Can I feed cheese to birds?
In short: yes. Birds can indeed eat certain types of cheeses, and if served in the correct form (relishes and crackers are not necessary here) they will really enjoy it!
As a rule, a huge number of kitchen leftovers are entirely suitable as the occasional substitute or additional treat that a canny bird lover can insert into the feed they provide.
Dairy is generally quite good for them in moderated quantities, as it can help break up a normally fiber/protein focussed diet. It is also a great use for some types of cheeses you have that are starting to grow stale (the bird does not really care about texture, luckily!)
In this article, we will be providing you with a comprehensive breakdown of the kinds of cheese you can and cannot give a bird. The next section brings a particular focus to wild birds, and the types of cheeses (and some other foods) that can be incorporated into the wild bird feed.
Further to that, we will take into consideration the different benefits that feeding birds can have – both for the bird and you, the feeder. There are also some great tips to be had about how and when to feed different types of bird cheese – to ensure you keep that feathered friend as happy and healthy as possible!
So, if you are at all interested in the daily habits of these flying companions, read on as we find out: can birds eat cheese?
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Can wild birds eat cheese?
Cheese can make up a brilliant element of a bird’s diet – even for wild birds! These little critters love to snack on a whole variety of different foodstuffs, and using old, extra, or unwanted cheese to supplement that can be a really effective tool in your birdfeed arsenal.
Now, it should be noted that we are not advising that you should be feeding your pet birds (or any other avian back garden visitors) a sole diet of fine dairy products. The way you want to be incorporating it is as a subtle and occasional addition to certain meals you provide.
What kind of cheese can birds eat?
So, birds are able to digest dairy from milk when it comes in the form of fermented by-products like cheese. Generally speaking, hard, stale cheeses are preferred. In addition, it is better to use mild flavors like American or a tamer cheddar, as cheeses that are too potent can be unwelcome to a bird’s palate.
Hard cheeses like parmesan can also be considered, as these tend to get harder as they get staler. However, parmesan can be particularly potent – so if you are planning to give this to any backyard birds you might be blessed with, make sure it is done in small quantities.
Furthermore, make sure that the cheese you give to wild birds is either very finely sliced, or fully grated. Birds have beaks, and it probably will not surprise you to learn that these beaks are really bad at biting down on blocks of cheese.
When you grate the cheese to this degree of fineness, it also makes it much, much easier to add and sift into your regular feed, nicely bulking out the foodstuffs.
What cheeses bad for birds, and why is that?
Despite some cheeses making a delightful, delectable little snack for your birds, there are some that are not great for your avian allies.
Cream cheese is a prime example of this – it is decidedly not good for your birds. This is partly textural, but more than the way the cream cheese is made utilizes too much-unfermented dairy product to actually be healthy for birds.
It is also worth avoiding cream cheese for your birds because of some of the ingredients that are put into them. Cream cheeses that mix a bunch of different extra flavors are extremely common. The most widely available of these generally include garlic and onion.
Both onion and garlic are really bad for birds, and these common ingredients in flavored cream cheese can make for a horrible experience for birds should they be unlucky enough to chow down on it.
What can you not feed a bird?
Well, aside from the onion and garlic mentioned earlier, there is a laundry list of ingredients that birds should not be allowed to eat:
- Desiccated coconut can be literally lethal to birds.
- Moldy or spoiled foods are best avoided, as with most animals (and humans too). As such funky cheeses like stilton should be entirely avoided.
- Unfermented dairy products like milk can be really bad for birds – the bird’s gut cannot digest milk like that and can cause stomach issues or possibly even death.
- Be careful with food like whole peanuts, dried bread, and hard fat lumps – these can be really dangerous choking hazards so should be avoided entirely.
- In particular, these can be really dangerous for young chicks and should be especially avoided around both breeding and mating seasons (for hopefully obvious reasons!).
You need to be particularly careful with leaving food particulates from these products near where birds eat in your garden, as they tend to eat anything nearby in whatever form they can find.
What are the benefits of feeding cheese to birds?
Surprisingly, the benefits of feeding cheese to birds do not just stop with them, they also can extend to you as well!
Firstly, anyone who is super into feeding wild birds will spend a fair bit on bird feed. Using cheese can be a great way to shore up your feed for these creatures, bulking it up when perhaps your supplies are running low.
For the birds:
The birds love cheese – it has a great flavor and is one they do not get often. Moreover, the winter can be a great time to add cheese to their diets, in this period birds often fail to get as varied a diet in this part of the year.