Birds can eat chips, but they are detrimental to the health of the bird because they do not offer enough nutrition or the appropriate balance of fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. Although most types of chips are not toxic to birds, they are very unhealthy.
What You'll Learn
There are many reasons you may wonder if birds can eat chips. Perhaps you have pet birds, such as parakeets or a parrot, and you want to share your snack with them. Maybe you have been on a picnic and seen a seagull fly off with a chip in its mouth and wondered whether it should be eating it.
In this article, we’ll cover the toxicity of chips, whether or not they are healthy, and snacks you can feed birds instead of chips.
Are Chips Toxic to Birds?
The good news is that most types of chips are not toxic to birds. This means that most chips are not poisonous or immediately harmful and will not cause quick death or severe bodily damage when eaten in small amounts.
Some examples of chips that are non-toxic to birds include potato chips and corn tortilla chips. The base ingredients in these chips, potatoes and corn, are both natural ingredients that will not cause harm to a bird on their own.
You should always examine the contents of any snack you feed birds and research whether or not they contain ingredients that are explicitly toxic to birds.
Are Chips Healthy for Birds?
Unfortunately, although they are non-toxic, chips are still very unhealthy for birds. This is because they are covered in salt and are high in fats and oils, which is bad for the bird.
It is unhealthy for a human to eat too much junk food, and this food is equally unhealthy for birds. In fact, it ends up being worse for the birds than for humans because a bird is so small by comparison that it takes less salt and fat to have a negative impact.
Birds cannot ingest refined salts and fats in the way that humans can. This is because there is seldom a source of pure salt in the wild for birds to dine on. Instead, they only acquire trace amounts of sodium through their natural diet.
The same can be said for fats. Birds typically eat nuts and seeds, which are high in healthy fats. However, the oil used to fry or cook most chips is refined, making it difficult for birds to digest. There is also much more oil in chips than there is fat in a normal bird’s diet.
Giving a bird too much salt and fat can lead to troubles with digestion, problems with heart health, and an addiction to junk foods. If a bird eats too much human junk food, it may start to dislike the taste of its natural food and start craving processed foods like chips.
This can lead to other health problems, and in domestic birds, the bird may even refuse its own bird food in favor of junk food.
What Snacks Can I Give Birds Instead of Chips?
Luckily, there are many snacks you may have around your home that are perfectly safe and even healthy for birds to eat! These include certain fruits, nuts, and seeds.
These snacks are healthy for birds because they are all natural, unprocessed, and don’t contain other ingredients like salt, added sugar, artificial sweeteners, or preservatives.
Fruits may be the easiest bird snack option around your home. Many birds enjoy eating all types of berries, and larger birds can eat fruits like apples and pears when they are diced up into small chunks. Citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons are also acceptable.
Besides the fruit’s flesh, the fruit’s seeds are an excellent source of nutrients for birds and make up part of a healthy diet.
Other than fresh fruits, you can also feed dried fruits to birds, such as dried apricots or raisins.
Most nuts and seeds you have at home can be fed to birds. These seeds and nuts should be unsalted and unseasoned for the snack to remain healthy. Roasted nuts are usually fine, but check ingredient labels for the use of any added oils that could be harmful to birds.
Some types of seeds that birds enjoy are sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds, also known as pepitas. A few types of nuts that birds enjoy are cashews, almonds, and macadamia nuts, but be sure that these nuts are crushed up into smaller pieces to avoid any choking hazards for birds, especially with domestic birds that may not have experience breaking up their own foods.
Another snack that can be fun to feed to pet birds and wild birds alike is hot air popcorn. Unlike microwave or stovetop popcorn, hot air popcorn does not use oil in the cooking process.
Hot air popcorn doesn’t contain any salt or seasonings unless you choose to add it, making it the perfect snack to flavor to your own taste while keeping a portion of it plain for the birds.
Birds enjoy the crunchy and fluffy texture of hot air popcorn, which has become a popular bird treat among avian lovers. Because the corn kernel is the only ingredient in unseasoned hot air popcorn, this snack is all-natural and perfectly healthy for birds to enjoy.
Limit Chip Intake
While most types of chips are non-toxic to birds, it is still not recommended to feed chips to birds. This is because most chips and other human junk food are naturally unhealthy and can have a large impact on birds because of their size.
While most chips are unhealthy for birds due to their high oil content or added salt, there are plenty of other snacks in your pantry that are safe to share with wild and domestic birds, such as natural fruits, nuts, seeds, and popped corn.
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I am Bryan Powell and I own BirdHour.com. I love bird watching; in fact, I have a parakeet of my own. I enjoy spending time outdoors and observing the natural world around me. This website is a means of sharing my passion for birds with others who may be interested in this activity.