Whether you’re an avian pet parent or a bird enthusiast with multiple feeders in your yard, it is natural to worry about what to feed your birds in the beginning. You might find yourself constantly thinking about the best type of food to use and what to avoid.
Providing a wide variety of foods to your birds can help you attract many of them to your backyard. However, birdseed, minced meat, and nectar aren’t the only items that the birdies can eat. Oats can also become a part of your birds’ diet if used wisely and judiciously.
Can birds eat oats? Yes, oats are nutritious treats enjoyed by many backyard birds. Birds like finches, cardinals, grouses, pigeons, and blackbirds are extremely fond of it. Oatmeal is an excellent source of nutrition for birds when it is uncooked. However, cooked oats should not be served because they are sticky and can glue a bird’s beak when they dry.
Are you wondering about which birds can oats attract to your yard? Or do you want to learn more about how feeding them oats can be beneficial for their health? In this article, I’ll attempt to answer all your queries by telling you everything you need to know about feeding oats to birds.
Are oats beneficial for the health of your birds?
There are birders who might only be concerned about drawing birds into their yard with any food item. But those who truly care about these avian creatures will also wonder about the impact of these foods on their health.
If you’re one of the latter and are curious about how oats will prove to be healthy for your little birdies, I’m going here to help. But first, we’ll quickly go through the nutritional chart of oats given below:
|Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)||0.763 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)||0.139 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (Niacin)||0.961 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)||1.349 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)||0.12 mcg|
|Vitamin B9 (Folate)||56 mcg|
|Calcium, Ca||54 mg|
|Iron, Fe||5 mg|
|Magnesium, Mg||177 mg|
|Manganese, Mn||4.9 mg|
|Phosphorous, P||523 mg|
|Potassium, K||429 mg|
|Sodium, Na||2 mg|
|Zinc, Zn||4 mg|
|Dietary Fiber||10.6 g|
Serving size: 100 grams
As you can see in the table above, oats have far too many nutrients for your birds to be harmful to them. They’re considered a complete diet because they contain the majority of micro and macronutrients.
Keep reading if you want to learn more about how the nutrients present in oats can assist your birds:
- Oats are well-known for their high fiber content. Fibers are also beneficial to your feathery pets as they aid in the proper functioning of their digestive systems and boost their gut health.
- Oats also have a low-fat content, which is ideal if you don’t want your birds to gain weight unnecessarily and become obese.
- The high caloric content of oats can provide your pets with enough energy to keep them going all day when fed in moderation.
- Birds require a significant amount of protein in their diet. Protein is necessary for the health of their feathers as well as the development of their muscles. Thankfully, oats are rich in these nutrients.
- Oats also have a higher lipid content than other grains and a variety of vitamins and minerals such as B vitamins, zinc, and magnesium.
All these benefits are a clear indication that you can go ahead and feed your birdies oats with no worries.
Birds that will eat oats
Not all birds in the world can be expected to eat oats, right? Some are pure carnivores, while others will eat nothing but insects. So, before putting out oats into your bird feeders, you must learn about the birds that are likely to come to feed on them.
Since oats are essentially grains that come from the plant of Avena Sativa, the birds that have a primarily granivorous diet are more likely to munch on them. Here are some of the common birds you can expect in your yard after adding oats to your feeders:
The staple diet of finches is dominated by a variety of seeds and grains. Along with sunflower seeds, oats can also work miraculously in charming them.
Blackbirds and Grackles
Oats can be bad news for those of you who don’t want bullies like blackbirds and grackles on their feeders. Although these birds prefer to eat corn, millet, and sunflower seeds, they’re equally drawn to oats as well.
Oats can come in handy for pet birds as well, particularly parrots. All pet parrot species, including lovebirds, parakeets, cockatiels, cockatoos, and so on, are primarily granivores and can eat oats in all forms. You can feed them grain oats, rolled oats, and soaked oats.
Pigeons and Doves
Ground-foragers like pigeons and doves also feed on various seeds and grains, including oats and oatmeal.
Blue Jays, just like other corvids, are primarily insectivores and enjoy feeding on caterpillars and grasshoppers. However, they’re also intelligent and highly adaptable and will eat seeds, nuts, grains, fruits, and veggies when they can’t find insects. Many birders have observed them being drawn to oats.
