Knowing what to feed birds can be an absolute minefield. Whether you are feeding a domesticated bird or providing food for wild birds outdoors choosing the right type of feeds is important. Birds in general have a wide palate and love a variety of different feeds however not all of these feeds are necessarily suitable for their health and wellbeing.
Grains, seeds, and fruits are foods often used to feed birds, but what about cereals? Are these ok for birds to eat? Can they cause harm or complications for birds?
One type of cereal that is very popular to keep at home is porridge oats and we were asked recently whether there would be suitable for birds to eat so we decided to delve a little deeper.
So, can birds eat porridge oats? Yes, it is perfectly ok to feed porridge oats to birds. Rice and cereals can be very beneficial for birds and there are no risks involved in providing them with this type of feed. However, portion control is generally recommended particularly with commercial breakfast cereals.
There are many types of oats widely available to buy in supermarkets and stores and one of the most common are porridge oats. They are reasonably cheap to buy and can be a great addition to a bird’s diet.
Porridge oats should always be fed to birds in moderation and ideally mixed with other ingredients such as grains, seeds, and some fruits. This is an ideal mixture of ingredients for birds and makes their meal just that bit more interesting than porridge oats alone.
Why are porridge oats good for birds to eat?
Porridge oats and other types of plain cereals are very good for birds. They are generally high in fiber, with lots of vitamins and minerals included. Porridge oats in particular are considered one of the healthiest grains on earth and birds seem to absolutely love this type of grain.
It is always best to double-check the contents of cereals designed for human consumption.
They may look like plain porridge oats to you, but you will often find they have been enhanced with artificial flavoring and preservatives to cater to the human palate. This will often mean the sugar content is much higher and therefore would not be suitable for birds to consume.
Porridge oats can also be particularly good for wild birds during the winter months when they are trying desperately to keep themselves warm and topped up with much-needed energy. Oats are considered at the higher end of the scale when it comes to fat content and keeps birds full up for much longer.
How much and how often can I feed porridge oats to birds?
Porridge oats are fine for birds to consume however caution must be taken in regards to the amount of this cereal that is offered to birds. You will not usually find that porridge oats are fed to birds as a stand-alone meal and therefore are usually consumed as part of a mix.
If you plan to feed birds a handful of food as a complete mixture then a handful of oats would be far too much. Try to portion out all the ingredients so the combined mixture totals a handful of feed.
As an example, if you were looking to feed your bird grains, seeds, fruits, and porridge oats you would probably want to portion out each at a quarter of a handful (25%) per ingredient.
This would ensure your birds are getting a good all-round mix of nutrients and not overdoing the amounts of porridge oats consumed. Birds tend to really like the variety when it comes to feeds and so there is no harm in mixing up most ingredients that are designed for birds.
Porridge oats are safe to feed to birds daily providing you are giving them the right quantity as mentioned above. It is recommended that porridge oats are provided in a mixture with other ingredients for ultimate portion control.
As long as you are monitoring your bird’s intake of oats carefully this is ideal for birds to eat daily.
Can birds eat uncooked porridge oats?
Yes, birds can eat uncooked porridge oats and this is the only way they should really be fed to birds. It is true to say that birds love the taste of this cereal and you will notice porridge oats get demolished pretty quickly by hungry birds.
The downside to porridge oats is that they are very dry to eat. Although this is not likely to discourage birds, they can become very dehydrated when eating these.
Always make sure when feeding any type of cereals to your birds that you ensure there is a constant supply of water available nearby for them to drink from. This will stop them from becoming dehydrated and will allow them to enjoy their meal more.
Can birds eat cooked porridge oats?
Although uncooked porridge oats are fine to feed to birds you must not under any circumstances consider feeding them porridge oats that have been cooked. There are a couple of reasons for this:
- Porridge oats can turn glutinous once cooked meaning the oats can turn sticky with a texture like glue.
- It is also possible that cooked oats will solidify after a short period. This can pose a massive problem to birds since there is the likelihood the mixture could solidify around their beaks. This can be particularly dangerous for wild birds as no-one is likely to notice their beaks are sealed. They will not be able to eat and will eventually die of starvation.
It may seem like the most obvious thing to do to cook porridge oats and in a human capacity it absolutely is, but always ensure you feed this to birds in the rawest form possible and refrain from cooking oats that will be offered to birds.
How can you feed porridge oats to birds?
Porridge oats are usually best fed raw in a mixture that contains a variety of grains, seeds, and some fruit. This is an ideal formula if you are creating the bird food yourself from scratch and some bird owners like to water down the oats a little which can help keep birds hydrated since oats tend to be very dry.
There are also enormous amounts of ready-made commercial sold bird mixes that you will often find contains porridge oats as one of the ingredients.
Lots of bird mixes sold in pet shops and online stores contain added preservatives and artificial colorings to make them more appealing.
This is completely unnecessary and you may want to double-check the full ingredients list before deciding to purchase this type of feed. This is why many bird owners and bird lovers choose to make up their own birdseed so they know exactly what is in it.
For domesticated indoor birds, a feeder designed specifically for birds is highly recommended where the porridge oats, seeds, and grains can stay reasonably self-contained whilst still providing sufficient access for hungry birds.
Putting bird feed into a loose bowl is likely to make quite a bit of mess and requires much more cleaning on your part. This is not ideal.
For outdoor birds visiting your garden, it is always a wise idea to invest in a suitable bird feed holder or tray. There are some designs on the market that fully protect the food placed in them and help to keep the feed fresh and free from rainwater.
Although porridge oats are fine to be dampened down with a bit of water, your birds are not likely to be too interested if the food is swimming in a sea of rainwater.
What other feeds can birds eat?
We mostly associate birds with eating seeds, grains, and cereals, however there are many more feeds that are suitable for them that you could offer.
Seeds and grains should be the main part of their meal with some added extras such as fruit and vegetables to add a bit of variety.
Insects can also make a great meal for birds and can be fed as main meals. Other items such as peanuts, cooked rice and pasta, cheese, bread, and sweet products are great supplements for birds but should always be fed in moderation.
Some foods that are suitable to be fed to birds are as follows:
|Seeds and Grains
|Fruit and Vegetables
|Other (in smaller doses)
|Oats (such as Porridge Oats)
|Bacon Rinds (uncooked and Unsalted
|Corn on the cob
|Beef Fat Trimmings
|Cone Flower Seeds
|Cakes and Biscuits
|Wild Flower Seeds