About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Rice and bread aren't the favorites of songbirds

I have a friend asking, is uncooked rice bad for birds? And another friend wondering, is it okay to toss out bread for the birds? - Lansing, MI

Birds need a lot of protein and fat. Bread if full of carbohydrates but a little bit of bread occasionally is fine. Maybe smear a thin layer of natural peanut butter to make it more nutritious. Also make sure that it is not moldy, as some molds are toxic to birds.

Most breads are made of wheat which isn’t an attractive seed for a lot of backyard song birds. It might attract starlings, blackbirds, doves, or sparrows.

Rice also isn’t very attractive to backyard birds. But there are no documented cases of birds suffering from eating rice. Just make sure to clean it up if it is kicked to the ground and left for the mice or other rodents to pick up.

Studies done by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service on birds’ food preference show that the 5 most popular seeds are:
a) Black oil – Fresh oil sunflower seed is attractive to most seed eating bird species.
b) Striped – The larger shell is harder for some birds to crack but Tufted Titmice and Blue Jays prefer.
2. Peanut pieces – Are attractive to numerous species. Lots of bug or suet eating birds choose peanuts for their high protein and fat levels.
3. White Proso Millet – Is the preferred food for ground feeding birds like juncos, doves and sparrows.
4. Safflower seed – This was not included in USFWS studies but is a favorite of House Finches and is considered acceptable to most other bird species except blackbirds and starlings. (Squirrels don't seem to care for it either.)
5. Nyjer (Thistle) - Is not related to weed thistles. The high fat content and small seed shape makes it attractive to finches.


Question - is rice not food for the mice and chipmunks?
Little rodents can eat rice but most people don't try to attract them. They like them far away from the house. This is also why we don't recommended cheap supermarket bird food blends with filler seeds birds don't like.

Related Articles:
- Top 10 Frequently Asked Bird Questions http://goo.gl/k10Ihe
- Why do Birds Scatter Seeds from Feeders? http://goo.gl/GhjZMA
- Make your yard a magnet for birds http://goo.gl/8F2ioW
- What seeds do wild birds eat? http://goo.gl/JtwBUH

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