Pigeons will eat popcorn and it is nutritious, but it should be restricted to specifically plain popcorn.
Corn vs Popcorn
The question here is do pigeons eat popcorn so it needs to be specified that the answer will relate to the popped version of corn.
When talking about popcorn in its un-popped, hard kernel form, whether or not a bird is able to eat it is dependent on its size. Medium to larger sized birds like jays, woodpeckers, any of the crow family and pigeons are able to consume ‘raw’ kernels.
To make the process of eating a hard kernel much easier, you might witness a pigeon soaking them in water until they soften, or even peck at the kernels for long enough that they pop open to reveal a smaller but softer interior.
Popcorn does not occur in the wild. Popcorn is a processed product. It is the application of heat to corn kernels that makes the water in them expand causing them to “pop”.
As it is a processed product, the only way for a pigeon to eat popcorn is for it to be provided by its owner.
It is unlikely that feral pigeons would find the opportunity to eat popcorn because it is not one of the most common rubbish food found in the street discarded by humans, but they will eat it if they come across it.
Pigeons and Popcorn
All types of pigeon in a domestic habitat will eat popcorn fed to them by their owners.
The important thing is to provide the right kind of popcorn. The best popcorn is that which is simply air-popped kernels. Plain, unadulterated kernels are easily sourced.
Although it may sound convenient, microwavable popcorn is best avoided because it is rare to find a variety that is just pure corn.
Also, avoid every type of popcorn that has any kind of additive or flavourings. If you look at the supermarket shelves these days, there is an incredible array of flavours and coatings. Any kind of sweet or salty popcorn made for human taste buds is going to be an absolute overload of sugar or sodium for a pigeon.
Is Popcorn Good for Pigeons?
Corn is very nutritious and even when popped, is a whole grain which means there is a greater nutritional value than if processed corn is eaten.
Corn is one of the plant world’s greatest sources of fibre and fibre helps to keep the pigeon’s gastrointestinal tract functioning well. One function, for example, is to manage gastro toxins to maintain optimal gut health.
It also contains carbohydrates which a pigeon needs for energy (in exactly the same way as humans) as well as protein and a small amount of fat.
Plain popcorn will provide a good amount of the vitamins a pigeon needs. The minerals, vitamins and nutrients in popcorn are:
- Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
- Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
Another important nutritional fact about popcorn is that it is high in polyphenols. These are plant compounds that offer various health benefits. Mainly, polyphenols have superior antioxidant properties that protect cells from free radicals that can do harm in many ways to the detriment of the health of any bird.
Adding Popcorn to the Pigeon Diet
Pigeons are granivorous birds. The pigeon beak is designed for the consumption of seeds, grains, nuts and berries.
Corn is a grain and one of the best pigeon foods. It is low in crude fibre, easily digestible and one of the fattiest of all the grains. Many proprietary foods for pigeons will contain up to 25 per cent corn but this will be in the form of kernels and flakes.
But there is no reason why you shouldn’t feed popcorn to your pigeons as a healthy snack. Pigeons are intelligent birds and appreciate the stimulation of something new to tackle. So alongside chopped fruit and chopped vegetables, occasionally add a treat of popcorn to your bird feeders.
The bottom line is that pigeons enjoy popcorn, and it is very good for them as a nutritional snack.
You must always make sure that it is stovetop popcorn that has been fully popped and does not contain any additional seasonings, whether salty, sweet, spicy or otherwise!