Can Birds Eat Popcorn?

Whether you want to treat your parrot or the wild birds in your garden, it is important to know your bird facts. Choose the wrong ingredients, and sprinkling tasty tit-bits can cause more harm than good.

Popcorn is a popular choice to feed birds. Let’s delve into must-know popcorn facts, as well as its nutritional benefits and disadvantages.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn

Learn if all birds follow the same feeding regulations and ideas for delicious popcorn snacks, Next, discover what foods you should never give a bird and final thoughts on the topic.

What Is Popcorn?

Popcorn is one of the six varieties of corn. Although its growing conditions are similar to field corn, the only maize that can become popcorn is called Zea mays everta. It is similar in appearance to the average corn kernel.

However, is the only one that pops and transforms into the fluffy scrumptious treat we know as popcorn.

The Two Types Of Popcorn

Mushroom and butterfly are the two types of popcorn. The main difference is the shape of the kernel once it has been popped.

Popped And Unpopped Popcorn For Birds

The light, fluffy result of popped popcorn makes it far easier to digest than unpopped kernels.

Other than this fact, there are no differences between the two. Butterfly popcorn is often referred to as snowflake popcorn. This is due to it having a more delicate shape.

Popped popcorn is a good choice of snack to feed your pet budgie, parrot or parakeet. It is also fine to give wild birds this popular treat. You can incorporate it as part of a well-balanced diet.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn

The problems of giving popped corn begin when you opt for pre-popped, microwavable bags of popcorn. The high-salt and fat content make the snack harmful for birds.

Unpopped kernels are great for all birds. They are able to digest the kernels, and they are also beneficial for their beaks. You can boil the kernels a little first, to make them softer and more easily digested.

It is worth noting that chickens are frequently fed on these kernels.

Nutritional Benefits Of Popcorn For Birds

Popcorn has an array of nutritional benefits for the avian community. These include:

  • Antioxidants – your pet bird will benefit from the array of antioxidants supplied from eating air-popped popcorn.
  • Vitamin B – vitamin B found in popcorn helps birds to break down foods.
  • Carbohydrate – this provides a good source of energy for your pet bird.
  • Calcium – popcorn offers a rich supply of calcium to keep a bird’s beaks, bones, feathers, and reproductive system in check.
  • Iron – popcorn provides a rich source of iron for birds (and humans).
  • Whole grain – for a good supply of fiber.
  • Low calorific value – popcorn that doesn’t have added flavorings is a good all-round healthy option.

Disadvantages Of Popcorn For Birds

  • Over-indulging – popcorn should only be fed to birds as a part of a balanced diet. Components included such as iron are great. However, too much iron is bad for a bird. Moderation, people!
  • Small birds – A little vegetable oil is added when preparing air-popped popcorn at home. Whilst this is fine for most birds in small doses, it is not okay for very small birds. For example, robins and sparrows have super-tiny digestive systems that are very easily upset.
  • Cholesterol – pet owners who feed lots of air-popped popcorn (made with vegetable oil) can increase the risk of raising the risk of cholesterol deposits in the pet. This can ultimately lead to coronary issues. As we mentioned previously, everything in balance is good.

How To Ensure Popcorn Is Suitable For All Birds

We know that unpopped and air-popped popcorn is great for birds. Alas, even preparing the treat sensibly on a stove top requires you to add a little oil.

This is not a great choice for tiny birds, and over a long time can also be detrimental for any bird’s cholesterol. To avoid this, try adding a little coconut oil instead of vegetable oil. It makes a great, healthy alternative.

Types Of Popcorn You Should Never Feed Pet Or Wild Birds

So, we know that popped and unpopped popcorn can be a hugely nutritional snack choice for all birds. That said, there is a huge selection of popcorn we should never, ever put near the beaks of our feathered friends.

Pre-popped, ready-made, microwaveable popcorn should be avoided at all costs. Whether it claims to be ‘lightly salted’, buttered, caramelized, or salted – they are all a big no-no for any bird.

High salt, sugar, and fat content is too much for a bird’s digestive system and will lead to inevitable, serious consequences. This usually means an early death. Only ever give your birds the plain, air-popped or unpopped type.

Ingredients For Making A Tasty Popcorn Ball Treat For Your Pet Bird

Make a pet or wild bird’s day by making them a yummy popcorn ball.

To do this, use plain popcorn, bird seed, dried berries, a spray of coconut or vegetable oil, and some unsalted peanut butter. This should only be considered as an occasional treat.

Birds That Cannot Tolerate Popcorn

It is thought that popcorn is very damaging to waterfowl. Also, very small wild birds would find digesting plain, air-popped popcorn difficult. This is because of the oil needed to cook the popcorn.

Foods You Should Never Feed A Bird

Whilst we are on the topic of feeding birds, there are some other foods that should never be given. These include:

  • Avocado
  • Bacon
  • Bread
  • Chocolate
  • Garlic
  • Onion

Final Thoughts

Giving your pet budgerigar, parrot, or parakeet a range of nutrition is so important. The majority of your pet’s diet should include a selection of vegetables, cereals and grains.

Popcorn (when air-popped or lightly boiled) makes a perfect addition to your bird’s diet (and they will love you for it).

Just remember, very small birds and waterfowl cannot tolerate fat content. They should not consume plain air-popped popcorn, as it is made with a drop of vegetable oil.

Andy Waters
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