Doves are a common sight in backyards throughout the United States. They like to go where the food is, and although they primarily feed on seeds and insects, they will eat just about anything that they can find, including things like discarded pieces of bread. But can doves eat bread? Technically, yes. However, just because they can eat bread does not mean that they should.

Here is everything that you need to know about whether doves can and should eat bread.


Why Bread Is Not the Best Food Choice for Doves

Most commercial bread is highly processed and far removed from a dove’s natural diet. Their bodies are not designed to process human food. Doves that eat bread regularly may get used to digesting it, but those that eat it infrequently can develop digestion issues and nutrition deficiencies.

Even doves that are used to eating bread scraps should not necessarily be doing so. Bread is usually filled with grains that have been stripped of their husks, which is where most of the nutrition is found. Bread is low in protein, which promotes healthy bones and wings for effective flight. Bread also contains little fat—the opposite of most foods that doves eat in the wild.

Bread is mostly carbohydrates, which is important for birds in small amounts. However, a carb-heavy diet will lack other nutrients needed to thrive, let alone survive. Eating too much bread could even lead to obesity and other health problems, like poor circulation.

The bottom line is that most bread products might fill a bird’s belly, but do not provide the nutrition necessary for a long and healthy life.

ring neck dove eating
Image Credit: Piqsels

When Bread Is a Decent Food Option for Doves

Although most bread is not a good food option for doves, some types of bread are decent options for occasional snacks. If you want to feed bread to doves that frequent your backyard or that you see at the park, look for options that are made of whole grains, not white flour. Bread that contains seeds is the best option.

Bread that contains nuts and dried fruits is also decent, but only if it does not contain added sugars. No bread that contains a list of artificial ingredients or preservatives should be offered to doves. It is important to keep in mind that even “healthy” bread options should be fed to doves sparingly, as it should make up an extremely small portion of their overall diet.

Making Bread Healthier for Doves

There are a few things that you can do to make any bread that you feed to a dove healthier for the bird overall. First, consider spreading peanut, almond, or sunflower butter on the crust before throwing it out for the doves. Fruit marmalades that contain no extra sugars can also be spread on bread to increase its nutritional value for birds like doves. Other options to consider include:

  • Dip the bread in beef or chicken broth.
  • Crumble toasted bread, and mix it with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
  • Make a sandwich by placing mealworms or dried insects between two pieces. Leave the sandwich out for doves to pick at.
  • Wrap fresh slices of apples or pieces of melon in a slice of bread before offering it to birds.

Most of these options are easy to utilize and should help keep the doves that you see in your yard or at the park happy and healthy for many years to come.

bread with seeds
Image Credit: Piqsels

The Best Time to Feed Bread to Doves

There is no “good” time to feed bread to doves.

Feeding bread to doves during the winter months will discourage them from foraging and hunting for other, more nutritious food options available. During the summer months, doves have ample insects and seeds to find, so feeding them bread will not distract them from their wild food foraging as much.


Final Comments

Doves are beautiful animals that we should respect. Feeding bread to doves is okay in moderation, but it is never a good idea to offer a regular supply of the stuff to doves, no matter when and where. Certain berries, nuts, seeds, and dried fruits are excellent snack options that should take precedence over bread.

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Featured Image Credit by Piqsels