Please don’t give wild birds bread, crackers or other human snack foods.
Bread has zero nutrition for wild birds. In fact, bread, crackers, chips and other human snacks are, in some ways, WORSE than feeding birds absolutely nothing. Why? Because bread is bad for birds.
Bread is really, really bad for birds.
Basically, bread robs birds of the opportunity to take in the true nourishment their bodies require to survive.
Bread offers wild birds absolutely ZERO nutrition. ZERO. But, how could it possibly harm them, if it has zero effect? Simply, bread fills up a small stomach in a hurry. The bird doesn’t know the food is useless, but leaves feeling full and satisfied, nonetheless. This is a deadly combination of factors, considering how many calories birds need to eat in order to survive.
To begin with, birds must be very efficient eaters due to rapid metabolism and the small size of their stomachs. Birds need to max out every meal in order to take in enough nourishment. This means a bird will always take full advantage of each and every feeding opportunity. Ideally, they should be filling up with food that has a high density of the proteins, fats and carbohydrates they require. The food Nature intended. Bread is not that food.
Eating bread can be deadly for birds.
The bird doesn’t realize it has wasted an opportunity to be nourished, it has eaten its fill. It will continue going about its business, its body burning calories just the same. With a stomach stuffed full of nothing. With no calories to metabolize to stay warm or provide energy to evade predators.
For a small bird, this can lead to tragedy very quickly. A Black-capped Chickadee can freeze to death overnight, with its stomach full of bread.
What about feeding bread to ducks and geese in the park?
Feeding ducks and geese in the park seems like such a benign activity. But, if we’re feeding them bread, we’re also robbing nourishment from them. For waterfowl, a daily diet of bread, crackers and other snack foods from well-meaning park visitors can also lead to tragedy. Angel Wing syndrome is just one heart-breaking example of what can happen when we feed our snacks and leftovers to water birds.
As for feeding wild ducks and geese, there is a great deal of debate as to whether we are doing them any favors by feeding them anything at all. However, there are alternative ways we can support their health. See this Audubon.com article, ‘Don’t Feed the Waterfowl‘.
People need to know, please pass it on: Bread is bad for birds!
Without realizing the consequences, and with all the best intentions, we’re doing more harm than good when we give birds ‘people food’.
Bread is Bad for Birds. This one little bit of info could make a big difference to the health and future of our wild birds. Please share this with everyone you know who loves wild birds.
What food is good for birds?
The good news is we don’t have to stop feeding the birds in our backyards, we just need to feed them the right food—food that maximizes the nutrition they require to survive and thrive.
See ‘Quality Bird Seed and Clean Feeders Matter‘ for more information about healthy food you can provide for wild birds.
What you feed wild birds matters.
When we provide fresh, high quality food in our backyard feeders, we have the opportunity to support the good health and well-being of our local birds. This is no small thing!
But, it’s doing more than that. Stop and consider the big picture: Healthy birds have healthy babies! What we feed wild birds today can make a difference for future generations of wild birds. And this is a HUGE thing!
Want to know more about how to feed birds in your backyard? See ‘Backyard Habitats: Food‘ under the Resources tab above.
What about birds that don’t eat seeds?
There are birds you’ll never see at your feeders, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to help them! Actually, the best thing you can do for insect and fruit eaters is, literally, to start doing ‘nothing’ to your yard. Here are two key things to stop doing, if you want to help wild birds:
Stop using pesticides and other chemicals in your yard.
Stop doing so much yard work.
Restore a little patch of natural habitat with the native plants that attract and support a healthy native insect population. By doing this, you’re also supporting our endangered native pollinators, like bees and butterflies. Find out more here: How to Support Native Pollinators.