No matter how young or old you might be, doesn’t the term “chocolate” just fill your heart with pleasure? While all of us might have different preferences for chocolate, no one can say they dislike chocolates altogether, can they?
Some of us enjoy dark chocolate, while others prefer to buy milk or caramel-filled ones. Chocolate also happens to be the favorite flavor of many people when it comes to cakes, cookies, or ice creams. But what about your avian friends? Do they enjoy chocolate the same amount? More importantly, should they be eating it?
Can birds eat chocolate? No, birds shouldn’t eat chocolates. Chocolate is highly toxic to birds. While some birds might enjoy eating chocolate, they should never be encouraged to do so. Even a small amount of chocolate can degrade their health and even kill them. The same is true for chocolate cakes; they’re not for birds.
In this article, we will learn everything about feeding chocolate to birds and its consequences. Stay with us till the end to find the answers to all your chocolate-related queries.
Do birds enjoy eating chocolate?
Before we proceed to talk about the effect of chocolate on birds’ health, ask yourself this: do birds even like eating chocolate? The answer to it depends according to different bird species.
But as a general rule, birds are attracted to all sweet treats, including chocolate. And in the case of wild birds, you can attract them with pretty much anything edible.
Why is chocolate bad for birds?
The key to learning why chocolate is bad for birds is in understanding what it is made up of. The main ingredient of chocolate is cocoa beans that come from the cacao plant.
After these beans have been collected and cleaned, they are liquified to make chocolate. Upon being liquified, these beans break down into two different substances: cocoa butter and cocoa solids.
While cocoa butter is mostly harmless, it’s the solids that contain two toxic compounds for the birds: caffeine and theobromine. Let’s learn about these compounds in detail now.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can increase their heart rate to unnatural levels when consumed by your birdies. It can lead to hyperactivity, arrhythmia, and in many cases, even death from cardiac arrest.
You must keep in mind that this applies to all kinds of stimulants; the birds need none.
Theobromine is a bitter alkaloid present in cocoa that is supposed to have a therapeutic effect on our blood sugar levels. However, the problem with birds is that they lack the enzymes required to digest theobromine, unlike us.
This means that if they eat chocolate, the theobromine in it will keep building up inside their bodies until it reaches a toxic level. Ultimately, its deposition can cause internal bleeding and heart failure in the body.
Is sugar a natural part of cocoa beans or the cacao plant they come from? Nope. However, no one enjoys eating raw cocoa beans, right?
What all of us enjoy is the processed chocolate that the beans are used to make. And this processed food contains varying amounts of sugar, depending on what type of chocolate it is.
Sugar is unhealthy for birds because it increases their blood sugar levels and creates an imbalance in their body, becoming a risk to their lifespan. Sugar also leads to obesity in many birds.
Is dark chocolate safer for birds than milk chocolate?
As we’ve just discussed, both caffeine and theobromine are present in cocoa solids. And since milk chocolate has a lesser concentration of cocoa solids than dark chocolate, it is slightly less harmful to your feathered friends than the latter.
What about white chocolate? Is it safe for birds?
Now, you might be wondering why we’re talking about white chocolate again. After all, aren’t milk and white chocolate the same? Well, not really.
For those of you who aren’t into baking or chocolate enthusiasts, the confusion between white and milk chocolate is quite common. Let me clear it out for you all.
Milk chocolates contain a lesser amount of cocoa than dark chocolates and have more milk and sugar. This lends them a sweeter, less bitter taste that many people dig.
On the other hand, white chocolate contains no amount of cocoa at all! Yes, you read that right. In place of cocoa, these chocolates contain cocoa butter. In a sense, these shouldn’t be called “chocolate” at all.
This means that that light brown chocolate you see in the market is milk chocolate, while the white one is white chocolate.
Now that we’ve cleared it out for you let’s discuss whether white chocolate is a safer chocolate alternative for birds.
It is true that white chocolate is safer for birds than any other chocolate. This is because it lacks cocoa, the major ingredient that is toxic to them.
However, the absence of cocoa doesn’t make white chocolate completely safe for the birdies. You mustn’t forget that it still contains milk and sugar, both of which are unhealthy for birds.
Can birds eat chocolate cake?
Did you bake a large chocolate cake for a party last night and have got some of it leftover? Well, if you’re looking for a way to use it, don’t get any ideas about feeding it to the birds in your yard.
First and foremost, food items like cake are meant solely for human consumptions, not for animals or birds. These foods contain many ingredients that might not sit well with their digestive tracts.
The two ingredients of chocolate cake that are most problematic for your backyard birdies are given below:
As we’ve already discussed earlier, sugar is not something you should be giving to the birds. And since all cakes are supposed to be sweet, a chocolate cake is bound to have at least four times the amount of it that’s present in chocolate alone.
Clearly, eating such a sweet treat is not a good idea for your feathered friends’ health.
Not all of you might know it, but all birds are lactose intolerant. They lack the organs that are required to break down the lactose in dairy products and, therefore, can’t digest any dairy product properly.
Milk, cream, butter, and other dairy products are integral to cakes, which makes them unfit for your birdie’s consumption.
How much chocolate can be lethal to birds’ health?
It is difficult to calculate the exact amount of chocolate that can harm a bird because of the various factors involved in it. The size of a bird and the variety of chocolate (milk or dark) can all decide how badly it can harm the bird.
But as a general rule, it is believed that about 2 mg of chocolate is enough to kill a bird. So, you better be careful about feeding them these delicious treats.
Is chocolate safe for wild birds?
Before we answer this question, ask yourself this: what are the basic differences between wild and pet birds?
Wild birds are distinguished from pet birds because they prefer a natural environment or are difficult to tame or domesticate. When it comes to their basic anatomy, the two are not all that different.
In other words, processed human foods like chocolate are equally harmful to both pet and wild birds.
What about their fledglings? Can they eat chocolate?
Just like humans, the fledglings are also smaller and more fragile than their parents. Therefore, if chocolate can harm a fully-grown adult bird, it will kill a fledgling right away. So, if you happen to have a bird’s nest on your property with little fledglings in it, never try to feed them chocolate.
A bird ate chocolate accidentally — What happens now?
If your pet bird has ingested chocolate accidentally, the first thing you need to do is assess the amount they’ve eaten and check the wrapper to learn about its potency. Was it milk or dark chocolate? What was the percentage of cocoa content in it?
If the birdie has taken only a nibble of it, perhaps you have no reason to worry. But even then, you must keep an eye on them for the next couple of hours for any abnormal sign or behavior. Even if you notice the slightest difference, take them to an avian vet right away.
Can you feed birds something that has a small amount of chocolate?
Apart from plain chocolate, there are a large number of edibles that contain varying amounts of chocolate in them, such as cookies, croissants, and more.
So, can any of these food items be fed to birds? Well, it would be best if you don’t feed it to them. It is because, as we’ve discussed earlier, even a small amount of chocolate can damage their health considerably.
Conclusion: Can birds eat chocolate?
Whether you’re a pet parent to a bird or enjoy having wild birds in your backyard, learning about which foods are healthy for them and which ones aren’t is essential.
Birds are not smart enough to know what they should eat, which is why you must make an effort to help them with it. Chocolate is one of the most harmful things they could eat; it contains caffeine, theobromine, and sugar, all of which are detrimental to their health.
Apart from chocolate, you should also be careful about feeding birds any kind of processed food that is meant for human consumption.