For bird owners and people who feed wild birds, it’s important to know what food and drinks may be harmful to offer birds. Certain foods may be toxic and can even kill them. Others have the potential to harm birds in more subtle ways.
While sparkling water is a harmless and healthy drink for people, giving carbonated water to birds may have dire consequences. Sparkling water is harmful to birds simply because of what makes it “sparkle” – carbonation.
The carbon dioxide in sparkling water can cause bloating in birds’ stomachs. It may be difficult for birds to expel that gas, especially if consumed in larger quantities. With gas built up inside of them, birds may experience internal discomfort. Prolonged gas buildup may even lead to physical harm.
Can Birds Burp?
When humans drink carbonated beverages, we’re able to expel the gases from our bodies by burping. Many people say that birds cannot burp, but that may not be the case. Scientists believe that birds are likely capable of burping – it’s just that they have little reason to do so.
Birds have different gut bacteria than humans. When they digest food, their stomach microbiome does not produce very much gas at all, meaning they don’t naturally build up gas in their bodies. Without the introduction of unnatural foods and beverages for birds to consume, there is really no reason for birds to burp or fart.
Because birds don’t naturally burp, there isn’t much research on the subject. Birds may be able to burp to relieve themselves of carbon dioxide buildup from carbonated beverages, but we don’t know for sure. Since it would be unnatural for them to do so, we shouldn’t rely on the idea that they might be able to. For this reason, you should not give carbonated water to birds.
What Would Happen if a Bird Drank Sparkling Water?
There is a rumor floating around on the internet which claims that birds’ bodies may explode if they were to drink carbonated water. Sounds a little ridiculous — right? While it would be cruel to conduct an experiment to determine if this were true, we can infer the answer by taking quick look at a birds’ anatomy.
Birds have an esophagus leading up from their crop, which is an organ that food travels through before reaching the stomach. The crop is where food is stored to later be regurgitated for feeding baby birds. Because they are able to regurgitate food matter up from the crop and through the esophagus, it is possible that they are able to push gas back up as well.
Regardless of the plausibility that birds could expel gas if necessary, it would be a bad idea to give a bird sparkling water. As previously stated, gas buildup could cause severe discomfort and may even physically harm the bird’s internal organs.
Wild Birds vs. Pet Birds: Can Either Have Sparkling Water?
You should not give carbonated beverages to wild birds or pet birds. Carbonation buildup may lead to discomfort, stress, and potential harm for birds. Birds’ anatomy is similar from species to species, and what harms one bird is likely to harm another in the same way.
Interestingly, certain pets can drink carbonated water without issue. Cats can drink sparkling water in small amounts if it is unflavored. However, always consult your vet before offering any pet a new food or drink that is intended for people only.
Both wild birds and pet birds should have clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing. Unless your water quality is notably poor, tap water is perfectly fine. If you are comfortable with drinking the water yourself, it should be good for birds as well.
May people who use bird feeders to feed wild birds forget that birds also need water. Offering a reliable source of drinking water could help attract a greater number and variety of birds to your yard. This still holds true in winter, when many species of birds migrate. Some non-migratory birds will stick around and may struggle to find a good water source. Installing a heated bird bath or fountain is a great option.
Can Toucans Drink Sparkling Water?
Like any other bird, is not natural for toucans to drink sparkling water. Excessive buildup of gas remains the primary concern. While it is possible that toucans may be able to burp up the gas, not enough research has been done to provide a definitive answer. Without more evidence, it is best to avoid offering sparkling water to your toucan.
Can Cockatiels Have Sparkling Water?
Similar to toucans, cockatiels should not be given sparkling water. This commonly beloved pet bird should only be given fresh, clean, flat water. A better alternative would be to offer your bird some fresh and natural fruit juice. Certain fruit juices contain high concentrations of vitamin A, which is important for bird health.
Can You Use Carbonated Water for Hummingbird Feeders?
Sparkling water would likely lead to the same ill effects for hummingbirds as other wild birds. However, it is unlikely that they would drink it to begin with. Most wild birds require both food and drinking water, but hummingbirds usually get both from nectar.
That doesn’t mean hummingbirds don’t need a source of clean water. Hummingbirds use bird baths, fountains and other basins for bathing. You can attract more hummingbirds by adding these features to your backyard hummingbird feeding station.
Instead of sparkling water, offer hummingbirds nectar. You can make the traditional recipe at home with one part sugar and four parts water. The Audubon Society has a simple recipe that is easy to make and safe for all species of hummingbirds.
Can Birds Have Soda, Beer, Coffee or Other Human Beverages?
You should avoid offering soda and other beverages manufactured only for human consumption to birds. It is difficult to predict how some of the ingredients in these drinks will affect a bird’s health. That means you probably shouldn’t try it if you value the health of your pet bird.
However, we do know that ingredients like caffeine, excessive sugar, and artificial sweeteners are not good for birds.
Even in small doses, caffeine can be dangerous for birds. It may cause erratic or aggressive behavior and could lead to serious physical harm. Rapid heartbeat, seizures and even cardiac arrest are possible outcomes. Avoid giving birds coffee, energy drinks, or soda for this reason.
Sugar is not inherently bad for birds. Many wild birds and pet birds consume some quantities of sugar as a normal part of their diets. The difference is that these sugars are typically consumed in much smaller quantities and from natural sources – such as fruits. Refined sugars, like those found in soda, do not have the same nutritional value as that which comes from natural, varied sources.
Excessive sugar consumption is bad for birds in the same way that it is bad for humans. A small amount of occasional refined sugars will not harm the bird in the long term. Too much could lead to a variety of health problems, such as obesity.
Artificial sweeteners, like those found in diet soda, are not an appropriate ingredient to offer birds either. While they are not well-studied with birds, sweeteners like aspartame, acesulfame, sucralose and neotame may contribute unnecessarily to diseases such as heart disease or even stroke in birds.
Is Carbonated Water Okay for Birds?
Sparkling water may be a refreshing and hydrating beverage for humans, but it’s simply not the right choice for birds. Birds do not naturally consume carbonated water. The potential for enjoyment on the birds’ part is not worth the associated risks. Birds that drink carbonated water may experience stomach discomfort, and it may be difficult for them to relieve themselves of excessive gas buildup.
Since we do not know for sure if birds are capable of relieving significant buildup of carbon dioxide in their bodies, sparkling water is best left for people to enjoy.