Many of us have fond memories of feeding the birds but the sad truth is this can do more harm than good.
Everyone can picture the birds being fed breadcrumbs
in Disney’s Burbank lot outside St Paul’s thanks to Mary Poppins. Yes the birds might like it, but like many commonly consumed foods it can be harmful.
Modern Bread is Void of Nutrients
Most bread is very unhealthy for birds due to being heavily processed and containing preservatives, salt and sugar. The main ingredient is refined flour where all the nutritious part of the grain have been removed. Bread contains little protein and this is vital for birds to develop muscles and feathers. It fills a bird’s stomach but does not provide much nutrition. Bread also lacks fat and birds are reliant on fats for energy.
Modern bread is not that good for humans either, more of that below, but the health issues with bread are exasperated with birds. This applies to all bread products like bagels, crackers and doughnuts.
Wing deformities from poor diets can mean birds are unable to fly and lose their main defence mechanism. The deformity angel wing is where a wing joint is twisted and feathers point outwards instead of against the body. This is incurable in adult birds and generally leads to an early death. In young birds angel wing can be resolved with treatment to bind the wing and a nutritional diet. This is prevalent in areas where ducks are regularly fed bread.
Birds grow much quicker than us so a few days of a bad diet can cause irreversible damage.
In urban areas bread is causing malnutrition and obesity in swans. Ducklings that are fed large amounts of bread don’t get the nutrients needed for growth. This causes them to develop deformed wings, become aggressive, develop diabetes and hypertension.
Most garden birds are unable to metabolise salt and it’s not something that would naturally be found in significant amounts in their diet. Feeding processed foods like bread that are high in salt affects their blood pressure and nervous system.
What to Feed Birds
The good news is we can stop harming birds by feeding them nutritious food. Food pellets and seeds are inexpensive and will provide nutrition. Seeds contain vital fat and protein that birds need in order to be nourished and thrive. As they are nutrient dense they are small and easy to keep in a coat pocket.
Grapes chopped in half and kale in small strips are great for most birds due to being bite-sized and nutritious. Whatever food you feed them it needs to be in small pieces for their mouths.
Do research in your local area to ensure that the food you feed the birds is needed and therefore beneficial. Different birds in different locations have different needs.
Is Bread Healthy For Us?
Humans have been eating bread for thousands of years but traditional bread is very different to modern bread. Traditional bread is made with soaked, sprouted and fermented whole grains. Traditional breadmaking retains the nutrients, disables enzyme inhibitors, reduces anti-nutrients and therefore makes the nutrients more easily absorbed.
Modern bread is made with heavily refined flour without the healthy bran and germ meaning it’s just empty calories. Mass-produced bread is made with quick action yeast and has a high GI value that spikes blood sugar levels quickly. Bread products these days are very different to the type of bread that has been a part of the human diet for thousands of years.
All of my Healthy Recipes are free of wheat, refined sugar and gluten. Looking for a sprouted bread loaf then try my Buckwheat Almond Chia Bread. Or fancy a pizza then try my Quinoa Crust with Cashew Mozzarella one. For muffins my Sundried Tomato Quinoa Muffins are always a winner. For cakes I’ve got over 20 Healthy Cake Recipes that are all free of refined flour, sugar and gluten.
Don’t Feed the Birds Video
Mary Poppins is Copyright Walt Disney productions, the imagery used here to educate and inform under fair usage. Angel Wings photo is from Cengland0.
8 thoughts on “Feeding Bread Is Killing Birds”
Thank you for this very valuable info.I personally buy and soak cheap complete dog food.nutrition and moist too for this weather and suits all my local visitors to my bird table and about 8 pounds for a huge bag.lasts for ages.
I feed garden birds with mixture of wholegrain bread, mixed with meal worms, suet pellets & bird seed with suet balls all year round. is using wholegrain bread suitable. have been told byRSPB that I can .is that information correct.
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Can you cite any scientific study showing what you state is true? Several studies have been done to prove what you state because it makes sense but every single one I can find has found that bread is NOT harmful to birds. In fact, from the Dept of Agriculture site you can find the nutritional info on millet seed, which turns out to be very similar gram for gram to a slice of white bread. Other seeds are more nutritious and other seeds are less nutritious. The idea that bread is bad for birds seems to be simply urban ledgend or myth. It has also been shown NOT to be the cause of defirmed wings.
Thanks, Tom, for a contrasting view. Personally, I’ve always found millet to be an empty food also, leaving a stomach/blood feeling of something important being missing from it. Can you cite any scientific study showing what you state is true? 🙂
Can’t bird have gluten free biscuits?
It really depends on what the ingredients are, I’d stick to seeds
Birds are eliminated by pesticides just like the Bees. In Ontario, I can’t remember the last time I saw a Ring-Necked Pheasant or a Meadow Lark, but I moved to Nova Scotia, and yet here they are. I enjoy growing sunflowers for the birds. Seems they also like Elderberries as much as I do. I get competitive in this area.