Can Birds Eat Popcorn? Is It Safe Popcorn as a Bird Snack

Can Birds Eat Popcorn
Can Birds Eat Popcorn

Many people enjoy sharing their favorite snacks with their feathered friends. Popcorn is a popular treat, but can birds safely eat popcorn? The answer is yes, with a few precautions. Plain, air-popped popcorn can be an occasional treat for birds, but there are some important things to keep in mind.

Is Popcorn Safe for Birds to Eat?

In moderation, plain popcorn can be a safe and even healthy snack for many birds. Popcorn is a whole grain that provides some nutritional benefits:

  • Fiber to support digestion
  • Carbohydrates for energy
  • Small amounts of vitamins and minerals like iron, magnesium, and zinc

However, popcorn should only be an occasional treat in a bird’s diet, not a staple food. Too much popcorn could lead to nutritional imbalances.

What Kind of Popcorn Can Birds Eat?

The healthiest popcorn for birds is air-popped, unsalted, and unseasoned. Microwave popcorn and pre-packaged popcorn are not suitable for birds due to the high levels of salt, fat, preservatives, and other artificial ingredients which could be harmful. Stick to plain, air-popped popcorn with no oil or butter added.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn Kernels?

Yes, birds can eat both popped and unpopped popcorn kernels. Larger birds like jays, crows, and parrots often enjoy crunching on the hard kernels. Smaller birds may find the unpopped kernels difficult to eat. Soaking the kernels in water for a few minutes can soften them. Always let the kernels cool completely before offering them to birds.

How to Prepare Popcorn for Birds

Follow these tips when preparing popcorn as a treat for your feathered friends:

  1. Use an air popper or pop the kernels on the stove with no oil or butter
  2. Don’t add any salt or seasonings
  3. Let the popcorn cool completely before giving it to birds
  4. Remove any unpopped kernels which could pose a choking hazard
  5. Only offer popcorn occasionally as a treat, not a main part of the diet

You can offer the popcorn on a platform feeder or sprinkle some on the ground for birds to peck at. Always remove any uneaten popcorn at the end of the day so it doesn’t get wet and moldy.

What Birds Can Eat Popcorn?

Many backyard birds seem to enjoy snacking on popcorn, including:

  • Jays
  • Crows
  • Woodpeckers
  • Sparrows
  • Cardinals
  • Doves
  • Grackles
  • Starlings

Smaller birds like finches may eat popcorn that has been broken into tinier pieces. Larger birds like parrots, parakeets, and macaws also love popcorn as a fun treat. Unpopped kernels are suitable for birds with strong beaks like parrots and macaws.

Is Popcorn Healthy for Birds?

While plain popcorn does provide some nutritional value for birds, it is quite low in protein and lacks many of the vitamins and minerals birds need. Popcorn is relatively high in carbohydrates and fiber but it shouldn’t replace a bird’s normal balanced diet.

As an occasional snack, popcorn is fine for most healthy birds. However, birds with certain health issues like obesity or diabetes should probably avoid popcorn and other carbohydrate-rich treats. Check with your avian vet if you’re unsure whether popcorn is safe for your pet bird.

Popcorn Balls and Strings for Birds

Popcorn Balls and Strings for Birds
Popcorn Balls and Strings for Birds

Some bird lovers make popcorn balls and strings as special treats, especially around the holidays. To make a popcorn ball, mix air-popped popcorn with a small amount of peanut butter, suet, or gelatin to bind it together. You can also add bird seed, chopped fruit, or nuts.

Popcorn strings are made by threading popped kernels onto a string with a needle. Avoid using fishing line which could tangle around birds’ feet. Choose a natural fiber string or thread instead.

While many birds enjoy popcorn balls and strings as a treat, there are a few risks to keep in mind. Popcorn strings and balls may attract other wildlife like squirrels and raccoons. The string could also become a tangling hazard if not monitored. It’s best to only put out popcorn strings and balls when you can keep an eye on them and bring them in at night.


In conclusion, plain air-popped popcorn can be a safe and fun treat to share with your backyard birds. Popcorn provides some nutritional benefits but should only be offered occasionally as part of a balanced diet. Always avoid microwave or flavored popcorn and never add salt or oil.

With these guidelines in mind, feel free to scatter some popcorn for your feathered friends and enjoy watching them snack and play. You can even string popcorn garlands to add a festive touch to your bird feeders. Just remember, moderation is key when it comes to feeding birds any type of human food, including popcorn.


Q: Is it safe to feed birds unpopped popcorn kernels?

A: While you might think of it as giving birds their own personal puzzle, feeding unpopped popcorn kernels to birds is not a recommended activity. These hard kernels can be difficult for birds to digest and might even pose a choking hazard. Stick to providing the popped version to keep snack time both fun and safe.

Q: Can birds eat microwave popcorn?

A: Microwave popcorn, while convenient for human movie nights, should not make an appearance at birds’ snack tables. The added salt, butter, or oil found in most microwave popcorn can be harmful to birds, turning their special treat into a not-so-special experience. Birds prefer their popcorn much like their humor – light and airy, without the heavy stuff.

Q: Should I feed birds popcorn with butter?

A: Birds, unlike moviegoers, can’t handle the rich plot twist that butter adds to popcorn. Buttered popcorn is harder for birds to digest, and the fats and salts associated with it can be harmful. So, when sharing your popcorn with the birds, keep it classic – opt for plain, air-popped kernels. This way, birds get all the fun without the unhealthy drama.

Q: How much popcorn is safe to feed to birds?

A: When it comes to feeding birds popcorn, think of it as an occasional treat, not the main course. A handful of unsalted, unbuttered, air-popped popcorn sprinkled around occasionally will make birds feel like they’ve hit the snack jackpot without overdoing it. Moderation is key – even birds have to watch their figures.

Q: Can birds safely eat salted popcorn?

A: Salty snacks might be the life of the party for humans, but for birds, they’re a bit of a party pooper. Salted popcorn can be harmful to birds, leading to dehydration or even toxicosis. To keep the vibe positive in your backyard, offer birds unsalted popcorn. Think of it as keeping their tiny taste buds safe while they party.

Q: Are there other snack options that birds enjoy besides popcorn?

A: Birds are not picky when it comes to the snack bar. Aside from the joy of plain, air-popped popcorn, birds can enjoy a variety of seeds and grains that align more closely with their natural diet. Think sunflower seeds, millet, and even bits of fruit for a colorful and healthy snack mix. Variety is the spice of life, after all, especially in the world of bird snacking.

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