If you love to feed the wild birds in your garden, or at the park, chances are you’ve fed them leftover food from time to time. Some foods in our kitchen are fine to feed to birds, while others could actually be doing them more harm than good. In this guide, we’ll discuss what not to feed wild birds – and what you can feed them instead! Take a look.

what can birds eat

Some foods are toxic to our wild birds

Always avoid feeding birds these foods from your kitchen.

Avocado

This so-called superfood is not so super for our wild birds. Vegetables are typically healthy for birds, but avocados contain a fatty, acidic substance that can cause a wide range of health problems for wild birds, including heart damage and even sudden death.

Fruit pits or seeds

Most fruits are fine for birds to eat, but it’s important to avoid fruits that have seeds or pits in them. If you’re going to feed the birds in your garden fruits like apples, pears, apricots or peaches, make sure you fully remove the pits or seeds beforehand.

Chocolate

Always avoid feeding birds chocolate. You’d be surprised at how many people have tried feeding chocolate to birds before – and just like humans, they find it hard to resist! However, chocolate is actually toxic to birds as it contains theobromine and caffeine. Feeding chocolate to the birds in your garden could cause them to suffer from diarrhoea, seizures and may even cause death in some circumstances.

Milk

Birds’ guts are not designed to digest milk properly, which can result in an upset stomach or much more serious health problems – so don’t be tempted to put a tray of milk on your feeder!

Can birds eat bread?

Although bread isn’t harmful to birds, it’s best not to feed it to them in large quantities as it has very little nutritional value, and birds need highly nutritious foods in order to maintain their busy lifestyles. Small amounts won’t do them any harm, but there are more nutritional options you’ll probably find in your kitchen.

What to feed birds from the kitchen

Now that you know what foods you should avoid feeding the birds in your garden, here are some foods you can feed them (as a replacement) straight from your kitchen cupboard or fridge. 

what not to feed wild birds

Fruits

Fruits without seeds, like berries, raisins, grapes and mashed bananas can all be offered to the birds on your bird table – and they’ll love them!

Cooked rice

Make sure it’s cooked, but brown and white rice are a healthy kitchen food that the wild birds in your garden will love! Some species, such as pigeons and doves, will eat uncooked rice but it’s unlikely any other species will enjoy it.

Potatoes

That’s right, birds love potatoes! You can roast them or mash them and they’ll be a guaranteed hit with your feathered friends! Avoid processed potatoes like chips or crisps, though.

Porridge oats

Porridge oats could also be a nutritious food source for the birds in your garden, and chances are you’ll have them readily available in your kitchen. However, ensure the oats are uncooked as cooked oats could harden around a bird’s beak. 

What is the best food for wild birds?

Most garden bird species (including robins, blackbirds and hedge sparrows) will enjoy bird seeds, nuts and live or dried mealworms – such as our mealworms for birds. It’s always best to feed the birds in your garden high-quality food to ensure they are receiving the nutrition they require to go about their busy lives.