7 Fascinating Facts: Can Birds Eat Cheese? A Comprehensive Guide

Birds can eat some types of cheese in moderation as an occasional treat. Cheese can provide protein, calcium, vitamin B12, and other nutrients. However, some cheeses are not safe for birds due to their lactose and salt content. Birds also cannot digest lactose as well as humans.

Can Birds Eat Cheese Safely?

Most birds can eat small amounts of hard, aged cheeses like cheddar, Swiss, parmesan, and gouda safely. These cheeses are lower in lactose, making them easier to digest. Soft fresh cheeses, moldy cheeses, and those with additives should be avoided as they may cause digestive upset or toxicity.

Are All Types of Cheese Safe For Birds?

No, not all cheeses are safe. Birds should only eat low-lactose, hard cheeses without additives. The table below shows cheese types that are safe or should be avoided.

Safe CheesesUnsafe Cheeses
Aged CheddarSoft cheeses like brie, Camembert
SwissMoldy blue cheeses like gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton
ParmesanCheeses with additives like cheese crackers, Cheez-Its
GoudaCheese with onion/garlic

Choosing Low-Lactose Cheeses for Birds

When Can Birds Eat Cheese choosing cheese for birds, opt for hard, aged cheeses made from grass-fed cow’s milk. These undergo lactic acid fermentation which reduces their lactose content. Soft fresh cheeses have higher lactose levels which birds struggle to digest.

Other Cheeses to Avoid

Avoid feeding birds blue cheeses like gorgonzola as they can contain mold toxins. Also do not offer cheese with added ingredients like onion, garlic, or artificial flavors. Can Birds Eat Cheese These can be toxic for birds.

Cheese Types That Are Safe for Birds

Some good cheese options for birds include: Can Birds Eat Cheese

  • Cheddar
  • Swiss
  • Parmesan
  • Gouda

Aged at least 9 months, these hard cheeses have reduced lactose levels. Start with small 1/4-inch cube sizes to minimize digestive issues. Make sure the cheeses are made from the milk of grass-fed cows as well.

Cheese Types That Are Not Safe for Birds

Cheese Types That Are Not Safe for Birds
Cheese Types That Are Not Safe for Birds

Cheeses to avoid giving birds include: Can Birds Eat Cheese

  • Soft cheeses like brie, mozzarella, Camembert, cream cheese
  • Blue moldy cheeses like gorgonzola, Roquefort, stilton
  • Processed cheese foods with additives
  • Cheese flavored with onion, garlic, or other seasonings
  • Cheese alternatives with xylitol sweetener

These types of cheese may pose toxicity risks or digestive problems for birds due to higher lactose levels, mold toxins, or additives.

How Should I Feed Cheese to Birds?

When offering cheese to birds: Can Birds Eat Cheese

  • Give only small amounts occasionally as a treat
  • Introduce new cheeses slowly
  • Provide adequate bird food and water
  • Remove uneaten cheese within 1 hour

Start with a 1/4-inch cube size and offer just a bite per bird. This gives their digestive system time to adjust. Make cheese no more than 5% of their total food intake.

Birds That Like Cheese

Many backyard birds will eat cheese in moderation including: Can Birds Eat Cheese

  • Robins
  • Sparrows
  • Wrens
  • Great tits
  • Crows
  • Starlings
  • Chickadees
  • Finches
  • Jays

Just be sure to choose an appropriate hard, aged cheese and introduce it slowly. Certain birds like parrots can also eat lactose-free cheese.

Can Birds Eat Cheese and Does It Hold Any Nutritional Benefits?

Can Birds Eat Cheese In moderation, hard cheeses offer useful nutrition for birds such as:

  • Protein – builds muscle and feathers
  • Calcium – for strong bones and beaks
  • Vitamin B12 – supports red blood cell health
  • Amino acids – for enzyme production

Choose cheeses made from the milk of grass-fed cows as they are more nutrient-dense. Cheeses are not substitutes for whole foods but can supplement birds’ diets during harsh weather when natural foods are scarce.

What Types of Birds Like Cheese?

Can Birds Eat Cheese Many common backyard birds will readily eat cheese offerings including:


Robins enjoy cheese along with other high-protein foods like mealworms or wet cat food. Crumble a small bit of cheddar, Swiss, or parmesan cheese out for them.


Wrens appreciate bits of hard cheese among bushes or trees where they feed. Swiss cheese is a good choice for wrens.


