Can Birds Eat Popcorn? (Popped or Unpopped)

Whether you are sitting in the warm sunlight having a picnic and eating some popcorn or lounging in your home watching your favorite movie with popcorn and your bird to keep you company.

It is typical for them to flock around your bowl of popcorn and stare at it with beady eyes and why wouldn’t you want to share with them? but can birds eat popcorn? are you doing right by feeding them this snack? lets find out.

They may even try to get hold of some popcorn to eat, but should you let them do so?

Bird owners are highly devoted to feeding only the right nutrition-filled items to their pets and often wonder if this highly popular snack amongst humans makes a good snack for birds as well. 

Can Birds Eat Popcorn? Some Facts You Need to Know

Can Birds Eat Popcorn? The answer to it is simple and positive: Yes, you can have your bird munch on your popcorn with you! It is not only lightweight and yummy but also full of nutrition, which makes it one of the most devoured food in the world. If you are wondering what popcorn actually is, it is corn kernels puffed after heating at a particular temperature. 

However, there are some points to keep in mind. You can absolutely share your popcorn with your bird as long as it does not have any salt, sweetness, or butter. Let us look into all you need to know about how, when, and which popcorn to feed your bird so that you can keep your bird close by and healthy! 

Are Popcorns Nutritional For Birds?

Yes, popcorns are nutritional for birds. It is common to think of popcorn as just a snack and nothing more. The reality behind popcorn is that it holds an excellent nutritional value that can prove beneficial to your bird if it munches on them, provided the popcorn are unflavored, air-popped, and unsalted. 

Can Birds Eat Popcorn

Popcorns are made from corn and thus possess a significant quantity of calcium, fiber, iron, antioxidants, and carbohydrates. This healthy mix of nutrition provides your pet with the energy they require, keeping them healthy with its low-fat and low-calorie status. 

The calcium present in plain popcorn plays a vital role in strengthening bones and helps maintain strong tail wings and healthy plumage. The mineral calcium is also known to help promote blood clotting and keep the reproductive organs of birds functioning properly. 

The iron content in popcorn helps elevate hemoglobin production, whose primary role is to transport oxygen to different organs through the body’s bloodstream. 

In addition, dried corn and popcorn kernels can prove highly beneficial treats for your birds’ beaks as they strain lightly to break the kernels apart, keeping them moving and in shape while simultaneously giving nutrition. 

This shows that popcorn is a highly healthy and nutritional snack for your bird, and you should undoubtedly share some with it the next time you have a movie night or just crave a healthy and light snack. 

However, an accumulation of mineral deposits can weaken your bird’s body. It is, therefore, essential to feed them popcorn in moderation as an excess of food intake tends to make birds malnourished and obese. 

Is It Safe For Birds To Have Popcorn?

If served in adequate amounts, popcorn is mainly safe for birds to eat. Homemade popcorn is primarily a healthy snack and favorable for birds as it does not hold much nutritious sustenance. 

You can quickly make popcorn at home by popping loose kernels on the stove by adding a small quantity of oil. Although these popcorns would be abundant in fiber and carbohydrates, they may possess fewer minerals and vitamins. 

On the other hand, pre-popped popcorn and conventional, readily-available microwave ones do not make good snacks for birds as they are seasoned with fat and salt. Thus, they are not healthy or natural and may prove harmful to birds in some cases. 

This is what makes homemade popcorn a big yes for birds: they are not dangerous and hold the right mix of nutrition. 

How Often Should I Feed My Bird Popcorn?

Just because popcorns are low in fat and high in fiber does not mean they should be made a bird’s staple food. Keeping its nutritional benefits aside, there are particular conditions that should be kept in mind while feeding popcorn to birds. 

They make a good occasional treat or snack, but they should not be fed only popcorn. A bird’s diet should include cooked whole grains, organic vegetables, and sprouted or raw seeds. 

Although popcorn, or popped corn, holds the same nutritional value as un-popped corn, it should be fed in small amounts to a bird on infrequent occasions lest it may get emaciated. 

Different Kinds Of Popcorn A Bird Can Eat 

Can Birds Have Popcorn Kernels?

A number of birds enjoy popcorn as a treat or snack every once in a while. They can easily eat popped kernels, in addition to un-popped or un-cooked popcorn kernels. Therefore, you can indeed share a bag of popcorn kernels with your bird because they can eat them. 

But, you can also make things easier for your dear bird by offering them popcorn kernels that are relatively easier to eat and thus better for them. Such kernels may be boiled for a while in plain water: you do not need to add salt because salt does not make a healthy and nutritional contribution to a bird’s diet. 

Adding some kernels in unflavored, plain water for a bit softens them up, making it easier for birds to chew and munch on them. 

Is It Safe For Birds To Have Popcorn Seeds?

Birds make avid eaters, but fortunately, they are not picky eaters. They usually like to eat popcorn and popcorn seeds, but that does not end there. They can even eat several nuts and fruits as well. 

