Can Birds Eat Popcorn? Yes, See 3 Tasty Recipes

Can birds eat popcorn? A big bowl of hot, buttered popcorn is basically a requirement for family movie nights. The smell fills up the whole house and that first crunchy bite tastes like childhood.

Popcorn is a quintessential snack for humans. But what about for our feathered friends outside – can birds eat popcorn too?

Birds can in fact enjoy popcorn in moderation as an occasional treat. However, there are some important factors to consider regarding birds’ health and safety.

Can birds eat popcorn

In this article, we’ll explore the nutritional value of popcorn for birds, proper serving methods, potential risks, and healthier alternatives to popcorn treats.

Key Takeaways:
  • Birds can safely eat plain, fully popped popcorn.
  • Remove unpopped kernels to prevent choking hazards.
  • Moderation ensures balanced nutrition.
  • Say no to flavored or salted varieties.

Can Birds Have Popcorn?

The short answer is yes, birds can eat plain popcorn in small amounts as part of a balanced diet.

Similar to humans, birds can benefit from the carbohydrates in popcorn as a source of energy. Fiber and antioxidants in popcorn can also contribute to birds’ health.

It’s important to only feed birds plain, air-popped popcorn without any additional salt, butter, or flavoring.

Any extra additives can be harmful to birds’ digestive systems. Microwaved popcorn with chemicals should especially be avoided.

Both popped and unpopped kernels can be offered to birds, but moderation is key for safety. Here’s a breakdown:

Unpopped Kernels

Birds like jays, woodpeckers, and pigeons enjoy intact kernels to crack open with their strong beaks.

The hard kernels pose more of a choking risk for smaller birds. Soaking the kernels in water can help soften them first.

Popped Popcorn

Plain, fully popped popcorn is safe for all birds to eat. Air pop your own for best results. Even after popping, popcorn retains its fiber, iron, zinc, and other nutritional value.

Occasional Treat Only

It’s important not to replace a bird’s main diet with popcorn. Both popped and unpopped kernels should only be fed sporadically in small quantities as a treat.

Birds need a variety of foods like seeds, fruits, and insects to get all the nutrients required for good health.

Nutritional Benefits of Popcorn for Birds

When served in moderation, plain popcorn can provide some important nutritional perks for birds:

Carbohydrates – Popcorn offers up mostly carbohydrates by volume, providing birds with an energy-rich snack. This gives them fuel for flight and general activity.

Fiber – All that crunch comes from popcorn’s high fiber content. Fiber aids birds’ digestion and may help with weight maintenance.

Antioxidants – Popcorn contains healthy antioxidants called polyphenols. These can boost immunity and reduce disease risk in birds.

Minerals – Essential minerals are found in popcorn, including iron, zinc, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. Birds need these to support muscle function, bone health, blood flow, and more.

Table for Nutrients in One Cup of Plain Popcorn Beneficial to Birds:

NutrientAmount per 1 cup (8g)
Carbohydrate, by difference6.22g
Fiber, total dietary1.16g
Iron, Fe0.26mg
Magnesium, Mg11.52mg
Manganese, Mn0.09mg
Phosphorus, P28.64mg
Potassium, K26.32mg
Vitamin A, IU15.68IU
Zinc, Zn0.25mg

While the vitamins and minerals in popcorn are beneficial, birds should still consume a diverse diet with leafy greens, veggies, fruits, proteins, and other grains too. Popcorn alone won’t provide complete nutrition.

How to Serve Popcorn to Birds

When offering popcorn to your feathered friends, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Remove unpopped kernels – Pick out any unpopped kernels from the popcorn you feed birds. The hard kernels pose a choking risk, especially for small bird breeds.
  • Avoid seasonings – Do not use buttered, salted, or flavored popcorn. Stick to plain popcorn popped with heat and air only. Any added salt, fat, or chemicals can be unhealthy for birds.
  • Limit quantities – Feed only a few small pieces of popcorn at a time as an occasional treat. Too much can lead to digestive issues.
  • Supervise snacking – Watch birds as they eat popcorn to ensure they are actually ingesting the kernels safely. Promptly remove any uneaten popcorn.
  • Separate from main meals – Keep popcorn treats separate from regular feeders full of bird seed mixes, suet, fruits, and other nourishing foods birds rely on.

With proper precautions, popcorn can be a safe snack birds go crazy for. Just be careful not to overindulge them!

Potential Problems of Feeding Popcorn to Birds

It’s understandable if you want to share a favorite snack with your feathery friends. However, there are some potential downsides to be aware of when offering popcorn to birds:

Nutritional deficits – Popcorn is very high in carbohydrates and low in other nutrients birds need to stay healthy. Relying too much on popcorn could lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies over time.

