Can Birds Eat Corn? Here’s a Kernel of Truth

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Corn is a food source that we will use in various ways. So you might be wondering whether it is also something that birds can eat.

Do Birds Eat Corn?

The answer is that many birds do indeed eat corn, both the grain and the sweet corn kernels that we also like to eat.

Corn, also known as maize, is a cereal grain that comes from the plant Zea mays. Six major types of maize, or corn, are grown by humans – dent corn, flint corn, pod corn, popcorn, flour corn, and sweet corn – each identified according to its use.

Human beings eat corn in a huge range of different ways. And birds will, too.

Birds eat corn from the plant while it is growing and can sometimes become a problem for those trying to cultivate it as a garden plant or agricultural crop. Many birds will also consume corn (of different types) when it is offered at a bird feeder, bird table, or other feeding station.

Birds can become a problem if you are growing corn in your garden, eating the grains or the kernels of sweet corn types before you get the chance to harvest. But it is important to remember that while they can sometimes be a garden pest, birds are overwhelmingly beneficial in a garden – bringing far more positives than negatives for a gardener.

So sharing a little when growing crops, and supplementing birds’ natural diets at bird feeders or bird tables, can benefit you and the birds themselves.

What Types of Birds Eat Corn?

Whole grains of corn are eaten by birds like ducks, chickens, cranes, crows, geese, and jays, for example. Cracked corn grains are eaten by many ground-feeding birds such as doves, native sparrows, and wrens, and may also be appreciated by some other seed and grain-eating birds.

Some birds will also take corn off the cob (if the squirrels don’t beat them to it). And many of the birds mentioned above that eat the grains will eat sweetcorn kernels, too. Pet birds like parrots, parakeets, and lovebirds also love fresh sweetcorn as a treat and a supplemental part of their diet.

Is Corn Good for Birds?

Corn can be good for birds but is typically best offered in moderation in any form. Remember, we should always aim to provide natural food sources for birds before we consider providing additional food at garden bird feeders.

We should first think about how we can give birds a complete and balanced diet by making sure that we plant our gardens to create plenty of food for wild birds to eat. It can be beneficial to include plants that provide fruits, berries, nuts, seeds, and grains, as well as plants that attract insects that also make up a part of many birds’ diets.

However, once we have thought about this and about creating a wonderful bird-friendly garden, we can also help birds even more by providing additional food for them to eat. Corn is one food that can be offered to birds in your garden in various ways. But it is essential to think about the type of birds you want to feed and how you should best provide the corn to make sure you do them as much good as possible.

How To Serve Corn to Birds

If you would like to serve corn to birds in your garden, note that birds will typically consume corn in dried form, such as whole grains, cracked corn, dried corn on the cob, cornmeal, or cornbread. However, some birds may pick at fresh sweetcorn kernels, too.

Can Birds Eat Whole Grains of Corn?

As mentioned above, some birds will eat whole corn grains. But many birds will find these too large and hard to consume, so cracked corn might be a better option if you want to provide a food source for as many different bird species as possible.

Can Birds Eat Cracked Corn?

Cracked corn is more easily consumed by a broader range of birds. However, it is often used to bulk out feeds placed in hanging bird feeders, and since many birds that eat cracked corn are ground feeders, it might be best to stick to seeds in a feeder and scatter cracked corn on the ground.

Can Birds Eat Sweet Corn?

Some birds do indeed like to eat sweet corn as much as we do. So you might leave some leftover sweet corn from your meal for the birds to eat.

However, keep an eye out for other species that might come in and eat it up before the birds do, and don’t leave too much or you risk attracting rodents and other pests.

Can Birds Eat Corn

Can Birds Eat Corn on the Cob?

Hang a cob with fresh sweetcorn and some birds may well come and take a taste, whether it is raw or cooked corn. However, again, make sure it does not stay out too long as it could go bad or attract other creatures you won’t be so happy to see.

Can Birds Eat Dry Corn Kernels?

A better option is to allow the raw corn on a cob to dry out. The cob can then be hung up in your garden.

This can be a good option if you want to feed birds that share your outside space. You can also insert a couple of sticks through the cob to provide birds with perches as they nibble on the dried kernels.

Can Birds Eat Canned Corn?

Canned corn can also be fine, but avoid providing any canned in salt water, or any that has been creamed and sweetened, since the salt and other added ingredients can pose a health risk to the birds.

Can Birds Eat Frozen Corn?

Defrosting frozen corn and placing that in your garden will be just the same as providing fresh corn, so this can also be done in moderation as long as you do not let it spoil.

Can Birds Eat Popcorn?

Plain popcorn is absolutely fine, and many birds will like to eat it. But make sure you do not provide popcorn with chemicals, salt, sugar, or other things added since they won’t be suitable for the birds.

Can Birds Eat Cornmeal? Raw Cornmeal?

Raw and cooked cornmeal can also be fed to garden birds in moderation to provide them with a source of energy.

In cornmeal form, the corn’s nutrients are more readily available to smaller birds that might not be able to manage whole or cracked corn as easily.

Can Birds Eat Cornbread? Or Corn Tortillas?

Birds can also eat cornbread, raw corn tortillas, and other cooked and baked goods containing corn, and these can also help provide them the energy they need when fed in moderation.

However, you must always think carefully about what else a recipe contains to ensure it has nothing that might be dangerous for birds.

Just remember, corn can be great for feeding birds. But for a healthy and balanced diet, birds need to consume other seeds, grains, and other food sources, too.

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Elizabeth Waddington

Elizabeth Waddington is a conservation, rewilding, organic gardening and sustainability specialist who loves everything nature-related. She loves helping others around the world connect with the wildlife and wonders around them. When not creating wildlife-wise, eco-friendly designs, or writing about the topics that inspire her, she loves spending time watching the birds on and around her own rural property, or heading out on camping or hiking adventures to spot birds and other wildlife in a range of habitats.