However, it is crucial to keep in mind that not all birds can eat popcorn seeds.

Conversely, popcorn seeds are not safe to be fed to all kinds of birds. Birds like woodpeckers, pigeons, and jaws may favor hard popcorn seeds and eat them easily, but considerably smaller birds cannot do so. Popcorn seeds may be hard for them to bite into and swallow and thus should be avoided as a snack. 

Can Birds Eat Microwave Popcorn?

It is common to go grocery shopping and pick up a few packs of microwave popcorns just because they are easy to make and too yummy. Chances are that if you purchase a bag of popcorn from the shelf, your birds may not be able to eat it. 

Before you start blaming the microwave, know that it has nothing to do with the microwave itself and everything to do with the composition of the store-bought popcorn. Birds can eat popcorn itself and a bunch of other stuff that comes out of the microwave, but they cannot eat the additional stuff that food manufacturers put on the popcorn. 

This may include artificial sweeteners, preservatives, and a LOT of salt, all of which are unfavorable for birds. To make sure that you can share bits of every bowl of popcorn you eat with your bird, it is advisable to buy uncooked popcorn kernels and pop them yourself at home. 

Can Microwave Popcorn Prove Harmful For Birds?

As discussed before, it is not microwave popcorn that is essentially toxic for birds; it is the added ingredients in it. Your bird can eat popcorn as long as it does not have additional food components.

Although they transform the flavor of popcorn and are really yummy to eat for humans, birds cannot digest these ingredients. Even if they do digest them, they can be highly harmful to their health and may cause some medical conditions. 

Is Unpopped Popcorn Safe To Eat For Birds?

Birds can usually eat unpopped popcorn, but it may be hard for smaller birds to munch on. In contrast, relatively larger and sturdier birds like jaws, woodpeckers, and pigeons do not face much difficulty eating un-popped popcorn due to their solid beaks and digestive systems. 

Although it is not harmful to let your birds snack on unpopped popcorn, it is best if you offer it to them in an appealing way that prompts them to eagerly select and eat it. One such method of feeding small birds can be boiling them. 

Boiling popcorn is indeed a child’s play; all you need to do is take a bowl, pour some plain water into it, and let it simmer over medium heat. Pour in your popcorn kernels when the water starts boiling, and keep the unpopped popcorn boiling for a bit. This would soften them considerably and even add to their taste, making them enjoyable for smaller birds. 

It is common to add salt when boiling unpopped popcorn in the human culinary world but is an abomination in the bird world. Birds should not be given popcorn or popcorn kernels with salt or oil, as both these ingredients are not suitable for their health. 

Salt, in particular, can prove harmful and even dangerous to their health. 

Can Birds Eat Butter Popcorn?

Butter popcorn is not a healthy snack for birds and should be avoided at all costs, given its high salt and fat content, which may impact the bird’s health or damage its neurological system. Such a snack may also lead to gastrointestinal complications, which, when left untreated, may even lead to death. 

Although lightly boiled unpopped popcorn or air-popped popcorn is not dangerous, birds usually have a small and relatively delicate digestive system unable to withstand the massive onslaught of butter which is high in fat and lactose content. 

Feeding your bird butter popcorn may cause several digestive complications, such as loss of appetite, diarrhea, constipation, lethargy, and stomach upset. Oily and fatty foods also increase the risk of cholesterol accumulation in birds, leading to a high risk of cardiovascular complications and obesity. 

Obesity in birds is highly unfavorable: it prevents them from carrying out their daily-life functions, including flying. If left untreated or ill-treated, it may even lead to death. 

Which Birds Can Eat Popcorn?

Several kinds of birds enjoy eating popcorn. Some of the most common that can eat this delicious snack include the following: 

  • Pigeons 
  • Crows 
  • Jays 
  • Cowbirds 
  • Woodpeckers 
  • Starlings 
  • Turkeys 
  • Seagulls 
  • Quail 
  • Cardinals 

Several uncommon or exotic birds also enjoy eating popcorn as a snack, including the following:

  • Parrots 
  • Cockatiels 
  • Parakeets 

Is It Okay For Parrots To Eat Popcorn?

There is absolutely no reason why parrots cannot eat popcorn, just like humans and several other birds. But it is essential to keep in mind that popcorn here means plain, unsalted, unsweetened popcorn that is air-popped, as all other kinds are highly unfavorable for parrots. 

Salt, butter, artificial sweeteners, and other sprinkled-on flavors do not make a good ingredient for a healthy diet for parrots. So if you wish to share with your parrot perched on your shoulder but enjoy flavored popcorn, it is advisable to keep a separate bowl of plain popcorn without any additional flavor enhancers for your buddy to munch on. 

Although parrots enjoy popped popcorns, unpopped, completely raw, and hard kernels are highly dangerous for parrots. They can pose a choking hazard for your pet parrot, just as they are advised to keep out of the reach of children lest they choke on them. 

