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How many of you reading this have thrown out scraps of bread onto the lawn for the birds or put it onto a platform feeder? It’s something that a lot of people do, but is it ok, or could it pose a health risk to our feathered friends? Let’s take a closer look at whether it is safe to feed bread to wild birds.
Is Feeding Bread to Wild Birds Bad?
The whole point of offering food to wild birds is to provide them with some nutrition. However, when we feed them white bread, this contains very little to no nutritional value. In short, it’s just a way to fill their bellies without any other advantage. In fact, offering empty carbs like bread could eventually lead to the bird becoming malnourished. You see, birds don’t have as much need for carbs as they do things like fats and proteins; none of which are in abundance in bread.
That said, it’s also worth keeping in mind that different birds have different needs, and some species can tolerate certain foods better than others. Consider the chicks. If they are eating food like bread that offers no nourishment, this could affect their growth and health. Moreover, if baby birds come to rely on humans providing them with a food source, they’re unlikely to learn the necessary skills to become self-sufficient.
While bread isn’t considered to be toxic to birds, it may do more harm than good when they eat a lot of it.
If you do have a small amount of bread, it is ok to offer this as an occasional treat to save it from going to waste. But the birds will gain nothing from it. If you have put out bread as a treat for the local birds, we would suggest removing any that remains uneaten at the end of the day as you may otherwise experience problems with pests like rats and mice.
Is Brown Bread Better than White Bread for Wild Birds?
There are a lot of myths surrounding feeding bread to birds, and one of them is that brown bread is generally better than white. But is there any truth in this?
As a matter of fact, there is. When we talk about brown bread, we are referring to the kind that contains seeds and grains. Since these contain a few more essential nutrients than white bread alone, they are typically considered a little better for birds, nutritionally speaking.
For wholemeal bread that does not contain any seeds, the nutritional value is very much the same as white bread. It is the presence of a seeded crust that makes some brown breads a slightly better choice. But again, this should not replace the natural diet of a bird. If you do wish to offer multigrain bread, it is a good idea to break it into small pieces and cover those pieces in peanut butter which will provide the birds with the protein and fat that is so important for them.
Should You Soak Bread before Feeding it to Birds?
If you are going to offer bread to local birdlife, it is essential to serve it in the right way. Dry bread can be a choking hazard, especially for younger birds so when you soak the bread, it is much easier for the birds to ingest.
Also, keep in mind that offering stale bread is not recommended. This is because the product has already started to deteriorate, which could be bad news for the bird. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself then don’t feed it to the birds. This is especially true if there is any mold present, as the spores in this can be very damaging to the health of the birds.
Offer fresh bread at all costs and soak it to make it easier to eat.
Is it Safe to Feed Baby Birds Bread?
One of the main problems with feeding bread to baby birds is that it isn’t going to serve any nutritional purpose. Just like baby humans that need a primary diet of milk in order to physically develop and grow, birds need just the right diet. Bread has no nutritional value and so offering it to chicks could stunt their development and prevent them from growing into healthy adults.
Moreover, small chicks will find it very difficult to eat chunks of bread, and it could serve as nothing more than a choking hazard. If you absolutely must offer bread in breeding season, we would advise breaking it down into the smallest possible pieces, getting it to crumbs where possible. This will limit the number of choking incidents among chicks.
Can You Feed Ducks & Geese Bread?
If there is one activity that families take part in to kill an hour or two at the weekend without having to spend any money, it’s going to feed the ducks. For most of us, this is something we do without a second thought. For the most part, it’s also done with nothing but good intentions. After all, you’re giving water birds a free meal, what could be wrong with that?
There has been some research that suggests offering additional foods like bread can affect bird populations. This is as a result of the birds not having to expend energy on things like foraging and coming to rely on human supplies.
Now, let us just clear one thing up; if you want to take the kids to the local river or lake and feed the ducks some bread, there’s generally nothing wrong with this. The key is to only offer bread in small amounts. But that can be difficult to judge since you have no way of knowing what bread the birds have already consumed. In places that are popular with duck feeders, birds could be living on a diet that consists mainly of bread, and that’s where you need to be careful.
As we have already discussed, birds that live in a diet made up of bread can quickly become malnourished. This is because they will feel full, but the food they have eaten contains nothing beneficial. In fact, in some cases, bread could cause deformities and diseases in geese and ducks, in particular a condition known as angel wing which could stunt their ability to fly.
But you also need to think about how throwing bread into a body of water could affect the natural ecosystem. Bread is a manmade product that certainly isn’t designed to be in a lake, pond, river, stream, or anything else. When you keep throwing it in, any that isn’t eaten will disintegrate which may encourage further algae growth. As a direct result of this, more pests and diseases are present and this can upset the natural balance of things.
If you’re considering heading down to your local park to feed the ducks this weekend, why not try a different type of food? Things like rice, lettuce, and sweetcorn are all ideal. However, you should still limit how much you offer to prevent overcrowding of spaces and to stop birds from relying on humans to feed them.