Cardinals are another granivore birds that enjoy eating white milo, sunflower seeds, and safflower seeds. Oats, being grains, can attract them into your yard as well.
Sparrows mainly feed on seeds and cracked corn. But when feeding on a bird feeder, they’re not picky and will gladly eat raw as well as rolled oats.
Most bunting species are used to eating seeds all year round, except for a brief period around their breeding season, when they need more animal-based protein and actively hunt insects. Oats are a great food to attract buntings to your yard.
Dry or cooked oats: which one is better for birds?
When it comes to feeding oats to birds, many bird owners are puzzled whether to go for dry or cooked oats. In this section, I’ll assist you in resolving this issue.
Several studies have been carried out to establish the nutritional value of dried oats versus cooked oatmeal. And all of them have come to the same conclusion: the nutritional value of oats doesn’t show any significant changes after being cooked.
In other words, cooked oatmeal is just as healthful as dry oats. In fact, cooking oats can release nutrients that we can’t get from dry oats; the same applies to your birds.
Birds can consume both dried and cooked oats without issue. However, the latter is better for them. When cooking oats for your birds, you must allow them to cool completely before serving them. If not, your birds might end up burning the insides of their mouths while eating it.
Can birds eat steel-cut oats?
Steel-cut oats, often known as “Irish oats” or “Scottish oats,” are oats that have been coarsely chopped and boiled for the longest time. Just like other oats, these are also a good source of protein and minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants. But they have extra fiber than rolled and quick oats.
Steel-cut oats can be offered raw or cooked to your birds. Throwing it on the ground as scratch is a terrific way to encourage birds to continue their natural feeding habits. If it works out, you can also add some to their feeders.
While preparing these oats for birds, many birders soak them overnight. If you like steel-cut oats and want to share them with your avian buddies, you can do so, too.
Can birds eat rolled oats?
Since rolled oats are the most widely consumed by humans, most people refer to them as “Ancient oats.” These oats are steel-cut oats that have been processed extensively.
To make rolled oats, steel-cut oats are steamed, flattened, rolled thin, and left to dry. As a result, they need less cooking process than steel-cut oats. While your birds can eat rolled oats just as safely as steel-cut oats after trying the other, they might prefer steel-cut oats and refuse to eat the latter.
Can birds eat porridge oats?
Porridge oats are nutritious for birds for much of the same reasons they are beneficial to us. These oats are high in slow-release carbs, which help them maintain their energy levels and keep them warm, especially in the winter months.
Other breakfast cereals that your birds can eat
Out of all the breakfast cereals available at our disposal, oats are not the only ones you’d choose, right? If you’re someone who prefers some other cereal and is wondering if you can share your morning meals with your birds, this section holds the answer to your curiosity.
The breakfast cereals that your backyard birds will appreciate include cornflakes, bran flakes, Weetabix, Special K, and Rice Krispies.
However, before you go ahead and add these cereals to the diet of your birdies, you’ll have to keep some basic pointers in your mind:
- To help your birds eat these cereals without trouble, you can try smashing them into smaller, softer treats.
- Breakfast cereals that are overly sweet, like Frosties, or contain chocolate, like Coco Pops, should be avoided. Too much sugar, particularly refined ones, can be detrimental to their health in the long run, and chocolate is already a no-no for them due to caffeine and theobromine.
- Avoid feeding your birds cereals soaked in milk since all of them are lactose intolerant and could suffer from diarrhea upon eating them.
What about fledglings? Can they eat oats as well?
As far as we’ve discussed, oats seem to be quite a popular choice among most backyard birds. But what about their younger ones? Is it a good idea to feed them these cereals? Well, the answer to it is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no.”
While oats are not unhealthy for the fledglings, their diet is a little different from that of the adults. It is because these babies need more animal-based protein while growing up, which means that about 70-80% of their diet should consist of insects at this point.
And when it comes to the fledglings of the wild birds, it is better to leave the job of feeding them to their parents rather than meddling with their diet.
Conclusion: Can Birds Eat Oats?
As we reach the end of our article, what have we learned? We’ve learned that oats are not only absolutely safe for birds but also incredibly beneficial to their health. Both dried and cooked oats are excellent options for your pets, so you can simply feed them the one that they appear to like.