What can you feed birds instead of bread: 8 amazing alternatives

Many of us may have spent our childhoods laying breadcrumbs on a bird table for backyard visits during the winter or feeding bread to ducks at the neighborhood pond. However, according to current recommendations, providing bread to birds is harmful and should be avoided. 

Does bread harm birds, then? Or is it okay for birds to consume a fair bit of bread? And what can you feed birds instead of bread? Continuing reading to find out! 

Is bread good for birds? Can birds eat bread?

Many people found it delightful to feed birds while seeing them outside. Because bread is such a staple food for humans, it is only natural to wonder if it is suitable for birds. 

The answer, however, could be better than most people expected. Although bread is not inherently “bad” for birds, it is not beneficial for their nutrition or health. According to National Library of Medicine, bread lacks the nutrients, lipids, and protein that birds require to be healthy. Bread is too rich in sodium and chloride to be suitable for birds. Instead, a diet high in bread can quickly fill a bird’s stomach and discourage it from looking for healthy food. 

Even while bread won’t hurt a bird’s health in tiny amounts, it must be used sparingly and as a last option because a diet consisting primarily of it would eventually be harmful to birds.

what can you feed birds instead of bread
Can birds eat bread? What can you feed birds instead of bread?

What can you feed birds instead of bread?

Instead of getting out the breadcrumbs for the birds, many better and healthier solutions may be provided. Choosing items that closely resemble wild birds’ typical diets is a much better choice when feeding them. 

Popular foods that will draw a variety of birds to your garden include grains, seeds, nuts, fruit, and mealworms. Some birds will be attracted to nectar feeders while giving suet in the winter will provide birds with a high-energy snack to increase their chances of surviving in the harsher weather. Let’s break down what can you feed birds instead of bread. 


This comprises all kinds of grains in their natural condition, such as beans, lentils, corn, wheat, and rice. These grains frequently lie in the cupboard for years and might be unsafe to eat. Grain is a perfect household meal for backyard birds if it is dry and properly kept. Depending on the grain size, you might need to smash it into manageable bits for birds.

Crushed grains are consumed by both selective and generalist eaters who visit feeders. Goldfinches, finches, buntings, grosbeaks, and native sparrows are among the grain-eating birds. These birds are less inclined to experiment with new meals since they have definite feeding preferences.

Source: BBC Wildlife Magazine


For many birds, nuts are a good food source. It is necessary to smash stale or old peanuts, pecans, almonds, walnuts, and even raisins into tiny bits before giving them to birds. The majority of birds eat little nuts. Every habitual grain consumer enjoys nuts. Nuts are a favorite food for woodpeckers, titmice, chickadees, cardinals, and bluejays. Most nuts are nourishing to birds since they are high in oil content and carbs. 

Moldy grains and nuts must not be provided to birds, despite being very adept at sensing and rejecting food that is not in its best condition. Also, avoid giving birds nuts coated with sugar, salted, or artificial flavorings.

Bird on a yellow autumn background


Many birds love fruit. Fruit is among the food that is the most wasted in households. Bruised apples and bananas, slightly old berries, and other fruit can easily be chopped into small pieces and offered to birds. Cut the fruit’s bruised area, impale it on the feeder, cut it into pieces, and put it on a plant saucer. Fruit is not as nutritious as grains and nuts but has essential sugar and plenty of carbohydrates, which constitute quick energy for birds. The crow family includes crows, magpies, and jays; the cardinal family includes cardinals and tanagers; the blackbird family includes starlings, grackles, and orioles, as well as certain warblers and sparrows, are among the birds that prefer eating fruit. 

Source: Animal Hype


Birds occasionally eat buds and other plants. While a few finches and sparrows might nibble on some vegetables, the birds won’t eat the veggies. The nutrient-rich food backyard birds could not quickly get into the wild drew them to the feeders. Green veggies don’t attract birds at feeders and have a lot of replacements in the wild. Peas, finely sliced carrots, cooked potatoes, and other vegetables are sometimes included. Bird flocks are likely to eat these kinds of vegetables.

Hard-boiled eggs

Hard-boiled eggs are a preferred food source for cagebirds like canaries and other finches. One of the best sources of proteins is hard-boiled eggs. Wild birds may be given some eggs, but it would take some time for them to realize that it was food when it was provided to them.

Animal Fat/Suet

Animal fat is commonly fed to backyard birds, particularly in the winter when insects and other sources of proteins are scarce. It’s common to observe robins, dunnocks, long-tailed tits, blue tits, and great tits munching on fat. Backyard birds would consume any fat, but beef is the recommended and most common animal fat type offered to birds.

Ideally, fat needs to be rendered before providing it to birds. Render fat by heating it at a low temperature until it melts, all proteins solidify, and any water is evaporated. While still liquid, separate or filter the fats from the solids. You’re left with clean, pure, rendered fat as the grease cools. You can mix suet with other ingredients, such as corn meal, peanuts, fruits, or even dried insects, which is known as suet cake.


The song thrushes, dunnocks, blackbirds, and robins enjoy mild grated cheese. Placing it beneath hedgerows and other spots in your yard where you’ve seen wrens eating can also benefit them.


All of the following are acceptable foods for birds: baked potatoes (cold and opened up), roast, and even mashed potatoes with additional fundamental fats. Birds seldom consume chips. Parrots and Pheasants are the two types of birds that prefer this food. 

So, these are the answer to the question: “What can you feed birds instead of bread?”. However, some of you may wonder, WHAT IF, it’s not white bread but other bread? Can it be suitable to feed the birds? Here is the FAQ for your curiosity.  

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birds eat bread crumbs?

Small amounts of crumbled bread are OK, but moisten it if it is too dry. Make careful to smash the bread into little pieces to make it safer to ingest during the mating season. Baby birds will choke on dry bread bits, and a chick raised solely on bread may not mature into a healthy fledgling.

Can birds eat whole-wheat bread?

Generally speaking, bread that is better for people is also better for birds. The best bread is made with whole wheat or multiple grains, especially organically and with few preservatives.

Can birds eat sourdough bread?

In general, sourdough bread may be eaten by birds if it is provided in moderation. Like any bread, it doesn’t offer much nutritional value to a bird’s diet, but even the tiniest morsels of food will be appreciated throughout the winter. The safest option is to use sourdough bread that hasn’t been freshly prepared, as the wet, chewy texture of freshly produced sourdough would make it difficult for birds to digest.

Can birds eat garlic bread?

Garlic bread is not suitable for consumption by birds and may be harmful to their digestive systems. The garlic bread will cause excruciating discomfort as it grows larger and retain moisture in a bird’s digestive system. It’s better to refrain from providing a bird with any bread, even garlic bread.

Final Thoughts

It makes sense to question whether bread can be given to birds. Yes, birds can consume bread without issues, especially those with generalist diets. Birds are adept at drinking what they require and eating different kinds of food. Avoid providing birds with a lot of bread. The best option is to augment regular seed mixtures and items you typically give your birds with bread. Now you know what you can feed birds instead of bread!