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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 15:46   #1
lozza_9
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Question Should I feed Birds bread?

Hi All

Sorry for a stupid question but should i feed the birds bread. I have some bread and was thinking of putting some in a food processor and making it in to bread crums and placing on the bird table or in a feeder I have going spare.

But i don't want to harm the birds - let me know.

Thanks
Lozza


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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 15:54   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lozza_9
Hi All

Sorry for a stupid question but should i feed the birds bread. I have some bread and was thinking of putting some in a food processor and making it in to bread crums and placing on the bird table or in a feeder I have going spare.

But i don't want to harm the birds - let me know.

Thanks
Lozza
Hi Lozza,

Never feed bread to ducklings because it can kill them but bread is fine for smaller birds. If you want to enhance bread a little then fry it or dip it in animal fats such as lard. The same is true for all carbohydrate sources (rice, pasta, cooked potatoes) because these are less useful to birds in their raw form. In addition, do not leave carbohydrate foods out for so long because they tend to go off quicker.

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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 17:27   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian Peters
Hi Lozza,

Never feed bread to ducklings because it can kill them but bread is fine for smaller birds. If you want to enhance bread a little then fry it or dip it in animal fats such as lard. The same is true for all carbohydrate sources (rice, pasta, cooked potatoes) because these are less useful to birds in their raw form. In addition, do not leave carbohydrate foods out for so long because they tend to go off quicker.

Ian
Ian, sorry if this is an oft-repeated question (and if it is, please PM me), but could you elaborate on why bread is bad for ducklings? I'm starting to see my duckling-feeding childhood flash before my eyes, and it's a bit scary to think something we did in innocence (and everybody still does at every city park and pond in the US) is actually lethal.

Another question, if you don't mind: I've been told that uncooked rice (or cooked rice that has again dried out) will kill adult birds if consumed in enough quantity. Is this true? If so, can cooked (and still moist) rice be consumed safely if it's coated with drippings, lard, or other oil-based edible to prevent it from drying out before the birds get to it?

Thanks muchly!
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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 17:32   #4
Elizabeth Bigg
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
Ian, sorry if this is an oft-repeated question (and if it is, please PM me), but could you elaborate on why bread is bad for ducklings? I'm starting to see my duckling-feeding childhood flash before my eyes, and it's a bit scary to think something we did in innocence (and everybody still does at every city park and pond in the US) is actually lethal.
Same here Katy - the whole family used to go down to the river to feed the ducks with our two boys when we were visiting their grandparents, and many years later we have taken our grandchildren to a local pond. I can't remember if we actually fed little ducklings too, but I think it is quite likely.
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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 17:55   #5
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It is very, very common to feed whatever birds with bread. But don't (almost) all nestlings feed naturally on meat (of worms to mammals)?

Here we annually have Branta canadensis with misformed wings, not being able to fly, so they die before winter. It has been explained to be because they are, being semitame, fed with bread.
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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 19:43   #6
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I'm sure there is sold theory behind Ian's feeding rules but we've broken them for decades and have not noticed a heap of dead birds under our feeders. Also as a child, feeding the ducks was normally with stale bread, and again, the ducks thrived. Duck belly ache wouldn't be obvious, I suppose - and it's not as if the dry bread wouldn't be accompanied with lots of liquid to wash it down!

Starchy carbohydrates break down into simpler sugars, so far as I know, and don't last for long enough to "go off" in my experience; any yeast in bread is long dead so fermentation is unlikely, too.
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Old Sunday 3rd October 2004, 23:29   #7
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I was told that (stale?) bread should be soaked in water before being given to garden birds - otherwise, they may swell up inside the bird! :s
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 02:00   #8
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As a wildlife biologist, the recommendation I always give on this question is NO - REGARDLESS of what species of bird you are feeding. Bread that is made today is generally way too rich for bird digestive systems to handle. Also, most bread manufactured today has chemical preservatives used in it (in some cases derivatives of formalin believe it or not) that may be "safe" for our systems but is not safe for small animals including birds.