Sparrows gather where food scraps are abundant and will try cheese cubes or grated parmesan.


Blackbirds feed on the ground and like mild cheddar or gouda crumbled into small chunks.

Only provide cheese in moderation for birds – no more than a few small pieces at a time per bird.

What Kind of Cheese Can Birds Eat

Birds can safely eat small amounts of hard, aged cheeses such as Swiss, cheddar, parmesan, and gouda. These types of cheese are easier to digest thanks to reduced lactose levels from the aging process. Soft fresh cheeses are too high in lactose for birds.

Can Birds Eat Mozzarella Cheese

No, mozzarella is a soft fresh cheese that birds cannot properly digest. Stick to small bits of hard Swiss, aged cheddar, parmesan, or gouda instead. The lactose in fresh mozzarella is difficult for birds to break down.

Can Birds Eat Cream Cheese

Can Birds Eat Cream Cheese

Avoid offering birds cream cheese or soft spreads. The high fat and lactose content can upset a bird’s digestive system leading to loose droppings or diarrhea. Hard parmesan or cheddar are safer options.

Can Birds Eat White Cheese

If it is an aged, hard “white cheese” like parmesan or gouda, then bits are ok for birds. Soft cheesy spreads, feta, ricotta, or unaged cheeses are too high in lactose even if white. Stick to parmesan, aged gouda, or cheddar.

Can Birds Eat Non-Dairy Cheese

Some birds like parrots can eat non-dairy cheese alternatives made from plant-based ingredients like nuts or coconut oil. Ensure the cheese is not flavored with onion, garlic, or other additives toxic to birds. Check labels for xylitol sweetener which is extremely toxic for birds.

Can Birds Eat Shaker Parmesan Cheese

The shaker can parmesan cheese often contains added anti-caking agents and preservatives that are not healthy for birds. Instead, opt for a small chunk of parmesan cut from a block. This has simpler ingredients.

Can Birds Have Cheese Crackers? Can Birds Eat Cheez-Its

can birds eat cheez its
can birds eat cheez its

No, birds should not eat cheese crackers, Cheez-Its, or similar snack products. These contain additives, salt, and oil that can upset a bird’s digestion. Plus the crackers pose a choking risk. Give plain chunks of hard cheese instead.

Why Can’t Birds Eat Some Kinds of Cheese

Certain types of cheese are not suitable for birds for the following reasons:

High lactose content – Soft fresh cheeses like mozzarella, brie, and ricotta are too high in lactose, the natural sugar in dairy products. Birds lack enough lactase enzymes needed to properly digest lactose which can lead to diarrhea.

Mold toxins – Moldy blue cheeses may contain mycotoxins that impact the bird’s neurological health over time. It is best to avoid Roquefort, gorgonzola, stilton, and other blue-veined cheeses.

Additives – Ingredients like salt, oil, artificial flavors, or xylitol sweeteners found in processed cheese foods can cause toxicity. Onion and garlic seasonings are also toxic for birds.

To minimize these risks, stick to small amounts of hard, aged natural cheeses without additives. Introduce new cheeses gradually to allow bird’s digestion to adjust.

Specific Recommendations For Some Birds

Specific Recommendations For Some Birds

Parrots – Can eat non-dairy or lactose-free cheese sparingly. Ensure no onion, garlic, or other toxic ingredients. Remove uneaten cheese within an hour.

Finches – Finely grate a small bit of aged Swiss or parmesan cheese over finch feed. The protein boosts breeding and molting seasons.

Robins – Offer tiny chunks of mild cheddar for robins to enjoy. Place bits among bushes and trees where they forage.

Sparrows – Sparrows will nibble small cubes of Swiss or parmesan cheese. Scatter a few bits out daily when harsh weather limits natural foods.

Crows – Crows are intelligent, opportunistic birds that will sample cheese. Offer tiny amounts of mild cheddar, parmesan, or Swiss as an occasional snack only.

Seagulls – Do not intentionally feed cheese to seagulls as this encourages begging behavior and overreliance on humans for food. But they will readily consume cheese left unattended outside.

Can Birds Eat Cheese?

Birds can eat small amounts of hard, aged cheeses like Swiss, cheddar, and parmesan safely. These cheeses are easier to digest thanks to reduced lactose and beneficial fermentation. Avoid soft, fresh cheeses high in lactose. Introduce new cheeses gradually and offer just tiny pieces at a time. Cheese can supplement birds’ nutrition needs but not replace proper bird food.

