There’s something incredibly rewarding about giving food to wild birds.
It’s a pleasure to sit down with a cup of coffee in the morning and watch them dart about in the sunlight. Or perhaps you like to throw seeds for pigeons and ducks in the park that appears suddenly there.
We must be careful in what food we give to birds because we don’t want to hurt them. Some items, like crisps and chips are overprocessed and contain a lot of fat which can make them very sick.
However, can birds eat popcorn? Many people ask this question because it’s cheap and easy to source. However, they worry that the tasty snack could harm birds. Let’s look at popcorn now and see if it is safe for our flying friends.
Can Birds Eat Popcorn?
The Short Answer…
Luckily, birds can eat popcorn without a problem. In fact, they like and eat it quite favorably. Fortunately, cooked popcorn does more good than harm and does have fiber, antioxidants, and other nutritions. But the downside is, it is high in oil and salt which isn’t healthy and might harm them. for the main diet not even often but only once a while.
What Do Birds Eat?
Birds are not picky eaters. Birds will consume a wide variety of items including watermelon and cucumber. Some of the most popular food that people feed birds include sunflower seeds and commercially-produced fat balls. These are good choices because they provide a lot of nutrients. And adapting in the city, they also eat meat from leftovers, hunt or get hunted like hawks.
In the wild, birds will eat berries, insects, and fruit like cranberries. They’ll even peck at scraps from bins. Flying requires a lot of energy so they are constantly guzzling food.
Winter is a challenging time for small birds because food is less available. Fat is important to keep the birds warm against the harsh cold. That’s why peanut butter is often fed to them during this time.
How is Popcorn Made?
It may come as a surprise but popcorn is a fully natural product like plants – at least in the beginning.
This variety of corn is the only type that pops. Varieties include corn and pearl popcorn while there are other gourmet alternatives. These days multiple hybrids have enhanced popping sounds as well as disease resistance.
Each kernel of corn contains a water droplet and an embryo. The former is crucial to popcorn’s unique trademark. When heat is applied to the kernel, the water droplet turns to steam and pressure builds up.
Starch erupts from inside the corn, turning it into the fluffy snack that we all know and love. This process can be achieved without adding anything else, but as we know, it tastes like cardboard.
The birds recognize this too.
Can Birds Eat ‘Popped’ Popcorn?
It’s perfectly safe for birds to eat popcorn after it has popped.
They can still digest and eat it without any problems. So you can feed it to your pet bird or the wild flocks outside your window. But this comes with a caveat.
The problem is that a lot of mass-produced popcorn is made with salt, oil, butter as well as flavorings like caramel. This is where you must exercise care because these additives can be harmful to the birds.
Unfortunately, this is what most people think of when popcorn comes to mind.
Does Popcorn Have Any Nutritional Value?
Wild birds eat food for fuel, not flavor. However, this doesn’t mean they won’t gorge on tasty popcorn if you give it to them. They love popped popcorn even more than the harder kernels.
But does this popular snack have any nutritional value?
Popcorn is a source of fiber so it does offer some benefits. Unfortunately, the addition of fat and oil negates the positive aspects. So bear this in mind before you dump your leftovers on the porch after a trip to the cinema.
How to Safely Feed Popcorn to Birds
Never feed microwave popcorn to birds because this is the least healthy option. It has no nutritional value and is full of chemical additives, salt, and butter.
None of these is healthy for birds.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t feed ‘popped’ popcorn to birds. One option is to use an air popper without adding any salt, butter or oil. This will produce the same effect and the birds will love it.
Some people recommend using vegetable or coconut oil to cook popcorn on a stove because it is healthier than butter. This is true but you should only give small amounts to the birds.
Plain or unpopped popcorn is the best option if you are determined to feed them this snack.
Alternatives to Popcorn
While popcorn can be safe to feed to birds it may take more work than you expected. It’s not as simple as opening a pack of popcorn and scattering it to the winds. That’s why it may be easier to feed them other items. Let’s look at these now:
Oats, quinoa, and seeds like chia seeds are excellent sources of protein for birds. They also contain fiber which helps digestion. If you already eat porridge or oatmeal for breakfast then this is readily available for you. As well, birds may also eat rice without a problem.
Birds spend a lot of time foraging for nuts.
They’re one of the best foodstuffs because they contain a lot of nutritional value. Some nuts are rich in protein and natural fats. This helps the bird to bulk up ahead of the cold months.
They’re also great for exercising their beak and jaw muscles.
Some people will freak out when they read this because they believe that bread is bad for birds.
This is half-true. White sandwich bread is highly processed. It’s full of sugar and is unhealthy for them to consume. On the other hand, whole grain bread is perfectly safe and another source of fiber.
Other than that, birds eat a variety of seeds, plants, vegetables and fruits like cranberries, cheese and rice,
Popcorn is only safe for birds if you serve it up without everything that makes it taste good.
Usually, people want to give them regular microwave or packed popcorn but this isn’t safe for them because of all the oils and high salt content. It’s not great for humans later and we’re a lot bigger!
The only times you should give them popcorn is in its unpopped form, or without all of the additives. Realistically, this may not be convenient for people so don’t feel bad about giving them other snacks instead.
There are plenty of other foods that are safe for birds. It’s incredibly rewarding to look after them so don’t give up!