There seems to be little information available on which wild birds will eat dry dog food.  However, I suspect the list of birds that dine on dry dog food is longer than we may realize. The problem is few people have experimented offering this food to their feathered neighbors.   

         I have rarely intentionally fed dog food to birds. However, on a number of occasions I have seen American crows and common grackles toting off chunks of dog food left behind by our family dogs.  In some cases, the birds carried the food to a nearby birdbath where they thoroughly doused the chunks of food in water before trying to eat them.

        Others have reported house sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, common ground doves, eastern bluebirds, blue jays, and European starlings will eat dry dog food. 

American Crow feeding on dog food.

        I honestly believe if dry dog food were offered more often in feeders, the list of birds known to eat this unusual food offering would be considerably longer. 

       When you think about it, there is no reason why dry dog food should not be popular with wild birds.  Major brands of dog food contain protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals.  In fact, some dog foods are probably more nutritionally balanced than some of the food they typically consume.   

        Why don’t you join me in this mini experiment?  Perhaps we will learn something about the merits of feeding dry dog food to birds. 



  1. I like this idea. Once or twice I have seen sparrows stealing cat food from under my carport where I feed the feral cats.

    • Martha,

      Thanks for letting me knows about sparrows eating dogfood. Were they house sparrows, chipping sparrows or what?


  2. Many years ago, i raised up a fledgling american crow by feeding him a mash made from Purina puppy chow and water. He grew up to be a great free range pet until the end of that summer, at which time he moved off to known whereabouts.

    • A Mr and Mrs Cardinal have been eating Purina dog chow out of my dog’s food bowl since the winter. I just worry it will hurt them. It has to be a big portion of their daily diet

  3. I filled my sunflower seed feeder with regular dog kibble and I have ruffled titmouse, chickadees and junco. Nov.09 2019. A good way not to waste dog food as mine has a skin allergy and needed special food.

    • Birds come up on our porch and eat the dry dog food. Cardinals, blue jays and many other kind. I’ve even had a cardinal to come to my window to let me know they were out. So much fun to watch them. The dog doesn’t bother them

    • Cardinal Fan,

      Thanks for the information. I would never have thought cardinals would regularly eat dry dog food.


  4. I just observed an American Robin eating dry dogfood that had been softened by the rain. It surprised me as I only thought crows ate it.

  5. Every end of Spring / beginning of Summer we have Common Grackles that will eat our dry dog food all day everyday. It is so hilarious to watch. My boys get a kick out of it and say “the bird is stealing our dogs food again”. The Grackles land on the railing of our deck and scope pf the area around first to make sure no one is watching and then the get closer and closer to the food and finally grab a piece and fly away only to come right back for more. These Grackles have been chowing down and eating them dry. We have the Canadae All Stages of Life dog food.

    • Wow, That is quite a story. I have never heard them eating so much food over such a long period of time. While grackles sometime eat dog food here, American crows are the birds that eat the most.

  6. We go to the park where everyone feeds the birds and water turtles bread. We accidentally bought a large bag of puppy food instead of our dogs normal food. So i brought it to the park and ducks, ibis, seagulls and other birds couldn’t get enough. They were fighting over it, stepping on the turtles backs to get it. I don’t think the poor turtles got any.

    • That is a great story–it makes me convinced that gull will just about anything. I will add sparrows and gulls to my list of critters that eat dogfood. Thanks for sharing it.


  7. I was trying to make friends with our neighborhood crows, so I did some research…one tip suggested that crows like dry dog food so I started leaving some scattered about amongst the other nuts & seeds that I feed. The crows DO eat the dog food, and I can confirm that they’ll soak it a bit in water first (I also leave out a shallow dish of water every day). We have the common wild birds that one might see in a suburban setting: crows, scrub jays, grackles, house & song sparrows, starlings, juncos, and occasionally house finches & goldfinches. The only other birds I’ve witnessed partaking of the dogfood, besides the crows, are the starlings (of course 🙄). I’m a stay-at-home mother so I have lots of time to observe my feeding area everyday–however, I do think that there may be other birds trying the dog food & I’m just not witnessing it when it happens.

