What Can You Feed Birds From Your Kitchen – 14 Best Foods

So you’re curious as to what can you feed birds from your kitchen?

I think you’ll agree with me when I say that offering food in your backyard is a great way to attract wild birds to watch.

Yet, feeding birds commercial seeds and grains can be quite expensive. Especially as you attract more and more birds that demolish your food offerings quickly.

The trick is to mix up your regular bird food offering with some food from your own kitchen.

And I’m not stopping there…

7 Benefits of feeding birds’ kitchen scraps

Food waste is a huge problem in the USA.

The solution is simple…

You can do your part to reduce your personal food waste in your home.

Using food scraps to feed your backyard birds is a great way to reduce food waste.

The benefits of this include:

  • Saving money
  • Saving water
  • Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
  • Reduces waste in dumpsters and landfills
  • Lowers your carbon footprint
  • Reduces energy waste from buying commercial feeds
  • Birds enjoy a varied diet

Can I feed Birds anything from the kitchen?

Here’s something we can both agree.

Feeding your backyard birds is a pretty fun and easy way to tackle a global problem like food waste.

But there’s a catch:

Not all kitchen scraps are good for birds.

Now I know you don’t want to be feeding your birds food that is bad for them. So you can also check out my guide on what not to feed wild birds.

For now, you want to feed your backyard birds scraps that are healthy for them and taste good.

Let’s take a look at the 14 best foods you feed birds from your kitchen.

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What Can You Feed Birds From Your Kitchen

What Can You Feed Birds From Your Kitchen?

1. Cheese

Wild birds love cheese. It’s full of fat, protein, and calcium which make it very nutritional for birds.

You’re best options are plain, mild, hard cheeses like American or cheddar.

Grate cheese into small pieces to make it easy to serve up to birds in your feeders.

Soft or cream cheese isn’t suitable to feed wild birds.

You also need to avoid serving bird’s moldy cheese or cheese that has gone off. These can contain bacteria that can be harmful to wild birds.

2. Fat Trimmings

I’m sure you’ve seen suet balls as treats for your backyard birds.

But did you know that fat trimmings from meat are just as good for them?

Beef fat trimmings are ideal to put out for your birds. Trimmings are high in saturated fat. This gives birds lots of energy, especially in the wintertime.

Use uncooked beef fat trimmings with no raw meat attached. Cooked beef trimmings can contain cooking juices with added seasoning such as salt, which is bad for birds.

Offer only small amounts of beef trimming at your feeders every so often. This is one food that may attract other animals or more aggressive birds to your feeders.

3. Fruit

Birds love the offer of fruit at feeders.

Fruit gives birds nutrients and is full of natural sugars to give them a much-needed energy boost.

You can offer all types of fruit to birds including:

  • Fresh
  • Dried
  • Frozen
  • Canned (not in syrup)

Fresh apples, pears, bananas, strawberries, melons, grapes, and citrus fruits are usually a hit. But be careful to remove any seeds as some fruit seeds can be toxic to birds.

Dried fruit such as raisins, apricots, currants, and cranberries are good options.

Use frozen fruit as long as it’s thawed before offering it in your feeders.

Be careful with canned fruit as the fruit juices in the can are usually high in sugar, which is not good for bird health.

4. Potatoes

Potatoes are an excellent source of carbs for birds’ to get energy from.

The great thing about feeding birds potatoes is that you can offer them up in a variety of ways.

However, don’t feed your birds raw potatoes.

When potatoes are raw they contain protease. This is an enzyme that makes it hard for birds to break down nutrients in their food.

Plain baked, boiled, or mashed potatoes are often a hit in backyards.

Sweet potatoes and yams are another great options to offer up in your feeders. These types of potatoes are a great source of calcium for birds.

5. Vegetables

Vegetables are another great food to offer to wild birds.

Birds don’t naturally eat vegetables as they often can’t digest them when they are raw.

But, offering cooked vegetables is a real treat for your backyard birds.

Peas and corn are a particular favorite are they are bitesize teats for most birds.

Other cooked vegetables to offer your backyard bird are:

  • carrots
  • brussel sprouts
  • parsnips
  • broccoli
  • zuccuini
  • squash
  • beets

6. Pastry

Pastry is a great food to offer your backyard birds.

You can give it to them both cooked and uncooked. It’s a great way to use up any pie-making scraps rather than throwing them in the trash.

Pastry is a great option for bird’s especially if you make it with real saturated fats.

7. Jelly

Jelly and preservatives, jams, and fruit spreads are ideal for your birdfeeders.