Mark
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 19:46   #9
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Well... what is in "new" bread? The tiny amount of yeast is killed during baking, the alcohol from fermentation has evaporated, the vast majority of the remainder is ground wheat with a very small quantity of sugar, salt and fat.

There is no formaldehyde in any human food product, I feel pretty sure; the preservative in bread (in the UK, at least) is nothing more than ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

As for swelling up inside birds - so do seeds. But birds have a crop that stores the food until they properly swallow it, so I suspect the swelling is not a major problem if the bird drinks sufficient water. I have certainly seen captive pigeons eat nothing but dried bread to no ill effect.
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 21:32   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vinnielo
I was told that (stale?) bread should be soaked in water before being given to garden birds - otherwise, they may swell up inside the bird! :s
exactally what i heard/read somewhere.
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Old Monday 4th October 2004, 22:01   #11
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Originally Posted by scampo
There is no formaldehyde in any human food product, I feel pretty sure;...
Not directly, but there are chemicals -- aspartame, I'm told -- that turn to formaldehyde once they reach a certain temperature and are metabolized. Imagine that! Guzzle a diet soda and lose weight *and* pickle your brain all in one easy step!
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 00:05   #12
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[quote=scampo]

There is no formaldehyde in any human food product, I feel pretty sure; the preservative in bread (in the UK, at least) is nothing more than ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

I did not state formaldehyde - I stated derivatives of formalin - and there are certainly several derivatives of formalin used as preservatives in foods considered safe for human consumption.

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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 00:37   #13
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Mallards and maybe some other species of ducks can't be fed bread, contrary to popular belief. While in Sackville Waterfowl Park, there was an information sign that including this bread information. Seems that Mallards can't digest it properly. Another thing to remember is that putting out bread during "teaching" season (the time when birdish parents teach their kids how to fly, how to find food, etc.) lessens the chance of the young'uns from finding their real food. If these birds start to rely heavily on your feedings, then chances are that when you stop feeding them, they will be unable to search for their own food, and will die of starvation.
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 00:39   #14
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Also, some birds eat rocks to squash their swallowed food so it's easier to digest. At least, I think this is the case.
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 01:44   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by humminbird
As a wildlife biologist, the recommendation I always give on this question is NO - REGARDLESS of what species of bird you are feeding. Bread that is made today is generally way too rich for bird digestive systems to handle. Also, most bread manufactured today has chemical preservatives used in it (in some cases derivatives of formalin believe it or not) that may be "safe" for our systems but is not safe for small animals including birds.

Mark
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Wow! I'm glad I found this thread! I have a tendency to give our leftover bread crumbs to the birds! Never again!
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 03:58   #16
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The RSPB say this...

http://www.rspb.org.uk/birds/advice/...irds/bread.asp
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Old Tuesday 5th October 2004, 16:24   #17
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[quote=humminbird]
Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo

There is no formaldehyde in any human food product, I feel pretty sure; the preservative in bread (in the UK, at least) is nothing more than ascorbic acid (Vitamin C).

I did not state formaldehyde - I stated derivatives of formalin - and there are certainly several derivatives of formalin used as preservatives in foods considered safe for human consumption.

Mark
Bastrop, TX
I'm not sure what "derivative of formalin" really means if you weren't suggesting formaldehyde itself. As an analogy, hydrogen peroxide is derived from water...

Formaldehyde itself has quite specific toxicological effects, but it does not follow that other organic compounds produced "from" formaldehyde would exhibit similar effects or even necessarily be toxic.
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Old Wednesday 6th October 2004, 23:59   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scampo
I'm not sure what "derivative of formalin" really means if you weren't suggesting formaldehyde itself. As an analogy, hydrogen peroxide is derived from water...

