While there is a lot of human food that is certainly unsafe to feed your pets, sometimes we share the same taste. Most birds, both in the wild or in captivity, tend to gravitate towards human populations for an abundance of food. But sometimes it’s hard to discern which foods are healthy for your pet and which one may result in a vet trip.
So, can birds eat potatoes? Eating potatoes is actually a good thing for avian life. So, not only can your bird eat potatoes, but you should know that potatoes provide birds with fiber, carbohydrates, and healthy fats. However, they should always be cooked, served cool, and given in small portions.
The safest way to serve potatoes to your bird is by boiling them and serving them sliced, diced, or mashed. Don’t serve your bird fried or raw potatoes, as these can have negative effects on their health.
Let’s take a deeper look into how potatoes can be nutritious for birds and learn how much your feathered friends should be allowed to eat.
Is It Safe For Birds To Eat Potatoes?
Yes, it is perfectly safe for birds to eat potatoes. Potatoes are loaded with proteins and carbohydrates. And carbs provide energy to animals, including birds. If you’ve got a whole lot of kitchen scrap leftovers, then don’t think about throwing them away.
Potatoes are a staple that has served the working class well for centuries. They also happen to be one of the most inexpensive vegetables available on the market. So, if you are keen on humanitarian work and don’t want to see perfectly good food go to waste, you can serve the leftover potatoes to the birds that visit your backyard. Just boil them first!
What Are The Benefits Of Feeding Potatoes To Birds?
Potatoes are root vegetables that are packed with nutrients and minerals. Potatoes are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, carbohydrates, fats, and fiber (in the skin). Now, you might wonder what health benefits potatoes would present to birds. Below are some of the best benefits potatoes have to offer.
Birds need nutrients just as much as humans do. In fact, their need for extra energy doubles as winter approaches. So, serving potatoes to birds in the cold weather means you are helping your winged friends cope better with the harsh turn of the weather.
Potatoes contain complex carbohydrates. These kinds of carbs take a longer digestion time. And that helps your birdies out a great deal. In winter, birds need more energy, and the slow digestion of complex carbohydrates means that their blood sugar remain low. The birds will get consistent but constant energy delivery while the body is digesting the carbs.
The energy that carbs provide is needed for the proper function of their entire body – be it the efficiency of the nervous system, the performance of the organs, muscle development, etc.
Birds have an inherent need for fiber to maintain a healthy digestive system. Birds in the wild often consume food sources with plenty of fiber.
When food is scarce, birds will stick to seeds only. But, when food is abundant, birds eat grasses, seeds, sprouts, fruits, and even vegetables to meet their need for fiber. Moreover, birds will even happily gorge on insects for protein.
The digestive system of a bird is essential for converting food into nutrients. It is the nutrients that the digestive system extracts and uses to perform several functions such as maintenance, growth, and egg production. Birds that suffer from digestive problems will face even more severe problems in the long run, particularly when the issue isn’t addressed.
Many birds, like certain mammals, fatten up right before winter. That’s because birds need to migrate, so they choose to sift their diet to more fatty foods. In winter, you will find that birds consume more seeds, particularly ones that provide more fat.
The extra fat helps these birds put on more weight, and the weight allows birds to keep warm in winter. For those birds that migrate, the weight from the excess fat provides birds with the energy they need for migration, acting more like fuel.
Ornithologists have discovered through research and studies that fat also helps give female birds the reproductive boost they need when they get to breeding grounds.
As mentioned earlier, potatoes are a root vegetable loaded with Nature’s Goodness. So, not only do birds get a boost of carbs, fat, and fiber, potatoes are a goldmine of other minerals and vitamins too.
Potatoes contain the following nutrients:
- Niacin – Also known as vitamin B3, is an essential nutrient for birds. You know that carbs, fats, and fiber are necessary for birds. But, niacin is the key element required that converts carbs, fat, and fiber into energy in a bird’s body.
- Potassium – Another vital nutrient for birds is potassium. Potassium aids in normalizing the functioning of all cells. It assists in reducing blood pressure, prevents water retention, ensures normal muscle and nerve function, synthesizes protein, and metabolizes carbohydrates.
- Vitamin B6 – Pyridoxine is the scientific term for vitamin B6. It helps keep nerves and skin healthy, fights infections, controls blood sugar levels regularly, and produces red blood cells. Vitamin B6 also assists in brain development and improves immunity.
- Vitamin C – Most birds do not directly need vitamin C as it can be produced from the glucose in their liver. However, if a bird has fallen ill, it will be crucial for the bird to get vitamin C from their dietary source.
- Manganese – Manganese is a naturally occurring element that is fundamental for the growth of birds. The ideal level of manganese will support birds with cartilage and bone development, reproduction, eggshell formation, wound healing, and nutrient absorption.
- Magnesium – This chemical is critical for maintaining calcium cycles and safeguarding brain, nerve, digestive and reproductive health.
- Phosphorus – Phosphorus plays an enormous role in cellular metabolism in birds. If the ratio of calcium to phosphorus is wrong, birds can suffer from severe health issues.
How Can You Serve Potatoes To Birds?
Perhaps the best method of preparing potatoes for birds is to boil them without seasoning, particularly sodium. You could even mash up the boiled potatoes. Or, go with mashed potatoes.
Birds seem to enjoy baked as well as steamed potatoes. You should never offer birds anything oily, greasy, or full of seasoning, condiments, or spices. Many bird owners and avian lovers recommend adding seeds to the mix of boiled potatoes. Many birds seem to enjoy this treat and all its advantages.
Can Birds Eat Sweet Potatoes?
Well, sweet potato is also a nutrient-rich root vegetable. However, the one thing that makes sweet potato a natural favorite for birds is that this vegetable has the sweetness that potatoes lack.
Sweet potatoes do not contain any toxins and are perfectly healthy for birds. But, it is necessary to keep in mind that you should never prepare sweet potatoes with any salt. And it works best to boil or steam sweet potatoes to make them as wholesome for your feathered friends as possible.
Can Birds Eat Raw Potatoes?
Yes, feeding potatoes to birds can be highly beneficial. But if you’re thinking about offering birds raw potatoes, then you should reconsider. Potatoes in their natural state contain an enzyme called protease.
Protease is an enzyme that prevents and blocks other enzymes from breaking down the food that birds eat into energy. This enzyme makes food harder to digest for birds. Moreover, because of protease, birds get fewer nutrients from the food they eat.
Also, potatoes contain a lot of starch, but when you cook potatoes, you can get rid of a lot of it. However, if you offer potatoes to birds in their uncooked form, the starch remains in the bird’s small intestine for much longer. There is a higher chance of fermentation occurring in the crop or small intestine in such circumstances.
Fermentation in a bird’s body can be fatal for the bird. Most avian vets advise never to feed wild or domestic birds raw potatoes.
Birds of all colors are truly sights to behold in your backyard. You may want to encourage more visits by offering snacks to the winged visitors. But, you need to know that the food you give to birds, either wild or domestic, should in no way be toxic or harmful for the birds.
Potatoes are healthy for birds. It’s an inexpensive vegetable that is available all across the globe. But, you should make sure that you boil or bake the potato before you present some to the birds. Raw potatoes are unsafe for birds because they contain an enzyme that can be fatal for them.
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