At the latest when the first frost comes, feeding aids are often vital for birds. Oatmeal is a common food used to feed birds. The expert explains what is allowed and what problems can arise.

German law

There is no German law prohibiting the feeding of oatmeal to wild birds. But there are laws that give landlords, neighbors and cities the power to enforce bans on bird feeding under certain conditions.

  • cities

Children in particular love packing oatmeal and feeding ducks in the park or pigeons in the station forecourt. Here, the German law allows cities and municipalities to impose a feeding ban. This is usually due to the fact that overfeeding and wrong feed can, in the worst case, lead to the death of the birds. In particular, feeding ducks in public waters is usually prohibited.

  • landlord

In principle, a landlord cannot determine at his own discretion when who may feed which bird species in the garden or on the balcony. This means that it is generally permitted to feed birds with oat flakes as long as the flakes do not cause significant soiling on neighboring balconies and complaints from other tenants are received as a result. In addition, landlords can prohibit feeding if this tempts birds to build their nests in unsuitable places, such as in immediately adjacent gutters or even on facade insulation. In short: as long as no serious soiling and damage is provoked, landlords can never prohibit the feeding of birds – exception: feeding pigeons.

  • neighbours

Oatmeal is a popular food among many wild animals. This does not always please the feeder and neighbors can also express their displeasure here. Especially if the oat product has gotten wet, it quickly attracts rats. If the flakes are provided with additives that rot and create an unpleasant odour, neighbors can at least demand proper and trouble-free feeding – especially if mold, for example, poses a risk of infection, which in the worst case could even pose a risk to people.

Oatmeal for birds

In principle, when feeding birds with the flakes, it is important to pay attention to which species want to be fed with it. A distinction is made between grain eaters and soft food types. Bird species that tolerate soft food such as oat flakes well are:

  • Zaunkönige (Troglodytes troglodytes)
  • Amseln (Turdus merula)
  • Rotkehlchen (Erithacus rubecula)
  • Heckenbraunellen (Prunella modularis)
Note: If pure grain eaters get hold of the flake food, this can lead to serious illnesses because they can swell up in the stomach and stick together in the throat area, causing suffocation. Therefore: do not feed to hard food birds.

feed hygiene

Bird lovers can have problems if the flake food is scattered freely and is “left to its own devices”. Apart from the visual contamination from leftover feed, the hygiene aspect plays a major role. In order to avoid problems with the landlord, the neighbors and the law enforcement officers and not to expose yourself to any health hazards, it is important to pay attention to the following details:

  • Use demarcated feeding sites (bird feeders or bird feeders)
  • Dispose of leftovers once a day
  • Clean feeding stations at least once a week
  • Remove surrounding bird droppings as they can transmit diseases
Note: Dry food makes you thirsty. If flake food is offered, it is important to ensure that there is a well-stocked water point in the immediate vicinity.

Muesli with oatmeal

In many households, the oat flakes are only included in ready-to-eat muesli meals. They should never be fed. As a rule, ready meals are always provided with additives and, above all, with preservatives for long-term durability. However, these can cause life-threatening situations in birds. Sugar & Co. are an absolute taboo when it comes to feeding birds. Anyone who wants to feed the flakes should therefore always provide them in their pure state without additives.


Melted flakes can also be used instead of oats. These are made from oatmeal. Both can be enriched with other foods or replaced with alternatives, with birds happily accepting a change. Good possible alternatives and additions are above all:

  • raisins
  • Poppy
  • bran
  • Mixed in chopped fruit or provided as larger pieces for picking
  • Enrichment with fat such as margarine or vegetable oil (recommended for fat feeding, especially in winter)
  • Ready mixed feed from pet stores

fledglings and nestlings

Oat and melted flakes are not for young birds and nestlings. The swallowing reflex and the stomach function are not yet well developed to absorb and digest the flakes well. In addition, they need a lot of proteins and fats for their development, which they only get by feeding them insects.

feeding in summer

While experts recommend feeding birds year-round, feeding only oats and melted flakes in the summer is discouraged. If you want to make it easier for birds to eat and do good outside of the frosty months, you can do this in other ways that are more advantageous than just oatmeal or melted flakes. The following is worth knowing:

  • Feeding in summer makes birds expectant (contrary to their nature, they reduce foraging, so feed less)
  • Higher risk of illness due to the formation of pathogens due to high temperatures
  • Up to the onset of winter/frost, animal feed is vital for hibernation
  • Plant insect-friendly plants in the garden bed or on the balcony (attract insects for self-sufficiency)
  • Be sure to add fat to the flakes in the fall

frequently asked Questions

How much oatmeal to feed depends on whether other feed is available and how many birds are using it. Since feeding stations should be checked daily, it is easy to see whether all the food has gone or leftovers. As a rule of thumb, start with one handful of flakes and only increase portions as needed.

The best way to do this is to use a feeding place where pigeons cannot get to the feed due to their size. Small bird feeders with low access are ideal. Another option is to create an easily kinkable/breakable approach/seat. At least adult pigeons weigh at least two kilograms. A thin twig holds each robin, but it breaks on pigeons.

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