Formaldehyde itself has quite specific toxicological effects, but it does not follow that other organic compounds produced "from" formaldehyde would exhibit similar effects or even necessarily be toxic.

It does not follow that other organic compounds produced from formaldehyde, nor those that will break down into formaldehyde in given conditions, will necessarily have the same effects or will necessarily be toxic, true. On the same level, the simple fact that it is approved for use in human products does not necessarily mean that it is safe for use in bird products. Aflatoxin is a great example of that - the level considered safe for human consumption will kill birds quite effectively.

I can not speak for what is used in breads outside the United States. Here, they make it quite clear that the vinegar is added as a conditioner for the dough, not as a preservative. Unfortunately, the bread I currently have in the house is a brand that makes a big deal about not adding preservatives - a shorter shelf life which we pay for but at least I am not pickling myself when I eat it. I can not even speak for current bread production - I made the stupid mistake of simply passing on what I had been told in school by my ornithology and chemistry professors. I will take the time to check some of the cheap brands of bread and report back. However, formalin or not, the ornithologist I work with has assured me that the typical bread manufactured in the US is far too rich for birds to digest effectively.

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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 05:01   #19
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Should i feed birds?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Katy Penland
Ian, sorry if this is an oft-repeated question (and if it is, please PM me), but could you elaborate on why bread is bad for ducklings? I'm starting to see my duckling-feeding childhood flash before my eyes, and it's a bit scary to think something we did in innocence (and everybody still does at every city park and pond in the US) is actually lethal.

Another question, if you don't mind: I've been told that uncooked rice (or cooked rice that has again dried out) will kill adult birds if consumed in enough quantity. Is this true? If so, can cooked (and still moist) rice be consumed safely if it's coated with drippings, lard, or other oil-based edible to prevent it from drying out before the birds get to it?

Thanks muchly!

I hope someone will settle the question of feeding ducklings bread. We've done it, and all has been well. Vik
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 07:32   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by humminbird
It does not follow that other organic compounds produced from formaldehyde, nor those that will break down into formaldehyde in given conditions, will necessarily have the same effects or will necessarily be toxic, true. On the same level, the simple fact that it is approved for use in human products does not necessarily mean that it is safe for use in bird products. Aflatoxin is a great example of that - the level considered safe for human consumption will kill birds quite effectively.

I can not speak for what is used in breads outside the United States. Here, they make it quite clear that the vinegar is added as a conditioner for the dough, not as a preservative. Unfortunately, the bread I currently have in the house is a brand that makes a big deal about not adding preservatives - a shorter shelf life which we pay for but at least I am not pickling myself when I eat it. I can not even speak for current bread production - I made the stupid mistake of simply passing on what I had been told in school by my ornithology and chemistry professors. I will take the time to check some of the cheap brands of bread and report back. However, formalin or not, the ornithologist I work with has assured me that the typical bread manufactured in the US is far too rich for birds to digest effectively.

Mark
Hi Mark, Thanks for replying. I do see "where you're coming from", as they say, and I'm just more curious than anything. It's just that bread has been the staple way millions of folk here have fed birds (and ducks) for years.

I still can't understand the term, "rich", whatever your friend means by that. "Richness" in human terms usually means loaded with fats - and birds would love that if it were true; but bread has a tiny amount of fat in it. Even modern bread is basically the same as bread always has been being very largely based on ground wheat grains - and grains are a staple diet for many species.

As for vinegar being toxic, well, what's left after baking will be present in tiny amounts; it's also a very simple naturally occurring organic acid that would, I am guessing here, be easily metabolised in the gut of birds and man.
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 17:52   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy Ledger
I note that this site states "a chick fed on a diet of bread may not develop into
a healthy fledgling"

I am sure that parent birds, well Blue Tits at least actualy vary the diet of their chicks.
I have noticed that when I put out meal worms the parents will start feeding them to their chicks immediately. However, even though the mealworm feeder is not empty they will stop and start feeding Sunflower seeds instead then after a while start hunting for insects etc in the trees and hedges close to the nestbox.

