Opinion: Bird Bread and Its Place

For those that don’t know, bird bread is something popular in the avian community. It is a way to get pellets, fresh foods, etc into our birds when they decline to eat it themselves. Some feed it as a treat, others as an integral part of their feathered companion(s) diet. Birds universally seem to love bird bread so it is an effective tool for this purpose.

Bird Bread
Bird Bread

When I first brought home my Quaker in 2011, he was on an all seed diet. I worked to get him onto pellets and fresh foods for months before he actually made the switch. To help, I used bird bread as a tool. It helped him get used to the taste of pellets and veggies, so he started to eat them without the aid of the bread.

My Hahns macaw came to me a picky eater and with liver issues,  so I similarly used bird bread to get certain things like milk thistle into her that she wouldn’t eat otherwise. Eventually, she too began to eat the foods without the bread surrounding it.

Now, I rarely feed bread. I honestly don’t recall the last time I baked bread for the birds, but I bet it is approaching a year. For me, bird bread is a tool, and once the job it was designed to do has been completed, bird bread should be retired from the diet except for as an occasional treat.  As Dr. Scott Echols stated in the Facebook group, “Nutrition for Pets“:

“Simple carbohydrates are readily converted to blood sugar with the excess going straight to the liver to be stored as glycogen. Once glycogen stores are full, the additional excess (blood glucose) goes towards the production of free fatty acids, triglycerides, cholesterol and body fat. For wild animals there is a distinct advantage to excess glycogen and body fat- to provide reserves for when dietary calories are less available. However when excess glycogen and fat, cholesterol, etc is chronically made, other metabolic problems develop. This rarely is a problem for wild birds (but certainly can happen such as at public ponds) but more common with pets….In general, I just don’t recommend bird bread products.”

Certainly, breads can be made better. You can use lower glycemic flours like coconut, spelt, or buckwheat. But if you are filling the bread with oils, fruit juices, etc, you still run into the issue that bread isn’t really a food parrots need. The sad fact of the matter is, there are many people that read outdated websites that still recommend Jiffy corn bread mixes as a base, which are full of fat and lard! Others that do make them from scratch simply do not think it is necessary to switch to a healthier flour base and continue to use white flours. Again, this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, but I believe this is only acceptable if used for a short period of time, as the tool it should be, and not a cornerstone of the avian diet.

What about you? Do you feed bird bread, and if so, how does it fit into your bird(s)’ diet?

Koopa with "Bread Face"
Koopa with “Bread Face”

2 thoughts on “Opinion: Bird Bread and Its Place

  1. Amanda March 26, 2016 / 1:46 am

    Hi there, I love your website, very informative…I just adopted an idian ringneck from a family friend – he’s approximately 5 years old [have never cared for a bird before, am a complete novice]. He is on a seed only diet with occasional fruit. I would like to introduce veggies plus convert him to pellets [both pellet & seed mayybe]. Could you please advise me on how to approach this – recipes, steps on how to do, etc…

    Many thanks for your time 🙂 ~Amanda~ [from Australia]

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