How to Make Bird Food With Oatmeal


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So you have a lovely group of finches or sparrows flying through your backyard.

You want to feed them but don’t want to spend a ton of money on expensive bird feed that comes in huge bags and is a nightmare to store.

Fear not, here is a cheap way to feed the birds in your backyard using a kitchen staple, oatmeal. 

Oatmeal is a great food source for birds. You can feed birds a variety of different oats, including pinhead, rolled, or jumbo. The exceptions are cooked or instant oats. Oats are highly nutritious, packed full of proteins, carbohydrates, and are low in fat. They are an ideal food source providing birds with the energy they need to survive the winter months. However, like most foods, they should be given in moderation. 

How to Make Bird Food With Oatmeal?

There are multiple ways you can turn any oatmeal you have lying around the house into DIY bird food. 

Serve on Its Own 

The easiest and most hassle-free way to get oats into a bird’s diet spread the oats across the desired location in your backyard.

Feed birds oatmeal tips
Tips for making bird food oatmeal

Or, if you have a bird feeder or bird table, add them there in place of a commercial bird feed. 

Mix with Seed Mix

While it is not uncommon for commercial bird seeds to come with grains already in them, why not add a little more by sprinkling some oatmeal into your birdseed. 

Make Your Own Fat Balls

Fat balls are another way to feed birds oatmeal.

Mix one part oatmeal with two parts fat for a delicious homemade fat ball that the birds in your backyard will love.

Remember This: Just be sure to use a hard fat such as suet to ensure the ball remains set, even during the hotter months. 

Why Should I Make Bird Food Oatmeal? 

Creating your own bird food oatmeal comes with a whole host of benefits.

Not just for the birds in your backyard but also for you.

For you:

  • A cheap alternative to expensive commercial bird feed brands 
  • Can use a fun activity to entertain children 
  • It is highly adaptable and can be tailored to suit the wildlife you wish to attract or to suit the species of bird in your area
  • Free from additives and harmful ingredients
  • Great way to cut down on food wastage 

For the Birds:

  • Easily accessible food source
  • Filled with vitamins and essential minerals 
  • Provides slow release energy beneficial during the winter months 

Is Oatmeal Good for Birds? 

Yes. Oatmeal is a nutritious, healthy grain packed with protein and carbohydrates and is low in fat.

Oatmeal provides slow-release energy and contains essential micronutrients like:

  • vitamins B3, B6
  • iron
  • magnesium
  • potassium
  • and zinc

The health benefits of oatmeal do not only apply to humans but to birds too. 

Oats are a perfect food source, especially in the winter months.

The extra energy they provide helps them to survive the colder weather when natural food supplies are scarce. 

Much like with any diet, moderation is key. While oatmeal is a great food source for birds, you can have too much of a good thing.

Overfeeding can lead to weight gain, so be sure only to leave small amounts of oatmeal on your bird table. 

What Types of Birds Eat Oatmeal?

Oatmeal is particularly good at attracting granivorous bird species.

These are birds whose diet primarily consists of seeds and gains.

Oatmeal for birds

Bird feeders and trays provide them with a readily available food source.

Some examples of granivorous bird species include: 

  • Sparrows and finches 
  • Game birds such as pheasant grouse, quail and partridges
  • Pigeons and doves 
  • Bunting birds and similar large finch-like birds

What Type of Oatmeal Should I Use?

There are a variety of oatmeals that you can use to feed the birds in your backyard. So long as they are not cooked. 

Pinhead is good for bird feeders due to its small size. Other varieties like steel-cut, jumbo, or rolled oats are all excellent. 

Avoid This: Just do not use instant oatmeal or oatmeal sachets. May instant oatmeal brands can contain additives like milk powder, soy protein, or sugar. These products should not be part of a bird’s diet and can affect a bird’s overall health. 

Can I Use Cooked Oatmeal? 

Always feed birds raw oatmeal.

If you’ve ever seen the bottom of a pan after cooking oatmeal, you know the deal. There is always a sticky, gloopy residue left at the bottom.

Cooked oatmeal becomes hard and dry and difficult for birds to swallow, and can be potentially dangerous. 

Can I Add Anything Else to the Oatmeal? 

Oatmeal can be a blank slate for DIY bird food.

Depending on the birds in your local area, you can customize what else to put into your bird food.

Woman is making bird food
Making bird food

Feels free to add things like seeds, other grains like millet, barley, and wheat.

Dried fruit is also another good choice as a little extra treat. 

How Often Should I Feed Birds Oatmeal? 

Like everything, moderation is key.

Yes, oatmeal is an excellent source of energy for most birds. However, too much of it can impact a bird’s health.

Overfeeding can lead to weight gain and affect a bird’s ability to function in the wild. 

If wild birds are particularly prevalent in your area, try feeding them sparingly. Overfeeding wildlife can cause them to become reliant on you for food.

This causes the birds to lose their natural hunting instincts and desire to forage and hunt for food themselves. 

How Much Oatmeal Should I Use? 

While the benefits of bird food oatmeal are clear, how much oatmeal should you use?

As discussed before, moderation is key so use oats sparingly.

Besides the health effects of too much oatmeal, several other factors leaving out too much oatmeal can cause. 

Large birds like pigeons tend to dominate feeders or bird tables.

By placing large amounts of oatmeal, you may encourage them to feed, leaving no food for smaller birds.

To avoid this, provide alternative methods to feed your backyard flock. Use a mix of tube feeders and open trays that will accommodate ground feeders as well. 

Too much food can also lead to unnecessary waste.

Always Good Idea: Be sure to clean your feeders regularly and keep them free from moldy seeds and feed. 

Final Words

Why don’t you try to make some for your own backyard.

As you can see I make mine from little Yogurt pots and string. Very easy and simple to do.

My children love getting involved and making them to hang in the garden. Plus, it’s an inexpensive way to help feed the wild birds.

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