Is your garden bird table or bird feeder looking a little sparse? Are you unable to get out and buy any seed? If the answer is yes, you may be wondering what items that you already have in the house would be a good substitute for shop-bought seed.
One of those things that you are likely to have in the house is some good old fashioned porridge oats.
Porridge oats are quite inexpensive, healthy and nutritious and can be eaten raw by humans, but can birds eat porridge oats?
Can Birds Eat Porridge Oats?
Porridge oats can be left out uncooked or made into a treat for birds but one thing to remember is that they MUST NOT be cooked. Cooked porridge oats will become sticky and harden around the birds’ beak which will be detrimental to the health of the bird.
Birds forage and will eat many different things as part of their natural diet. Birds will seek out all sorts of insects; from earthworms to flies, they will also eat any seed that has been left in the open for them to find.
How to Prepare Porridge Oats for Birds
There are a few different ways to prepare bird food from porridge oats and they are best used alongside other regular birdseed to provide a more well-rounded diet.
Porridge oats can be left out on the bird table or scattered on the ground for birds to find and eat just as they are, but we like to use porridge oats in our fat balls recipe.
Best Fat Balls Recipe
Fat balls are a great way to keep birds visiting your garden, they are nutritious and healthy and birds cannot get enough of them. Our age-old recipe is a hit with the birds and so easy that kids can help you do it. These fat balls can be made all year round and frozen to be hung in the winter to keep the birds coming back for more.
What You Need
- Large Bowl
- 2 Cups Lard
- 2 Cups of Porridge Oats
- 1 Cup Sunflower Seeds
- 1 Cup Mixed Seeds
- Bird Fat Ball Holder (amazon link – opens in a new tab)
- Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. If you do not have seed, it can be replaced with other household items such as cheese or you can just use more porridge oats.
- Melt your lard in a pan on medium heat, being careful not to burn it.
- Remove the lard from the heat and pour over the dry ingredients mixture and mix it well until all of the lard has been absorbed.
- Let the mixture cool for 5 minutes and then using your hands, mould the mixture into balls.
- Place the lard balls in the ball holder and hang in the garden. Leftover balls that do not fit can be frozen or stored in a cool, dry place in an airtight container for use at a later date.
Are Porridge Oats Good for Birds?
Porridge oats are very good for birds in much the same way as they are for humans. Porridge oats can be used to compliment a birds’ diet and should not be used at the expense of other seeds and grain altogether.
Regardless of how nutritious they are, as with humans, a bird will not just be able to exclusively eat porridge oats, but they will need a balanced diet.
Porridge oats are high in carbs and protein and when used in fat balls, they make a great winter food for birds which helps them retain fat and keep warm but if you can, it is a great idea to mix in some seed too.
Can Birds Eat Cooked Porridge?
Although dry uncooked porridge is very good for birds, the same cannot be said if you cook it. If you have tried to wash up a bowl used for porridge after it has sat for a couple of hours, you will know how stubborn dried porridge is to remove.
If a bird eats cooked porridge, there is a good chance that the porridge will dry on the birds’ beak and it will be just as difficult to remove and it’s not like the bird can use some fairy up liquid to get it off.
Cooked porridge also becomes too glutinous meaning that the health benefits of the oats are greatly diminished.
Can birds eat porridge oats? They certainly can as they are extremely nutritious and healthy, but they should not exclusively eat porridge oats alone.
Like humans, birds also need a balanced diet to remain fit and healthy and too much of the same thing is not very good.
Our fat balls are great winter food for birds that they will love and keep birds visiting your garden even in the colder months.
Garden Doctor Tips
“Never hang fat balls in the summer. In the heat, the fat will melt and if it gets on the birds’ feathers, it may prevent the bird from flying!”
“To make the perfect fat balls, ensure a 2:1 ratio of dry ingredients over lard!”
“Do not use cooked porridge oats for bird food. Cooked porridge can harden around a birds’ beak!”
“Mix in some porridge oats with your regular birdseed to give birds a little something different!”
“Birdseed and oats are particularly dry, do not forget to fill up the birdbath every day so the bird can wash down their snack!”
Frequently Asked Questions
Can birds eat oats?
Yes, birds can and should eat oats as they are packed with carbs, protein and anti-oxidants. Birds should eat oats as part of a balanced diet and should not eat oats exclusively. Birds should also never be given oats that have been cooked as they will harden around the birds’ beak and become extremely difficult to remove.
Can birds eat cooked oatmeal?
No. Cooked oatmeal and porridge is not something that you should give to birds. When oatmeal hardens, it becomes very hard and stubborn to remove. If a bird gets this on its beak, it will not be able to get it off.
Are oats OK for birds?
Dry uncooked oats are a good snack for birds and can be used in a bird food mix. Do not cook oats for birds as you will know if you have ever washed a porridge bowl. It becomes very hard to remove once it has hardened. If this happens to a birds’ beak, it could be disastrous.