What to Feed Birds From the Kitchen

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Last updated: March 17, 2022

Did you know that you can use kitchen scraps as bird food?

By offering the right scraps to birds, in addition to traditional bird food, you’re providing a greater variety in nutrition sources, while also reducing landfill waste.

In this article, I am going to explain what kind of scraps and other food items from your kitchen you can feed birds, and I am also going to outline what the benefits are of doing just that.

10 Kitchen Scraps to Feed Birds

In no particular order, here are ten types of kitchen leftovers you can feed birds, from breakfast cereal and rice to raisins and bananas.

1. Cereal

Breakfast cereal can work great as a tasty food source for wild birds in your backyard. But not just any breakfast cereal though.

For the best nutrition value, go for cereal with low sugar content and fewer artificial additives and flavorings. The wholegrain and natural fruit ingredients in the healthier breakfast cereals are excellent for wild birds.

This includes oatmeal as well. Read my article about oats and bird food for more information about this and how best to prepare and feed it to birds.

2. Baked Goods

This is a classic choice of bird food taken straight from the kitchen, and it works remarkably well. Stale bread, biscuits, crusts, crackers, cookies, most birds will appreciate this type of food.

Bird eating bread

Just be sure to break things up into smaller pieces, and perhaps soak the harder pieces in a bit of water to make it easier for birds to consume. Also make sure the food is still in reasonably good shape and not moldy.

Don’t overdo this type of kitchen scrap though, as the nutritional value is quite low compared to some of the other food items on this list.

3. Pasta and Rice

Cooked rice and pasta can also be offered to wild birds, as they are a great source of carbohydrates.

It should be plain rice and pasta though, not meal leftovers with extra bits like sauce, thick cheese, or spices. It’s best to cut the pasta into smaller, edible pieces.

4. Fruits

There is a whole range of fruits that you can feed to wild birds in the backyard, such as as raisins, apples, grapes, berries, bananas, oranges and grapefruits.

What also works really well, for even more variety, is the seeds of certain fruits, such as pumpkins, watermelons and honeydew melons.

Bird eating fruit

When you’re feeding common fruits like apples and bananas to birds, be sure to remove the skin and slice them in small pieces. Also don’t forget to remove the seeds from apples.

If you happen to have fruit trees in your backyard, there’s no need to offer leftover kitchen fruit to birds. Birds happily eat fruit from the trees, or otherwise fruit that has fallen off.

5. Vegetables

Just like fruits, some leftover vegetables can also work really well as a type of food for wild birds.

Common leafy greens, such as spinach and kale, are liked by some bird species. And otherwise frozen peas, corn, and baked potatoes will definitely attract more birds to your backyard.

6. Nuts

We can buy nuts as a traditional raw bird food, which is mostly peanuts, but other nuts that we buy for ourselves can also be offered to wild birds.

Bird eating nuts

For example, walnuts, pecans and almonds are going to be much appreciated by birds visiting your backyard. Just make sure they are raw or lightly roasted nuts.

It’s recommended to crush the nuts you’re feeding, or you could also use leftover peanut butter to feed birds.

7. Cheese

This may come as a surprise, but cheese as a kitchen scrap can also be consumed by birds, but not all types of cheese.

The best cheese for birds is the harder, stale bits of cheese like cheddar, but certainly not moldy cheese. Softer cheeses, such as cream cheese or brie, are not suitable for birds.

8. Meat

Lots of birds feed on insects, and in that way they’re a good addition to any backyard as it keeps the ecosystem in good health.

Bird eating fat ball

But we can also feed tiny bits of meat as kitchen leftovers to birds, such as beef fat or meat bones, for a good dose of protein.

9. Eggs

Cooked eggs are not only very nutritious for humans, they can also be good for birds. Mix some egg bits with other conventional bird food, and it will get eaten.

You may also consider preserving and processing egg shells for nutrition, as they are loaded with calcium. To do so, clean the shells, then crush and grind them, and place them in a pot or container.

10. Pet Food

Dog and cat food can also be used as bird food, so why not allocate a tiny portion of your dog’s meal to the birds in your backyard.

Bird eating from feeder

Just make sure to cut and crush pet food into smaller pieces for birds to munch on.

Benefits of Kitchen Scraps as Bird Food

Why would you repurpose kitchen scraps as bird food? Well, there’s quite a few valid reasons.

Save Money

If you’re like me and you absolutely love having wild birds around in your backyard, then it’s a good idea to offer them food.

The easiest way to do this is to simply buy conventional bird food from a pet shop. But you can also save a bit of money by offering kitchen scraps to birds as food, food that would otherwise go to waste.


By offering a wide variety of different types of kitchen scraps, like the ones mentioned above, you’re also giving wild birds more nutrients.

And while kitchen scraps alone might not be sufficient for birds, as an addition to their natural food sources and traditional bird food, they are a great solution.

Especially during the colder winter months, extra food scraps from the kitchen can be incredible helpful for birds. Don’t overdo it though, and just use small amounts of leftover scraps.

Less Waste

As mentioned above, if you offer kitchen scraps as food for birds, it simply means less waste. And although we’re only talking about small amounts, every bit helps.

The best part of it is that by doing this, you’re also teaching others, for example your children, valuable lessons about food waste.

Things to Consider

Before feeding birds leftover kitchen food items, it’s important to consider a few things to avoid potential unwanted issues.

How to Feed Scraps

Depending on the type of food, there are different ways to offer kitchen scraps to birds.

The easiest way is to simply use a platform type bird feeder or a hanging cage feeder. Otherwise, if you have a birdhouse in your yard or garden, place a bit of food in there.

Make sure though to never put rotting food outside, as this will attract other animals, pests, and insects that you don’t want.

Check out my guide to bird feeders to see what’s available out there.

Offer Food Variety

I’ve already touched on this, but don’t just feed kitchen scraps to birds.

Just like us humans, birds also need a balanced diet, and as such they need traditional bird food in addition to their natural food sources.

Scraps and other food items from our kitchen are simply a bonus, they’re not meant to replace a bird’s regular diet.

Avoid Pests

As you can imagine, kitchen scraps do attract pests, so you need to be careful about just throwing food in the backyard.

Mice, rats, raccoons, nobody wants to see those animals in our homes. As such, only offer small quantities of kitchen scraps, and ideally place them where pests can’t easily access them, such as hanging feeders.


10 Kitchen scraps you can feed birds

Thomas Dunnett

The backyard is the perfect place to bond with family and friends, to have a good time, or to simply relax with some fresh air and a bit of sunshine. With this website I am hoping to share my passion for the backyard with you.

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