Can You Give Birds Bread & Is It Good For Them?

Shaun Bird | Updated: August 2, 2020

As youngsters, whether we should have or not, you can be pretty sure that all of us or at least most of us have fed to birds at some point.  Either in our garden, yard or local pond.

So, the question is can birds eat bread?  Some people say bread can swell in a birds stomach and kill it, whilst others say that bread is ok as long as it’s wholemeal or brown bread.

But the simple answer is yes, birds can eat bread, however, bread lacks beneficial nutrients for birds and should only be fed to them occasionally and as part of a balanced diet.

Sparrow eating Bread

However, with garden birds, you don’t know what else they’re eating apart from the bread that you feed them, therefore, make sure you don’t throw too much out at once.

Why Can’t Birds Eat Bread?

Bread is a carbohydrate and will reduce hunger in birds.  Bread will fill a bird’s stomach with low nutrient food and make the bird feel full without providing the necessary energy they need.

Bird’s require high levels of protein, fat and other essential nutrients.

Overfeeding any type of bird with bread is unhealthy as it lacks vital nutrients and could be dangerous to a bird’s health if this their main food source.

Should a bird rely on bread alone it will gradually become weaker and more inactive.  This is dangerous all year round but especially in winter when other food sources are scarce.

Feeding bread to birds in winter and springtime is not a good idea due to the low levels of protein and fat.  Birds need plenty of protein and fat to survive winter and bread doesn’t provide that.

In spring, birds will also have a family to provide. Bread alone doesn’t offer young birds enough nutrition to help their bodies develop.

What Kind of Bread is Okay for Birds?

If you want a kind of bread that is ok for birds then feed the birds with bread that is healthy for humans is a good line to toe. Organic wholemeal or multi-grain is preferable.

To make bread even better for birds you can laden peanut butter all over the slice before breaking it up into smaller pieces.  Peanut butter is high in fat, calories, fat and magnesium.

Seeded Bread with Fibre

Can Birds Eat Stale Bread?

Stale bread is bad for birds, thus, the loaf should be fresh.   Bread is often harder when it goes stale, however, the reason stale bread is bad for birds is that it has started to deteriorate.

Using thawed bread (like other types of frozen food) can lose some of its nutritional benefits too.  As always, fresh bread is best should you not have more suitable bird foods to hand…

Can Birds Eat Mouldy Bread?

Mouldy bread already has fungus growing on it and can be very dangerous to birds.  Inhaling the spores can affect their lungs and potentially cause serious damage or death to a bird.

What is the Best Type of Bread to Feed Birds?

The best types of bread to feed birds are the ones that have grains, seeds, high fat and protein levels.  Check the ingredients label for seeds, nuts and grains before you buy it.

Multi-grain loaves of bread are high in fibre and are ideal for a bird’s digestive tract. For chicken owners, fibre can reduce feather pecking as this often happens due to a shortage of fibre.

How Often Should I Feed Bread to Birds?

There’s nothing wrong with feeding small amounts of bread to birds every few days. Let’s be realistic though, it generally isn’t the same birds visiting our gardens or homes, day in day out.

Don’t get me wrong, some birds will visit you especially if you’re feeding them.

To be on the safe side when feeding bread, I would break it into small pieces and put them in different places.  Try scattering the bread around your garden or sprinkle some on a bird table.

Can I Feed Bread to Ducks & Geese?

Recently in the UK, there was uproar when a sign went up at a private lake. It said ‘It’s ok to feed us Bread’, referring to ducks being able to eat bread.

After clarification, the RSPB claimed it was ok to feed ducks bread in small quantities.

Ducks

A Paddling of Ducks

This backs up what the informational poster said. The poster claimed ‘Yes, bread isn’t the healthiest but neither is having no food in our stomachs’.

Claimed by the poster & later reaffirmed by the RSPB, was to vary the foods you feed ducks and geese if possible.

Best Bread Alternatives That Ducks Will Eat include:

A simple rule is if you wouldn’t eat it then think twice about feeding it to a duck.

Ducks will also eat:

These aren’t ‘cupboard’ items but you can buy them dried or live and ready to feed ducks, geese and other birds.