable than birds.
Foods From Your Pantry That You Could Feed to Birds
There are some foods that are commonly kept in the pantry that you can offer birds as well. These are generally foods that contain fruits, grains, seeds, or nuts in some regard, rather than being freshly grown produce that benefits all the frugivore birds that frequent your backyard feeders.
Some of the most popular of these foods include raisins, peanut butter, pasta, rice, and certain cereals. With some of these items, you are going to want to be careful with the amount that you feed them. They may contain compounds that do not negatively affect people, but birds are much smaller and have different digestive systems than people do.
Raisins should be boiled to make them a little bit easier for birds to eat. Cereals should not include a considerable amount of sugar. Instead, you will want to opt for plain cereal such as rolled oats. Stale cereals can also be used. Pasta and rice should not be damp and moist, but should not be left completely uncooked as this can be too hard on birds.
Foods Around the Kitchen That You Could Feed to Birds
Finally, there are some foods that you may just have lying around. These may be foods in the cupboard that are kept in a specific snack-designated area. These may be foods that you unearth while cleaning off the countertop. No matter where these foods came from, it is always worth checking if the birds in your yard could benefit from them.
One of the most common foods in this category are nuts. This could be the nuts found in a trail mix or this could be a jar of seasoned nuts. While most birds are not exactly picky about the nuts they eat, you should do your part to make sure that the nuts are safe for the birds. Unseasoned, unsalted nuts are the best, as any flavored nuts are likely going to have too much seasoning for a bird’s digestive system to handle.
You can also consider stale bread, donuts, cake, and crackers. Make sure that the pieces are small and any pieces that are particularly stale are softened up slightly. Bread should never be a main source of food for birds, but the occasional treat of it can help bring more to your yard in the hopes of more.
What Foods Should You Avoid Feeding Birds?
Just as there are plenty of foods that birds can eat, there are many foods that you should not leave out for birds. One of the most commonly mentioned foods in this category are seasoned, flavored, or salted nuts. While nuts themselves can be good for birds, the amount of seasoning, flavors, and salt that some nuts have on them can be lethal to birds. Even if the flavor is relatively mild, it is best to play it safe and only offer birds unsalted, unseasoned nuts.
Never, ever feed birds foods that are visibly rotting. Stale foods are generally fine, as staleness only affects the texture and taste. Rotting, out-of-date, and molding foods should never be fed to birds as they can get exceedingly sick from this.
Meat was mentioned earlier. While there are absolutely birds that eat meat, you should avoid leaving out raw meat in particular, as this can attract bacteria and pests that may harm the birds that eat the meat. If you are going to run the risk of leaving meat out in your yard, you should make sure that it is at least cooked.
Why Is Bread Problematic?
Almost every form of media portrays bread as being the go-to for feeding birds. For a long time, it has been. However, people have been coming to realize that feeding bread to birds is problematic in a number of different ways. Depending on how much you are feeding the birds, the issues can range anywhere from reducing the bird’s ability to absorb vitamins it needs to the fact that most store-bought bread has a lot of preservatives and other chemicals that birds shouldn’t eat.
The first issue can be equated to that of a young child eating too much dessert before dinner. Birds like bread a lot. They will prioritize eating bread over eating other foods. The problem with this is that bread provides next to no nutritional value for birds, so it just takes up space in their stomachs. Even though birds have a quick digestive system, this is still energy spent digesting food that did not nourish the bird.
The second problem is one that is more difficult to get around. Almost all store-bought bread has quite a few chemicals, preservatives, and other remains of the heavy processing that it goes through. These compounds do not occur in high enough quantities to affect humans, but for birds, this can be overwhelming and make the bird sick. If you are going to offer bread to the birds, make it yourself.
There is no denying the fact that people love being able to feed birds. By making sure that you are well-informed on what birds can and cannot eat, you can keep your backyard birds healthy and happy, coming back to your yard each and every day for more food. There are many, many foods all around the kitchen that you can offer birds.
Fresh produce, cereal, and even eggshells are all common examples of this. Just remember that even though the media portrays bread as a great food for birds, bread offers nothing for birds and often causes more harm than good.