Nectar, bird seed, suet aren’t the only food options available that you can use to feed wild birds. In fact, there are several different types of food scraps that birds can eat. If you’re on a tight budget, common kitchen scraps can become part of your backyard birds diet easily and without harm.
Even if you have the best squirrel proof bird feeders and keep them stocked full of food, if you’re on a tight budget then cleaning out the fridge and feeding healthy scraps from the kitchen can be a great way to save some cash while still enjoying visits from your favorite species.
By using bird scraps for bird food, you’ll provide your backyard birds with a greater variety of food and less food will be wasted. This type of variety will help encourage your birds to come back for repeat visits.
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Many birders are concerned about using food scraps in a wild bird’s diet because they’re worried that kitchen scraps may not be the best nutritional food source. Of course, a diet that consists entirely of scraps is not suitable for wildlife, but the occasional plate of scraps can easily be incorporated into a bird’s diet without any harmful effects and can make your yard bird-friendly.
During the winter months when alternative food is scarce, kitchen scraps can provide birds with a greater variety of carbs, fats, and proteins that aren’t always in abundance in most types of birdseed mixes.
Small portions of scraps can also be a great option during the nesting and migration seasons when a bird will require a stronger source of energy and more food in order to stay healthy.
In order to offer your birds healthier and more appetizing scraps, try to augment your usual birdseed with regular kitchen scraps in small quantities. Avoid using scraps as a substitute for regular birdseed on an ongoing basis.
Depending on the types of scraps that are available you can even attract cardinals to your backyard or other types of unique bird species blue jays, robins, and other birds who will enjoy the buffet.
There are many different types of scraps to choose from that a bird can find appealing such as:
Baked Goods, crackers, cookies, cakes, doughnuts, bread crust, and dry stale bread, are all great choices for backyard birds. Make sure that you carefully break the food up into small pieces, soaking the stale baked goods in water to soften them before you offer them to birds. You can also use any type of uncooked pastry dough. Make sure you choose less processed baked goods and more whole grains when possible.
Hard, stale bits of cheese is another snack that birds are sure to love. Try choosing milder flavored cheese such as American, which is more suitable. However, soft cheeses such as cream cheese are not. Avoid offering rancid or moldy cheese which may cause digestive upset.
Pasta and Rice
Leftover plain cooked rice or pasta is another great source of carbs for birds. These scraps should be chopped and softened in a size that’s manageable for smaller birds to carry. Make sure that you avoid offering any type of pasta with thick cheese, strong spices, or a heavy sauce.
A bird will eat a lot of plant material and seeds, which is why scrap veggies can be a welcome treat. Frozen corn or peas, leftover sweet potatoes, canned veggies, and even some types of canned soups can be offered to birds.
Insects can be a popular protein source for birds. Offering pieces of scrap meat such as beef fat trimmings, beef grease drippings, bacon rinds, bone marrow, or meat bones can be a big help and can supplement a bird’s diet if they’re low on protein. Just like with cheese, do not offer any type of rotten or rancid meat.
Both wet and dry food for dogs and cats can be a healthy choice for birds. If you’re offering dry food it should be crushed or moistened before left out.
Most backyard birds will find bruised fruit attractive. The fruit can be chopped up and added to your bird feeders or you can simply leave it on the trees if you have fruit trees in the backyard. Other fruits such as grapefruits, oranges, bananas, grapes, raisins, old berries, and the seeds of cantaloupes, pumpkins, honeydew melon, and watermelons can also be offered to birds.
Leftover or stale oats and cereal, including quick oats or rolled oats can be a tasty treat for any backyard bird. For the best nutrition, offer birds cereal that has a lower sugar content and no artificial dyes.
Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds can be very tempting treats for birds. If you decide to offer nuts make sure that they are finely crushed and easy for the birds to hold. You can also use coconut halves as small feeders and they’ll double as tasty treats themselves. Avoid offering birds any type of nut that has an artificial or candy coating.
Another popular feeder food is cooked eggs. Cooked eggs can offer a variety of essential nutrients for birds. Additionally, crushed eggshells can also be an important source of calcium for any nesting birds.
The simplest way to feed scraps from the kitchen to your backyard birds is by sprinkling the scraps on a type of platform feeder. Keep in mind that if the food scraps you have are oily they can leave behind a stain. For this type of food consider using a hanging cage feeder. You can also cut up the scraps and mix them into a suet recipe which birds will be sure to love. While feeding the scraps on the ground can be a simple and quick idea it can also attract other pests.
What to Keep in Mind
Feeding wildlife kitchen scraps can be a more cost-effective way to feed your backyard Wildlife, but there can be some problems that you’ll encounter.
As I mentioned earlier, feeding kitchen scraps to your backyard birds can also attract pests such as raccoons, rats, and mice. In order to reduce the chances of attracting these pests, make sure that you offer the scraps in small quantities. Another solution is to use a hanging cage feeder which will be less accessible to these pests
Scraps tend to spoil quickly. The backyard bird’s taste is less refined than humans so any food that is spoiled will not be consumed. This is especially true in the late fall and summer months when natural food sources are abundant. During these months you can save the scraps to feed your winter birds by freezing them and offering them to wildlife when natural resources are scarce.
If a bird consumed nothing but kitchen scraps, they would end up with health issues caused by not getting sufficient nutrition. A poor diet can lead to other health problems such as feather deformation and obesity. In order to reduce this risk only offer scraps on rare occasions and in small quantities.
This list of food scraps for birds can help to supplement their diet during the winter months when natural food sources are hard to come by. While kitchen scraps may not seem like the most nutritious option for your backyard birds they can make a great occasional treat and a cost-effective way to supplement their diet while saving money on birdseed costs. From eggshells, stale bread, and pasta to cheese and melons, minimizing waste in your kitchen and maximizing food sources for wildlife by offering them a wide variety of food from the kitchen can be beneficial to everyone.