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Last updated: March 17, 2022
If you love having birds in and around your backyard, then you may need to help them with feeding, especially during the colder winter months.
One simple, easy and cost effective way to help birds with their daily nutrition intake, is by offering them oats or oatmeal, in addition to other kitchen scraps and food items.
In this article, I am going to explain why oats and oatmeal are good for birds, and I will also explain how best to prepare bird food with oatmeal.
Can You Feed Birds Oatmeal?
Yes, birds can certainly eat oats.
And that is great news, because oats, and oatmeal, are so readily available and almost all of us will have some available in the kitchen.
What Are Oats?
Oats are essentially a type of cereal grain that are grown for its seeds. They are a suitable food for humans, and they are also widely used as livestock feed.
Oats are cultivated and consumed around the world, but are best grown in temperate climates as they have a greater tolerance of rain and a lower summer heat requirement than other cereals.
The most common type of oats that consumers are familiar with are rolled oats. Rolled oats have been dehusked and steamed, and then rolled into the flat flakes that we can buy in the supermarkets.
A raw oat has a hard outer shell called a husk, which is inedible and must be removed, which is called dehusking.
What’s left is an oat groat that still has a tough bran layer which, although nutritious, needs to be steamed so that it becomes easier to consume. The steaming process also helps with preservation.
Steel-cut oats, also called pinhead oats, are another type of oats. These are oats that are chopped into smaller pinhead-sized pieces before steaming. They tend to be nuttier and chewier.
For bird food, plain rolled oats are the most suitable.
Oats and Nutrition
As mentioned, oats are a great food source for birds. Oats are not only loved by birds, they also offer a lot of nutritional value.
Oats are a great source of fiber, protein and fat, in addition to B vitamins, manganese, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and iron.
Please note though, that for birds, oats must be uncooked, and they should not be softened up by liquids such as milk or plain water.
What Types of Birds Eat Oats?
Since oats are grains, they are eaten by granivorous birds. A bird is considered granivorous when their diet consists primarily of seeds and grains.
Examples of granivious birds are:
- Blue Jays
- Northern Cardinals
- Red-winged Blackbirds
- Bunting birds
- Mourning Doves
Many birds that visit backyards are actually granivorous, probably because that is where they can best find some of their food sources.
How to Make Bird Food With Oatmeal?
I personally love having birds visiting, or even living in, my backyard. I have built birdhouses of all kind and I also provide food sources during the colder months of the year.
Oats are a great way to feed birds, and I have tried the following three simple ways to offer them to birds in my backyard.
1. Plain Oats
The easiest way to feed birds oats is by simply spreading plain rolled oats onto a bird feeding platform or onto the ground.
As mentioned further above in this article, don’t feed birds cooked oats, and simply stick with plain rolled oats instead.
Cooked oatmeal tends to get hard and dry really quick, especially in the outdoors, and just makes it more difficult for birds to digest.
2. Oats Mixed With Nuts and Seeds
To make oats even more attractive as a bird food, it’s a good idea to mix it up with other nuts and seeds.
Birds obviously don’t just go for oats, but they will definitely be looking out for nuts and seeds. Mixing in oats just adds a bit of variety to their feeding.
Please note that some birds prefer to feed on the ground, and they tend to avoid platforms and bird feeders altogether. Do some experiments in your own backyard and see what works best.
3. Fat Balls
Another highly effective way to feed birds is by creating delicious fat balls with oatmeal.
Simply mix two parts suet or pork fat with one part oatmeal, cover it with a little net, and hang it up somewhere in the backyard or place it in a traditional suet bird feeder.
Birds absolutely love fat balls, especially during the colder winter months, as it’s such a great source of nutrition.