Is bread good for birds

Can you feed birds with bread? Experts advise

Whether for the birds in the garden or the ducks in the park, bread is often used as bird food. But should you even feed birds bread? The answers to these and other questions are provided by our expert interview with Mario Fickel from the NABU Regional Group Zwickau und Umgebung e.V.


Can you feed birds bread and why?

No, birds should not be fed bread. In large quantities it is extremely unhealthy for the animals. The bread swells in the stomach so that the bird can no longer absorb any more fluids. In addition, the salt it contains removes water from the animal. If you put bread in front of the birds in the bird feeder or something similar, there is a risk that it will start to get moldy there and thus harm the animal more.

Where does the misbelief come from?

We have no justification for how this misconception came about. The ulterior motive is certainly to want to do something good for birds. The experience that the animals often come very close to you while you are feeding bread confirms your belief. It should be noted that ducks, for example, are omnivores. So they eat almost anything that is held in front of their beak. Of course, you cannot tell whether it is good or harmful for you.

What are suitable alternatives?

You are on the safe side with appropriate birdseed from specialist retailers. This contains, among other things, sunflower seeds, hemp, millet and other seeds. Homemade tit dumplings made from animal fat and the feed mixes are also well suited. For soft-eaters such as robins, blackbirds or swallows, feed mixtures that contain dried insects such as mealworms or caterpillars are also suitable.

When should you support birds with additional food?

In principle, it is not harmful if you provide the birds with additional food all year round. Especially since the disappearance of green spaces and the disappearance of forests also reduce the insect population. With permanent feeding, however, you have to make sure that you clean the feeding places regularly in order to keep the risk of infection for the animals low. In severe winters with permanent freezing temperatures and a thick, closed blanket of snow, it is all the more important that you provide the birds with accessible food.

What about the bird population and their health in 2020?

In the last 25-30 years the population of many bird species has continued to decline. The well-known, native birds such as blackbirds, robins or titmice are also increasingly rare these days. Unfortunately there are several reasons. Due to the increasing industrial agriculture and its use of pesticides, the birds find far fewer insects in the fields. There are also far too few nesting opportunities at the house and in the gardens of the population. Migratory birds are often hunted down in the south and used as food. There are still too few protective measures for this. In this country, the birds often fall victim to modern glass fronts and one of the many free-roaming cats.

What can each individual do to protect native birds?

The easiest way is if you show a certain "courage to mess up". Create a natural corner in your garden. Let the foliage lie, the grass grow a little taller, and don't always trim the shrub accurately into shape right away. In this way you create a habitat in which insects can settle and the birds find a source of food and ideal nesting opportunities.

What role does NABU play in bird protection?

The NABU is an association and not an authority that can investigate complaints and enforce resolutions. The Environment Agency is responsible for this. NABU e.V. is committed to nature conservation and awareness-raising with a wide range of activities and events. During the “Winter Birds Hour”, for example, the current bird population is recorded and the participants are given important information about the bird species. NABU also buys areas that are then converted to ecological use and thus offer birds, insects and other animals an undisturbed habitat.

Our expert

Mario Fickel is the treasurer of the NABU Regional Group Zwickau und Umgebung e.V. There he and his fellow campaigners campaign for nature conservation in the West Saxony region. He has dedicated himself in particular to bird protection.

frequently asked Questions

Is bread suitable as bird food?

No, bread is absolutely unsuitable as bird food. It makes it difficult for the animals to absorb fluids and at the same time draws them water, which can ultimately lead to death.

What (better) alternatives are there?

Sunflower seeds, hemp, millet, for example. The specialist trade offers a wide range there. In connection with animal fat, you are always on the safe side with these homemade tit dumplings. Feed mixes with insects, on the other hand, are recommended for soft eaters.

What should be considered when feeding birds continuously?

Due to the risk of infection, it is important to clean the feeding station regularly. In addition, it is advisable to regularly check whether the feed is accessible to the animals (e.g. in winter).