Regular store jelly is fine to use but try to use a brand which is no added sugars and is low on additives.

But beware: don’t use no sugar or diabetic jelly brands.

Why not? Well, this type of jelly contains sweeteners that are harmful to birds.

Now i know you’re wondering about flavor. If you want to be popular with your birds opt for the grape jelly.

As well as grape jelly, berry flavors are sure to be a hit. Try mixing up your feeders with blackberry, raspberry, and strawberry Jelly. Or why not try a citrusy marmalade.

The secret is to use a feeder with a shallow dish will make it easier for you to offer jelly to your backyard birds.

8. Peanuts

Peanuts are a great food to offer your backyard birds. They are full of protein, fats, and nutrients which will keep the birds healthy.

The best peanuts to use for birds are roasted, non-salted, and no sugar variety.

You may be wondering if it’s best to offer them shelled or unshelled. That depends on the type of bird you want to attract.

Smaller birds won’t be able to open a peanut shell, yet blue Jays and woodpeckers love the challenge of a shell.

Be warned that squirrels also go crazy for shelled peanuts.

Peanut butter can also be offered to birds. It’s recommended you only use in it colder winter temperatures. 

Melted peanut butter can soil bird feathers. The trouble with that is it puts birds at risk of disease and destroys their waterproof and insulating properties.

9. Eggs and Eggshells

Eggs a superfood to offer to birds at your feeder.

Offer up eggs as hard-boiled and mashed up. This gives birds a great protein boost.

Another way to offer eggs is baking and crushing up the eggshells.

Eggshells are an excellent source of calcium for birds. This is an important nutrient for nesting birds who are eating a lot more protein which can block calcium absorption.

If your already offering mealworms at your feeders, add crushed eggshells in with them. This balances out the protein overload and keeps your birds healthy.

10. Pasta

Pasta is a great source of carbohydrates for birds.

Offer up cooked, and plain without any sauce or seasoning on them.

Birds don’t have a preference for the type of pasta you use. Use whatever you have on hand whether that’s macaroni, tagliatelle, penne.

So what’s the problem?

Be mindful of the size of birds that come to your garden. Make sure you cut up the pasta into small pieces to make it easier for the birds to enjoy.

11. Rice

Rice is a safe food for birds to eat.

But Wait! Doesn’t uncooked rice make birds expand and explode?

No, no, no! It’s not true and a complete urban legend.

Rice is nutritious for birds and a good source of energy and protein.

You can offer white rice, brown rice, or wild rice to your backyard birds. Both cooked and uncooked rice is ok for birds to eat, without exploding!

12. Coconut

Coconut is an excellent nutrient-rich food to offer your backyard birds.

The great thing about coconut is that it’s high in saturated fats which is great for bird health.

The best way to feed birds coconut is by offering a fresh, cracked half with the milk rinsed out. Done!

But be careful not to leave it out for too long in warmer weather as it can go rancid.

Also, never offer desiccated coconut flakes in your bird feeders. These can cause birds to overfeed, resulting in digestive issues or a false sense of fullness which can cause health issues.

13. Cereals

Birds love a cereal snack in their feeders.

The best cereals to use are plain, non-sugary cereals such as raisin bran, uncooked oats, cheerios, corn flakes, and mini-wheat.

Avoid any cereal high in sugars or artificial color and flavors such as fruit pebbles or lucky charms.

Also, do go given your bird half-eaten leftover cereal. serve it dry

Why do I say this?

Birds are lactose intolerant and feeding them milk will give them upset stomachs.

14. Popcorn

Popcorn is a great treat you can offer to birds in your garden. It’s high in fiber and carbs for energy.

Popcorn is a much healthier alternative to offering chips or cookies which are high in salt and sugar.

You want to offer fresh air-popped popcorn without any seasoning or sugary toppings.

Let me just stop you before you reach for the microwave popcorn. Avoid using feeding these to birds as they are often covered in fat, salt or sugar.

Another great way to offer popcorn is un-popped kernels in your feeders.

You just need to boil the kernels in plain water for 10 minutes will help to soften the hulls to make it easier for small birds to eat.

5 Golden Rules for Feeding Birds From Your Kitchen

Now you know feeding wild birds from your kitchen is pretty simple.

But Feeding birds kitchen scraps can have a few drawbacks. There are a few things you need to consider.

If you follow these golden rules you will prevent most of these from happening in your backyard.

So let’s get to it.

1. Offer it plain

You need to offer any kitchen scraps as plain as possible.

That means no added salt, sugar, or seasonings on your treats.