Anyone else noticed this?

If you put out bread for the birds they will probably take some back to thier chicks but not at the expense of all other food types.

If you get a cold/wet spring and there is a lack of insect life to feed to the chicks then they would have to feed them on the food that is available. If it is only bread then I think this is better than the chicks starving as they would do in the wild.

Duckling are of course a differrent matter as they feed themselves.

It may be possible that ducks and birds in towns may have built up an immunity to bread over the decades that we have been feeding them.
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 18:03   #22
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Hundreds of old ladies in San Francisco feed pigeons tons of bread a day. If bread is harmful to birds, why is the City spending millions to control the pigeons?
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 18:40   #23
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Hi - I think the RSPB's short notice has the best info. Too much bread is bad for developing ducklings - the nutritional profile of bread doesn't allow them to grow correctly formed wings. A previous message in this thread mentioned Canada Geese whose young developed misshapen wings. I've seen this myself in raising ducks and adopting other's misfed ducklings. A diet of cat food - high protein so it's not just the protein level, probably the balance of certain vitamins and/or minerals required for good bone development - can cause the same problem.

It is likely that we don't see the poorly developed ducklings that have been fed bread in city parks because they either get picked off by predators at an early age or get a varied enough diet from foraging to develop strong wings. You can't really see that the wings have developed wrong until they fledge - and they are easy pickings before that. The poorly developed wings sort of droop down - they look broken, and it can happen on only one side. Since there doesn't seem to be a low duck population problem in any of the city parks I've ever visited, kids and other people feeding ducks bread in city parks is not such a big problem - the illformed ducklings provide feed for herons, raptors, raccoons, carp & goldfish, etc. There are some parks that sell packets of pelleted food in an effort to provide better nutrition for their resident ducks.

Feeding bread to pigeons might be less of a problem because 1) they are usually fledged by the time they feed heavily on bread, 2) pigeon metabolism and nutritional needs might be different than ducklings. Barbara
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 19:02   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nobby
I note that this site states "a chick fed on a diet of bread may not develop into
a healthy fledgling"

I am sure that parent birds, well Blue Tits at least actualy vary the diet of their chicks.
I have noticed that when I put out meal worms the parents will start feeding them to their chicks immediately. However, even though the mealworm feeder is not empty they will stop and start feeding Sunflower seeds instead then after a while start hunting for insects etc in the trees and hedges close to the nestbox.

Anyone else noticed this?

...
Brett.
I think tits, like other birds, feed their young softer food (mainly larvae) when the chicks are young; only later can the chiock take hard food such as seeds. If there is a failure of larvae, there is a subsequent failure of broods. It could be that the parent will not feed the wrong food item, even if it leads to starvation.

That said, I have read that young birds have been found choked on whole peanuts - and since I read that, I crush those that are not in the mesh feeder.
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Old Thursday 7th October 2004, 19:06   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BarbaraM
Hi - I think the RSPB's short notice has the best info. Too much bread is bad for developing ducklings - the nutritional profile of bread doesn't allow them to grow correctly formed wings. A previous message in this thread mentioned Canada Geese whose young developed misshapen wings. I've seen this myself in raising ducks and adopting other's misfed ducklings. A diet of cat food - high protein so it's not just the protein level, probably the balance of certain vitamins and/or minerals required for good bone development - can cause the same problem.

... Barbara
It's good to read that, Barabara - practical experience versus theory! But, I imagine it would be unusual in nature for a bird to overeat a single food source as multiple food sources are generally available.

That said, the gold and greenfinches in my garden ought to be looking like sunflowers by now - I only attract a handful but they eat so much between them, it's unbelieveable. I keep expecting to see a portly loking goldfinch too fat to fly perched on my feeder, but no, they remain looking fit and slim!
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