Digestive issues – Eating large amounts of popcorn could upset a bird’s digestive tract, causing diarrhea or other problems. Fats and seasonings also risk stomach troubles.

Choking hazard – As mentioned, unpopped kernels pose a major choking threat to all birds, especially smaller species. Even popped corn could choke birds if consumed too quickly.

Pests – Leaving popcorn out for birds can attract unwanted pests like mice, rats, squirrels, or insects around your home. Promptly dispose of any uneaten popcorn.

Salt toxicity – If birds eat salted popcorn meant for human consumption, they could develop sodium ion toxicosis, which can be fatal.

With some basic precautions, these risks can be easily avoided. Moderation is key when it comes to sharing popcorn with birds.

Can pigeons eat popcorn

Tasty Popcorn Recipes for Birds

Want to know throw to make popcorn for birds and make it tasty? Right below we have provided some tasty popcorn recipes for birds.

The recipes includes the ingredients needed and instructions to prepare the tasty popcorn treat for your birds.

Popcorn Balls for Birds:


  • 1/4 cup of unpopped popcorn kernels
  • 2.25 US tablespoons of vegetable oil
  • 1 cup of bird seed
  • 1/4 cup of dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup of honey or corn syrup


  1. Begin by popping the popcorn, then set it aside.
  2. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over medium heat.
  3. Combine the bird seed, dried fruit, and honey or corn syrup in the saucepan, stirring until thoroughly mixed.
  4. Add the popped popcorn to the saucepan, ensuring it’s evenly coated with the mixture.
  5. Allow the concoction to cool for a few minutes.
  6. Grease your hands with a bit of vegetable oil, then shape the mixture into compact balls.
  7. Give the popcorn balls some time to cool and solidify before hanging them outdoors for the birds to relish.

Popcorn Garland for Birds:


  • Popped popcorn
  • Needle
  • Thread
  • Cranberries


  1. Pop the corn kernels and set them aside.
  2. Thread the needle with a long length of thread.
  3. Thread the popcorn and cranberries onto the thread, alternating between the two.
  4. Once the garland reaches your desired length, tie the thread’s ends together, creating a loop.
  5. Hang the garland outdoors for the birds to savor.

Popcorn and Bird Seed Balls:


  • Popped popcorn
  • Birdseed
  • Gelatin
  • Water


  1. Place the popped popcorn in a spacious bowl and set it aside.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium heat, blend the water and gelatin.
  3. Allow the mixture to simmer and stir until the gelatin fully dissolves.
  4. Pour the gelatin mixture over the popcorn, ensuring it’s evenly coated.
  5. Add the birdseed to the bowl, stirring until well integrated.
  6. Apply a light coating of vegetable oil to your hands, then shape the mixture into compact balls.
  7. Allow the popcorn balls some time to cool and solidify before hanging them outdoors for the birds to relish.

Note: Make sure you use a plain popped corn for the recipes shared above.

Healthier Alternatives to Popcorn Treats

While popcorn is safe for birds in limited amounts, it shouldn’t be their only junk food-style treat. For more regular snacking, try these healthier alternatives:

Chopped fruits/veggies – Chop up fresh produce like apple slices, pineapple chunks, peas, sweet potato, bell peppers, or leafy greens.

Cooked grains – Birds enjoy whole grains like cooked brown rice, quinoa, couscous, or oats. Let the grains cool completely before feeding.

Nutritious baked goods – Make bird-safe “cookies” with oats, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits held together by potato starch or cornmeal.

Suet cakes – Offer suet enriched with nuts, fruits, corn, oats, birdseed, and more. Hang in a wire cage feeder.

Unsalted nuts/seeds – Chopped unsalted peanuts, walnuts, almonds, pistachios, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds make great high-protein snacks.

With so many alternatives, birds don’t need popcorn to have an exciting snacking experience! Rotate through the options to give your feathered friends balanced nutrition.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can birds eat popcorn with butter?

Can birds eat popcorn seeds?

Can birds eat microwave popcorn?

Can birds eat sweet popcorn?

Can birds eat salted popcorn?

Can birds eat popcorn

Final Thoughts: Popcorn as an Occasional Snack

At the end of the day, plain popcorn certainly isn’t poisonous or unsafe for birds.

Offered properly in moderation, popcorn can provide birds with some beneficial nutrients, fiber, and enrichment. Just don’t overdo it, and always supervise snacking.

Remember, variety is crucial when feeding birds. Rotate plenty of seeds, fruits, proteins, veggies, whole grains, suet, and other goodies. An occasional handful of plain popcorn can be part of a balanced avian diet.

Also Check: Can Birds Eat Oats

So next time you make popcorn for family movie night, feel free to share a few plain, popped pieces with your eager feathered friends. Happy and healthy snacking for all!

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