Why is this important?

Salt is particularly bad for birds and affects their nervous systems. Simple seasoning like garlic and onions is toxic to a lot of birds.

Always play it safe and keep it plain.

2. Make it a treat

Kitchen scraps are a great occasional treat for your backyard birds. But too much can cause them to become nutrient deficient.

A poor diet can make your backyard birds unhealthy and more prone to disease.

Therefore, offering your birds occasional kitchen food is the best way for them to get a healthy varied diet.

3. Don’t offer too much

Serving up too many kitchen scraps is a sure-fire way to attract pests to your yard.

Rodents such as mice, rats, and raccoons are the main culprits.

In fact, these animals are dangerous around you bird feeders. The biggest risk is they carry diseases that can easily infect your backyard birds.

4. Don’t serve spoils

Never offer your bird’s rancid or rotting food just to get rid of it.

Don’t even try it once.

First, it’s likely the birds will not eat this food.

But second, and much more important, is that you run the risk of making the birds ill by exposing them to bacterial growth.

Don’t be that person. If you wouldn’t eat it yourself, don’t offer it to the birds.

5. Keep it Clean

Kitchen scraps left out in the open are likely to spoil quickly.

You don’t want to be leaving leftover in your feeders to go moldy and rancid.

Bacteria and mold thrive on spoiled food. These expose your birds to avian disease which can kill them.

The last golden rule is to clean and wash your feeders regularly. You may need to do this daily if you’ve offered up a food which spoils quickly.

The main point is to keep your backyard bird healthy and don’t put their health at risk.

Final thoughts

Let’s sum up the answer to your question ‘What Can You Feed Birds From Your Kitchen’.

You now know that there are many benefits to feeding your backyard birds scraps from the kitchen.

Some of the most nutritious kitchen food to feed wild birds are eggs, peanuts, fruit, and vegetable. Some other foods such as pastry, pasta, and cereals are a great way to treat your birds occasionally.

In addition, follow the 5 golden rules to feeding your bird’s kitchen scraps. This will keep your backyard birds safe, healthy, and eating well.

Before you go, let us know what wild birds you attract with some of these foods on the list in the comments below.

9 thoughts on “What Can You Feed Birds From Your Kitchen – 14 Best Foods”

  1. I did feed some bread when I got low on seeds and it was cold. But I did put peanut butter on it so maybe it’ll be ok for a bit until I stock up on seeds. I buy 50# at a time from local feed/farm store. Mainly sunflower seds and white millet. I also use suet cakes. Thanks for the information.

  2. I have bluejays, morning doves, mockingbirds blackbirds in our garden. I set out wild bird seed, peanuts, berries out side. Your guide helps me a lot. When is the best time to set these out. Not too early as I like to sleep in. Any other thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you so much.

    • Hi Barry,
      The best time for birds to eat is at dawn. However since you’d prefer to sleep, you can fill your feeders at night so they’re ready for morning. However, I don’t recommend this with open ground feeders as you may attract pests like raccoons or rodents. If you have this problem then try to get your seed out around midday so the birds can fuel up later in the evening to keep them full overnight.

      • ….I found that putting food out at night still attracts raccoons, possum, etc. I usually am up by 7 and get the Feathered Friends fed , and after it warms up a bit I put fresh water in the birdbath. I found that I can fill the Oriole feeder, with jelly at night, but not the other feeders.

  3. Thank you soooo much fir this extremely important information! I have 10 different feeders out in safe places, spend most of my entertainment cash on my birds and they mean everything to me! In the front of my house i even feed black crows i have saved as they are so intelligent and fascinating and keep hawks away! Orioles and hummingbirds are constant and during fall migration have constant flow if 45 hummers daily with 5 well stocked clean feeders a spectacle to see! I will inform all my neighbors of your excellent website! Thank you. Carol Huggins East Peoria illinois

  4. Boy! Did I learn a lot! No more feeding crackers to birds at my house!! I do like to make my own peanut butter balls. I use P. B . Powdered peanut butter, water,Cheerios, cornflakes, and cranberries. I wizz all the dry food in my chopper first. They LOVE ‘EM!

  5. Found your info very interesting for what NOT to feed wild birds & what is GOOD to feed them. However, there was never any mention of the seeds from sweet green peppers. Do wild birds enjoy them & are they good for them to eat? Thanks in advance….

    • Hi Terry,
      Bell pepper seeds are ok for birds to eat. However, they are from the capsicum family and may be avoided by some bird species. These tend to attract large birds such as pigeons, crows, or grackles.


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