If you want to feed your parrot unpopped kernels, take your time boiling them until they are soft. Boiling removes all the reasons why you cannot give unpopped kernels to your parrot. 

Can Wild Birds Eat Popcorn?

You can give wild birds popcorn as long as you prepare it the same way you would for your home pet bird: without any salt, artificial sweeteners, additional flavors, or butter. Some birds that like to eat popcorn include crows, grackles, European starlings, and geese in some cases.

Contrary to popular belief, several kinds of wild birds enjoy eating popcorn as an occasional snack. It may even be the favorite food for many, preferring popcorn as a meal over other food items. Although popcorn does not hold any considerable nutritional value, they are fun to eat and munch on. 

When it comes to unpopped popcorn kernels, not all birds can eat them. Only a few, including the Blue Jay, American Goldfinch, the Northern Cardinal, and the House Finch, can eat popcorn kernels. It may not always be easy to root out the birds that eat popcorn kernels, but you can spot them if you have considerable knowledge and look closely. 

Can I Give Popcorn To Backyard Birds?

A number of backyard birds like eating popcorn and even popcorn kernels. Several studies have shown that backyard birds consumed popcorn more readily and in higher amounts when mixed with bird seeds. Such studies point to the notion that birds may eat popcorn better when combined with birdseed than popcorn alone. 

How Can I Make Popcorn Balls For Birds?

Popcorn balls are a highly loved snack amongst humans, made with a fun mix of caramel corn and a Rice Krispie treat. Although human popcorn balls are a little sweet, a little salty, and a little sticky simultaneously, bird popcorn balls are starkly different in flavor. 

However, they are easy and fun to make at home. If you want to make some for your pet birds or wish to attract some beautiful wild birds to your backyard, you can make them with this easy recipe. Let us look at the ingredients you would need when making popcorn balls for your birds:

  • 6 1/2 cups of natural, unflavored, air-popped popcorn.
  • 1/4 cup of dried cranberries
  • 4 tablespoons of natural organic peanut butter.
  • 1 1/4 cups of wild birdseed.
  • 1/3 cup of honey.

The ingredients mentioned above would make about 12 popcorn balls with the following recipe:

  • Make a plain batch of popcorn with an air popper: make sure it is in a generous amount and lacks salt, butter, sugar, or oil. 
  • Mix your freshly made popcorn with peanut butter in a large bowl. 
  • Mix evenly until the popcorn is fully coated with the peanut butter spread. 
  • Add the cranberries, honey, and wild bird seed into your mixture of peanut butter-coated popcorn. 
  • Mix all the ingredients again and make sure the popcorns are evenly coated. 
  • Let the mixture cool to room temperature, and then mold it into small balls or in any size comparable with your birds’ size. (Tip: apply a small amount of cooking spray on your hands to make sure the mixture doesn’t stick to them)
  • Make sure that the popcorn balls you make are firm and do not crack open. Place them neatly on a parchment paper, ensuring they don’t touch each other. 
  • You are all done! Place the popcorn balls in an air-tight container and use them whenever you wish to give your pet bird a healthy treat! 

Popcorn Treats Birds Can And Cannot Have

Sweet Popcorn

Birds should not be given sweetened popcorn as it contains a considerable amount of artificial flavoring and sugars. Although this flavoring may satisfy our tastebuds, birds cannot consume them as it may harm their health. 

Studies have shown that artificial flavoring additives bring about toxic effects in some cases. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid giving your birds sweetened popcorn to steer clear of any undesirable circumstances. 

Caramel Popcorn

Caramel popcorn is also sugar-coated and thus should be avoided at all costs. Additives and sugar-coated popcorn can seriously harm a bird’s health, as the commercially prepared caramel popcorns are made up of sugar, salt, and other ingredients harmful to the digestive system of birds. 

Strung Popcorn

Strung popcorn is not harmful to birds as long as it is naturally made and does not have any artificial flavoring, salt, or butter added. You can also string larger popcorn pieces together with a thread, as it ensures that the thread passes safely through its digestive systems in case a bird swallows any. 

Can Birds Eat Popcorn

Final Thoughts                  

Birds are avid eaters and like to munch on a variety of foods. They would eat whichever food you put in front of them, but that does not mean all foods are okay for them to eat.

Offering your bird a variety of food is not only delicious and beneficial but also keeps them happy. But it is crucial to allow them foods that can have a beneficial impact on their health. 

Popcorns are a nutritious and beneficial food for birds but should only be given to them if they satisfy specific requirements. Your bird is likely to eat whichever kind of popcorn you put in front of it, so you are the one who needs to hold accountable for its food consumption. 

Since it is the responsibility of a bird owner to ensure that the food a bird eats is healthy and according to its liking, the owner needs to be well-informed. If you are one such bird owner, you can check out our other beneficial blogs and get to know all that you should to keep your pet bird healthy and happy!

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