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Last updated: June 28, 2023
Not sure what to feed birds? Consider these ten kitchen scraps and other food items the birds in your backyard will appreciate.
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 of nutrition sources while also reducing landfill waste.
In this article, I will explain what types of scraps and other food items from your kitchen you can feed birds, and I will also outline the benefits 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.
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 nutritional 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, and cookies; most birds will appreciate this type of food.
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.
But don’t overdo this type of kitchen scrap, as the nutritional value is relatively 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.
There is a whole range of fruits that you can feed to wild birds in the backyard, such 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.
When you’re feeding common fruits like apples and bananas to birds, be sure to remove the skin and slice them into small pieces. And 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 fruit that has fallen off.
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.
Some nuts, like peanuts, are used as traditional raw bird food, but some other nuts that we buy for ourselves can also be offered to wild birds.
For example, walnuts, pecans, and almonds will 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 to make it easier for birds to eat. Another option is leftover peanut butter, that some birds will also like.
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 unsuitable for birds.
Lots of birds feed on insects, and in that way, they’re a good addition to any backyard as it keeps the ecosystem healthy.
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.
Cooked eggs are not only very nutritious for humans, but 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.
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 are quite a few reasons to consider.
If you’re like me and you absolutely love having wild birds hanging out in the 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 incredibly helpful for birds. But don’t overdo it; just use small amounts of leftover scraps.
As mentioned above, offering kitchen scraps as food to birds means less waste. And although we’re only talking about small amounts, every bit helps.
And by doing this, you’re also teaching others, like your children for example, 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 use a platform-type bird feeder or a hanging cage feeder. Or, if you have a birdhouse in your yard or garden, place a bit of food in there.
You need to make sure, though, never to put rotting food outside, as that 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 should be seen as a bonus and not a replacement for a bird’s regular diet.
As you can imagine, kitchen scraps attract pests, so you need to be careful about 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.