Whenever we are trying to work out whether or not we can feed leftovers to our backyard bird friends, we need to think carefully about all the different ingredients that those leftovers contain, and whether any of those ingredients pose a risk to our feathered friends.
So, can birds eat pizza?
Whether or not birds can eat a little bit of leftover pizza very much depends on the ingredients that were used to top that pizza, and the other ingredients that it might contain.
Since it is important to know what went into the pizza, a homemade one can be safer to feed to birds. You can be absolutely certain about all the ingredients that went into your homemade pie and, most crucially, keep salt levels down.
Salt is dangerous for wild birds, and can pose a problem even in smaller amounts for smaller bird species. A pizza that you have bought or had from a takeaway might contain far more salt than you imagine. Caution is most definitely required.
Can Birds Eat Pizza Crust?
Birds can eat bread in all its forms. However, it is important to understand that it does not contain a lot of what they need. If birds have too much bread, they might fill up and not consume the foods they need for a balanced, healthy diet.
So feeding the odd pizza crust as a treat for birds here and there won’t do them any harm at all. But giving too much, or feeding this ‘junk food’ regularly could cause a range of problems.
A wholegrain flour pizza base made yourself at home would be far healthier than a store-bought pizza dough which would be more or less empty calories. You should also watch out for added salt and sugar.
Can Birds Eat Tomato Sauce?
A little bit of the tomato sauce often used to top pizzas will be fine for birds if it is really just tomatoes and herbs perhaps, but nothing else. However, look out for sneaky salt and sugar again, and also make sure that this sauce does not contain onions (more about onions below).
Tomatoes are a good source of a range of vitamins and other nutrients that birds need, so they can be beneficial for their health in a range of ways.
However, they do have high acidity, which can cause digestive issues for some birds. What is more, leaving too many fresh fruits and vegetables in your garden can encourage animals like rats that you likely won’t want to see.
Tomatoes, if these are offered, should only ever be given in moderation, a small amount at a time, and as part of a more balanced diet.
Can Birds Eat Cheese From Pizza Topping?
One ingredient typically found on pizzas that is not a good idea to feed to birds is cheese.
While some hard cheeses can be fine in small amounts and can even be useful for their fat and protein content, there are other cheeses birds should not eat.
Soft cheeses like mozzarella and cream cheeses are higher in lactose, which birds cannot metabolize properly.
If you top your pizza with hard, grated cheese, it might be okay. However, most types of cheese are not healthy for birds to eat.
Parmesan cheese in a shaker bottle bought in the US is typically not real cheese and should not be fed to birds as it may have other problematic ingredients in it. Real Parmesan, however, is just fine.
Can Birds Eat Meat Topping a Pizza?
While some cooked meats may be fine for birds to eat, some like ham and salami can be very salty, and so are really not good for birds.
A little chicken or other less salty, less processed plain meat will typically be fine in small quantities and will provide some protein for birds.
Can Birds Eat the Fruits and Vegetables on a Pizza?
While many vegetables are on the bird-approved list, there are a few that can pose a health risk to them.
Things like peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant on your pizza, along with spinach and any other greens and herbs, are just fine.
Avoid Onions and Garlic
If there are onions or garlic on your pizza, however, then you should not give this to the birds. These ingredients contain sulfur that can cause problems for and harm many birds.
These sulfur compounds can irritate the lining of a bird’s mouth, esophagus, and crop. This can even cause ulcers which can lead to secondary infections.
Avocado Can Be Toxic to Birds
If the pizza had avocado on its ingredient list, this can also be a problem. The issue is that Persea americana contains persin, a fungicidal toxin.
This toxin is present in a small amount in the flesh, skin, and pit of the avocado fruit as well as, to a far higher degree, in the leaves and bark of the tree.
Birds can be particularly susceptible to this toxic compound. When birds eat avocado they can suffer from increased heart rate, myocardial tissue damage, labored breathing, disordered plumage, unrest, weakness, and apathy.
Asparagus- Better Safe Than Sorry
Another topping to raise a note of caution about is asparagus. While some wild birds may not have an issue with this, others may be harmed by its consumption, so it is best not to take the risk.
Is Greasy Pizza a Problem for Birds?
If the pizza is very greasy and slick with oil, this can also pose a risk to birds. Birds do need fat in their diets, but oils can smear onto their feathers and give them problems similar to those that birds have when caught in an oil slick.
It’s best not to leave any overly greasy or oily foods out for birds.
Is It a Good Idea To Feed Pizza to Birds?
Tossing small scraps to garden birds, or feeding a small portion of leftovers to a pet bird won’t be a problem as long as you have looked out for potentially problematic ingredients as mentioned above.
However, feeding pizza to birds more than very occasionally is not a good idea. Remember that garden birds should get most of what they need from the natural environment and garden plants, not from supplemental feeding.
Pet birds should have only occasional additions to their main, balanced diet.
Some pizzas may be just fine – but only as a very occasional treat.