Is It OK To Feed Bread To Birds?

Sparrow Eating Breadcrumbs

As many people know it is advised that you shouldn’t feed bread to ducks. However, we get a number of queries asking whether it’s ok to leave bread out for garden birds, and if so why the advice seems to be contradictory.

Leaving kitchen leftovers out for birds is a common way to help them supplement their diet these scraps often include pieces of old or stale bread or breadcrumbs.

Kitchen scraps

Feed garden birds

The argument is that bread, particularly white bread, has no nutritional value and therefore can do more harm than good. But bread does in fact have some nutritional value for birds. It is a good source of carbohydrates, which provide energy, and has some trace vitamins and minerals.

However, as with any food high in carbohydrates it has the potential to be a ‘junk food’, particularly if you eat too much of it or don’t eat it as part of a balanced diet.

When people leave bread out for the birds in their garden they usually include other kitchen scraps such as cheese, fruit and bacon. Birds in gardens also have an abundance of natural foods available including insects, seeds and berries so bread will make up just a small part of their diet.

Feeding ducks

What's good and what's not

What people don’t tend to do is buy a whole loaf of bread, specifically for feeding birds over a short period of time. And this is why it is advised that you shouldn’t feed bread to ducks but it’s ok to leave some bread out in the garden for birds.

Not only is the quantity of bread fed to ducks much larger but also many more people visit ponds and lakes and therefore it is impossible to know how much bread has already been fed to the ducks. In such large quantities ducks may not be able to eat all the bread in one sitting, which means it is left to go rotten which can cause harm to both the wildfowl and the environment.

If you do feed bread to the birds in your garden do not leave out large quantities, clean up any leftover food at the end of each day so it won’t go bad or attract vermin, include it as part of a varied diet and soak any hard pieces in a little water so that birds can’t choke on it.

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