  8. I have a lot of wild birds (scrub jays, thrashers, pine siskin, savannah sparrows, chickadees, titmouse, towhees, etc) that love eating dog food.

    I’ve been feeding dry puppy kibble (small size) softened in water for the past 2 years.

    No mess when placed in a large ceramic 20” diameter plate. I don’t have to clean up empty seed husks or chase squirrels.

  9. Do you think there would be any problem with trying this out with kibble that is very old (as it’s been sitting in my garage for over a year because I didn’t want to throw it away at the beginning when I discovered raw feeding/cooking for my large dog)? I hate to waste a 40 lb bag but if it would be a hazard for the birds, in the trash it goes.

  10. I ended up with a 25 lb bag of dry dog food my picky eater wouldn’t eat. It was expensive and a real waste to throw it away. I couldn’t return it either. So after kicking myself for not buying the 7 lb bag instead of the 25 lb bag, I read the ingredients and thought it’s mostly grains, beet pulp, and chicken by-products along with some healthy vitamins and minerals. So I’ve been putting it out for the birds! First the blue jays discovered it, and then juncos. I kept watching and a little titmouse flew off with a piece! Then a squirrel came along and we’ll, they have to eat, too!

    • Crows, juncos, blue jays and a titmouse eating dry dogfood. Who would have ever thought such a diverse group of critters would eat dry dogfood.?


  11. A group of blue jays have made our dog’s food bowl their feeder for years. When she sees them, she chases them away but they always come back for more. It’s high protein dry dog food.

  12. I observed a woodpecker eating dog food. He takes it into the tree and puts it in a hole..then he breaks it and eats.. after he enjoys nector from my humming bird feeder… Amazing to watch.

  13. Sarah,
    What a super observation. Do you know what species of woodpecker has such odd eating habits?


  14. We live up north and my mother started feeding the magpies unshelled peanuts years ago, but there were so many she started buying dog food as well to lower her cost and now in the winters we get dozens of magpies, several ravens, pigeons, a sterling jay (or two?) and more recently lots of starlings! She also has a feeder full of sunflower seeds for chickadees, and a couple other smaller birds I’m not familiar with so I’ve never seen them eat the dog food, but the pigeons will go after the feeder if there’s no dog food/peanuts on the ground and it drives her crazy! 😅

  15. Drought in SE Arizona has been hard on wild birds the last few years. We have put out several varieties of pet kibble for birds. I’ll list the ones partaking of the kibble… crows, roadrunners, Gambel’s and scaled quail, dove, finches, all kinds of little sparrow type birds and cactus wrens. I’m sure there are others that we don’t see. The cactus wrens have enjoyed the kibble so much they have built several big football shaped nests right out front in big mesquite trees. I wish I could share photos of those nests.

  16. I´ve been feeding the local crows and ravens with dog kibble that I soak in water for about half an hour before serving. They love it, and I really enjoy watching them.

    I have seen some of my “return customers” pick up a few pieces of kibble and bring it over to new/younger crows, if the newcomers are too scared to approach the kibble plate (Because white platters are veeery scary for some crows apperantly).

  17. I have practically trained wild ravens with dog kibble. They will do tricks for them. I use a grain/poultry free varuety

  18. I’m from NZ. I have a common blackbird that was stealing the leftover dog food. So, I started leaving a couple of pieces out for him in the garden (not in the dog dish on the back porch). Now he arrives twice daily and chirps at me for his food. He lets me get quite close to him and has just discovered he can find me (and remind me it’s treat time) near the window in the kitchen!

    • Joy,

      Wow! What a wonderful story. It sounds like you are dealing with a smart bird. I have never heard of a bird learning how and where to get food from humans. Keep me abreast of any other interesting stories about you and your encounters with wildlife.


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