Conclusion: Can Birds Eat Cheese

In conclusion, most backyard birds can tolerate tiny amounts of hard, aged natural cheese like cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss as an occasional treat. These cheeses offer protein, calcium, and other nutrients to supplement birds’ diet, especially during winter. However, cheese feeding does carry some risks so certain rules apply. Only provide cheese in extreme moderation, avoid soft fresh cheeses high in lactose, and never offer cheese flavored with toxic additives. Feed a variety of nutritious whole foods and restrict cheese to an occasional snack at most. This allows birds to gain benefits without adverse health effects. With some basic precautions, many birds can enjoy hard cheese safely.


Can all birds eat dairy products like cheese?

No. While most backyard birds can tolerate small bits of hard cheese, the lactose and fat can upset sensitive digestive systems. Birds lack enough lactase enzymes to properly digest the lactose sugar in dairy products. Moderate amounts of fermented, aged hard cheeses are safer thanks to lower lactose levels from processing. But cheese should never form a main part of birds’ diets.

What type of cheese is best for birds?

The best cheeses for birds are hard, aged natural cheeses like aged cheddar, parmesan, and Swiss. Through lactic acid fermentation, these cheeses have reduced lactose content making them easier to digest. Their firm texture also reduces choking risk. Go for cheeses aged over 9 months made from the milk of grass-fed cows for purity and nutrition density. Always avoid soft fresh cheeses, blue cheeses, or cheese foods with additives.

Can birds eat cheese every day?

No, birds should not eat cheese daily as overconsumption may lead to diarrhea, nutritional imbalance, or obesity over time. Cheese is high in fat and salt relative to birds’ needs. Offer tiny pieces of hard cheese just 2-3 times per week at most. Their main diet should still consist of formulated bird feed, fruits, vegetables, healthy table foods, and insects.

Why can birds eat cheese but not milk?

Milk contains a sugar called lactose that birds struggle to digest properly due to inadequate lactase enzymes. However, during the cheese-making process beneficial bacteria ferment the lactose converting it to lactic acid. This pre-digests the lactose making hard aged cheeses easier on birds’ digestive systems. So while milk is too high in lactose for birds, fermented harder cheeses have much reduced levels.

What cheeses should birds avoid?

Birds should avoid eating soft fresh cheeses like cottage cheese, cream cheese, ricotta, and mozzarella. Their high moisture content also poses a greater spoilage risk. Moldy blue cheeses may contain mycotoxins so also avoid those. Processed cheeses with additives, flavors, salt, or sweeteners are also unsafe. Do not offer imitation cheese products made with xylitol sweetener as this is toxic for birds.

Can birds eat cheese made from sheep or goat milk?

Yes, birds can eat natural cheese made from the milk of sheep and goats just like cow milk cheeses. Just opt for hard, aged varieties lower in lactose. However, the strongest and most pungent goat cheeses are not suitable. Check labels and avoid any cheese with onion, garlic, or other additives toxic to birds too. Introduce new cheeses gradually to check for tolerance.

Can birds eat cheese substitutes?

Some birds like parrots can tolerate small amounts of non-dairy cheese made from plant-based ingredients like coconut oil or nuts. Ensure the cheese alternative does not contain any additives toxic to birds like onion, garlic, or xylitol sweetener. Also, check fat and salt content as highly processed products are less healthy. Only offer cheese sparingly as part of a balanced diet.

What about lactose-free cheese – can birds eat that?

Yes, lactose-free cheese products are suitable for birds sensitive to dairy as they contain added lactase enzymes to help break down residual lactose from processing. However, some lactose-free cheese contains milk protein so may still trigger allergies in birds. Non-dairy vegan cheeses are another option but also check labels for any bird toxic ingredients. Always supervise birds when offering new foods.

Can baby birds eat cheese?

No, young chicks and nestlings should not eat cheese until fully feathered and weaned onto adult foods. Baby bird’s digestive system is too immature. Parents will meet all nutritional needs while raising young. Once fledged onto an adult diet, small amounts of hard cheese can be offered to juvenile birds but introduced slowly in case of sensitivity.

About the Author: Hudaibia

My name is Hudaibia with the profound passion for our feathered friends. Birds have captivated my heart and mind since childhood. Now I share my avian devotion through my website, mybirdfeed.com.