Can Birds Eat Popcorn? The Answer May Surprise You!

Many of us enjoy popcorn regularly, whether we’re at home, enjoying a movie at the theater, or out and about. There’s something curiously addictive about it, isn’t there?

You just can’t eat a handful and stop there. At least I can’t. But how about our feathered friends, the wild birds that visit us regularly?

Is it safe to give popcorn to birds? The answer may surprise you! In this blog post, we will take a closer look at popcorn and how it may or may not affect birds as part of their diet.

We will also discuss other natural foods you can feed backyard birds. So, read on to answer the question, can birds eat popcorn, as well as learn what other foods are good for your backyard feathered friends.

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Can Birds Eat Popcorn?

You might be wondering if your backyard birds can eat popped popcorn, the same movie snacks you enjoy. The good news is feeding popcorn to the birds is generally safe. In fact, many birders recommend offering popcorn as a treat. Many species of birds will eat this fluffy snack as well as eat popcorn kernels.

There are some important things to remember, though, when feeding birds popped popcorn.

Just be sure to stick to plain, unbuttered popcorn. Butter, cheese, oil, and other toppings can be harmful to birds, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.

Air-popped popcorn with no salt or butter added is best.

Microwaveable popcorn can include ingredients that are not healthy for birds, such as seasoned salt, caramel, or artificial butter. Be sure to check the ingredients list before you pop that bag of microwave popcorn to prepare for the wild birds.

How Often Should Birds Be Given Popcorn?

how often should birds be given popcorn

Unlike many packaged bird foods that are high in sugar and other additives, popcorn is a whole grain that is high in fiber and protein. In addition, popcorn popping kernels are a good source of essential vitamins and minerals.

However, it is important to only give popcorn to wild birds on occasion, as they still need to eat a variety of other foods to maintain their health. A diet that consists primarily of popcorn could lead to malnutrition and other health problems.

So when you’re looking for a tasty treat to share with your feathered friends, remember that moderation is key. A little popcorn goes a long way!

Nutrients in Popcorn

You might not think of popcorn as healthy food, but it actually contains several nutrients that are beneficial for wild birds. For example, popcorn is a good source of fiber, which helps keep birds’ digestive systems working properly.

Popcorn is also high in carbohydrates, which provide energy for birds to fly and forage. In addition, popcorn kernels contain small amounts of protein and fat, which are essential for building feathers and maintaining body temperature.

Can Wild Birds Eat Popcorn Kernels?

Many types of wild birds enjoy eating popcorn kernels. In fact, popcorn is a great way to attract birds to your backyard feeder. While some birds will only nibble at the kernels, others will devour them eagerly.

Some of the most common species of birds that enjoy eating popcorn include finches, chickadees, nuthatches, and woodpeckers. So if you’re looking to attract more feathered friends to your yard, try putting out some popcorn kernels.

Just remember that this should be done as a treat for the birds and not as the main menu item in your ‘backyard restaurant’.

Other Foods That Birds Will Eat

If you want to offer the birds in your backyard alternatives from the regular bird seed blend, here are some options to consider that will be beneficial to a bird’s diet.

Berries, tomatoes, sunflower seeds, sliced grapes, and apples (no seeds) are all great options for wild birds.

Berries provide a high-energy food source that is perfect for birds in the winter months when activity levels are lower.

Tomatoes are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and sunflower seeds are a high-protein option that can help birds rebuild their feathers.

Sliced grapes are a refreshing treat on hot days, and apples (no seeds) are a safe option for birds that may be hesitant to try new foods.

By offering a variety of foods, you can attract a wider range of birds to your yard and provide them with the nutrition they need to stay healthy.

Foods That Should Not Be Given to Birds

You may enjoy feeding the wild birds that come to your backyard, but not all foods are good for them.

For example, many birds are unable to digest cooked rice, which can expand in their stomachs and cause digestive problems.

Bread is also problematic, as it lacks the nutrients that birds need to survive.

In addition, refrain from giving birds sugary junk food like candy or cake, as these can lead to health problems for them.

Junk foods offer very little nutritional value for birds (or humans!), so things like chips, pretzels, cheese puffs, and similar are best kept away from them.

Instead, offer them a variety of healthy foods like seeds, fruits, and nuts. By doing so, you can help ensure that the wild birds in your area can stay healthy and thrive.

Popcorn Balls for Birds

popcorn balls for birds

If you want to try your hand at creating popcorn balls for the birds in your backyard, here is a simple recipe:


  • 1/4 cup unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 2.25 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cup  bird seed
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 4 tbsp unsalted peanut or almond butter
  • Non-stick cooking spray


  1. Pop the popcorn kernels in your popcorn popper, or on the stovetop using the vegetable oil. Heat the oil over medium heat, then pour in the popcorn kernels and cover. The kernels will start to pop. When there are about 2 to 3 seconds between pops, take the popcorn off of the stove.
  2. Do not add anything to the popcorn!
  3. Get a large bowl, and put the popped popcorn, bird seed, and cranberries in it. Stir with a wooden spoon.
  4. If you don’t want to use cranberries, other fruit such as dried cherries or dried apricots will also work.
  5. Next, heat the honey over medium heat until it’s thin – 2 to 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the unsalted peanut butter or almond butter. Combine well and remove from heat.
  7. Using a wooden spoon, stir the honey mixture into the popcorn mixture until everything has an even coating.
  8. Cool for about 10 minutes.
  9. When you can touch the mixture and it doesn’t feel too hot, use your hands to shape into tennis-ball-sized circles.
  10. Wrap yarn or twine around the balls to hang them up.
  11. Serve as an occasional treat!

Conclusion: Can Birds Eat Popcorn?

Yes, birds can eat popcorn, and is a way to attract wild birds to your backyard. Just remember the cautions detailed above regarding serving them plain popcorn that has no added ingredients.

In fact, it’s a good idea to offer them a variety of healthy foods like seeds, fruits, and nuts. By doing so, you can help ensure that the wild birds in your area can stay healthy and thrive. Popcorn balls for birds are also a fun way to get into the spirit of things!

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