Having a pet bird can be exciting, but it also requires a large amount of knowledge of the husbandry of your pet. Providing food for wild birds can be an enriching and entertaining activity for you, but it also requires knowledge of what birds can and cannot eat to ensure you don’t feed them something that could hurt them.
One of the items that you may have on hand as a pantry staple and have wondered if you could feed to birds is oats. Are oats healthy and safe for birds?
Can Birds Eat Oats?
Yes, most birds can eat dry oats. Almost all herbivorous and omnivorous wild birds will happily eat oats that are put out for them. Some pet birds will also enjoy eating oats, but oats are not appropriate for all pet birds, so make sure that your pet bird’s species is able to safely eat oats before feeding them to your bird. If you do feed oats to any bird, as with all things, make sure you feed them in moderation and as part of a balanced diet. Provide multiple options, as opposed to offering oats every day.
There is an important distinction between uncooked and cooked oats. Uncooked oats are a safe option for most birds. However, cooked oats should not be fed to most birds, including all wild birds. This is due to the gelatinous nature of cooked oats and the potential for them to harden on or in the beak, as well as posing a choking hazard due to their texture. It’s also best to avoid feeding wet, uncooked oats, so avoid offering oats on a rainy or snowy day.
Are Oats Good for Birds?
Yes, oats are a nutritious food you can offer to birds. They are packed full of fiber, supporting digestive health and satiety. They are also a good source of protein, which is necessary for building and maintaining muscle mass, supporting satiety, and providing the necessary nutrition for healing from injuries and illnesses. Oats are a good source of magnesium and thiamine, and they are low in saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium.
How to Feed Oats to Birds
While it’s best to feed dry, uncooked oats to birds, there is another way. You can also offer oats in a suet cake, which is a good way to provide high-fat, nutrient-dense energy, especially in the winter months or during migration times.
You can make suet cakes at home with only a few ingredients, but it does take some careful measuring to ensure the consistency is correct. A suet cake that is too runny won’t stay in the feeder, but a suet cake that is too hard will be difficult, if not impossible, for birds to eat. You must also keep in mind that a goopy, soft suet cake may pose the same risks as cooked or wet oats.
Aim to create a suet cake that is firm enough to hold its shape and not fall through the feeder, but that is soft enough that it will be easy for birds to eat. Even small birds will appreciate food from a suet cake, so aim to make the texture right for everyone. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable with making a suet cake, then you can also purchase a commercially made one.
Oats are a healthy snack for many types of birds, although they may not be appropriate for all pet birds. They are packed with nutrients and are affordable and accessible. Oats should only be fed to birds raw and dry, with the exception of offering oats in a suet cake. Cooked or wet oats pose the risk of sticking in or on a bird’s beak, as well as potentially being a choking hazard, especially for small birds.
Featured Image Credit: Vladislav Noseek, Shutterstock