Updated at: 28-07-2022 - By: Jane Brody

Maggots should not be among the strange items you feed the birds in your garden since they pose a health risk.

Never give maggots, either living or dead, to a wild bird. Maggots are often toxic to birds. Maggots pose a threat to wild birds because they feed on decaying matter, such offal, that the birds in your garden might eat. Salmonella poisoning is a serious problem that can spread to people from infected animals.

If you have a bait tub full of maggots for fishing and want to feed them to the birds in your backyard, you might consider it a success.

However, there are no health benefits to be received from eating maggots because they do not eat a balanced diet and instead feast on offal (low-quality internal organs).

In turn, the offal can be harmful to the health of little backyard birds to the point of disease and even death if they consume it.

The same holds true for birds, with dried mealworms being the healthiest option despite being the most expensive. One reason is that mealworms are less offensive to the senses and more pleasant to be around because of their diet of plant stuff.

You may not think it’s a big deal if you give maggots to the birds in your yard, but eventually the birds will suffer if you do.

If you care about the health of the birds in your yard, it’s best to avoid giving them maggots and stick to their other preferred food source, mealworms, either fresh or dried.

Maggots unsafe for wild birds

Do Birds Eat Maggots

For the sake of the birds in our backyards, it’s important to remember that maggots are toxic to wild animals.

Even if a person ate a few maggots, like those from a fisherman’s maggot pot, they wouldn’t hurt themselves. However, if you started feeding the birds in your yard maggots every day, it may lead to major health problems down the line.

Maggots are a potential health risk since they are often raised on offal, which can then be polluted before consumption.

The comparable mealworm is a much healthier option because it is fed only veggies.

Furthermore, maggots can be coloured with chemicals that have a fatal effect on the organs of wild birds.

Hygiene issues

Many common backyard birds consume insects, and mealworms provide a healthier, more hygienic alternative to traditional wild bird food.

Maggots, on the other hand, can pose problems for birds since they are bred on offal in a factory or farm with routinely inadequate health standards.

The end result is that maggots can consume not just lethal levels of germs, but amazingly enough, those bacteria can spread to humans.

Maggots can become contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis and Escherichia coli, as stated by Healthline.

While this is often true of wild maggots — which eat garbage and carcasses — cultured maggots would be much cleaner.

However, it is not hygienic to touch maggots and then put your hands in your mouth or on your face.

Backyard birds will eat maggots

Do Birds Eat Maggots-2

Even if you’re fishing in your backyard, you might get a visit from some common yard birds looking to eat some maggots out of your bait bowl.

The only personal knowledge I have in this area comes from hearing of an encounter my father had when fishing with a Wren who came close in the hopes of snatching a few maggots.

The Wren got its share of maggots from my dad, who did what any decent human being would do in such a predicament.

It’s not unheard of, either; backyard birds of many kinds, including Robins, Orioles, Sparrows, Chickadees, and a wide variety of others, often visit the fishing holes of thousands of anglers every year in search of maggots.

In contrast, maggots are often consumed by ground-feeding wild birds like pigeons and crows because these birds prefer them to the superior and safer alternative of dried or live mealworms.

Since this is the case, I would stop worrying about maggots and instead focus on providing my backyard birds with mealworms, either fresh or dry, or even dried mealworms that have been rehydrated for a juicier treat.

Mealworms better option

Stay away from the maggots that most people would consider disgusting and unsanitary because of the usual association between maggots and decomposing stuff.

However, mealworms are significantly more enjoyable to work with because they are created specifically for the purpose of feeding wild animals and pets.

The smell of maggots is not pleasant, and it tends to get worse as time passes.

The best alternative would be mealworms, however they aren’t technically alternatives because backyard birds that naturally eat insects only eat mealworms when they are provided by humans.

A specialized mealworm bird feeder can keep things neat while being easily accessible from pet stores or grocery stores.

Why not make life easy for all birds by scattering a handful of live or dried mealworms on the lawn or patio for the birds that don’t frequent bird feeders?

Never add maggots to bird feeders or bird tables, as doing so would be unsanitary.

Official citation or studies to quote

Do Birds Eat Maggots-3

Having stated that, my decision to not provide maggots to wild birds stems from my own investigation rather than official publications or studies.

In any case, I am confident in my recommendation, and I back it up by never giving the birds in my backyard any maggots, regardless of quality or origin.

Birds will consume maggots from any dead animal they come across, not only those left by anglers by the side of a river or lake.

The poisoning of birds is a real possibility, with potentially fatal consequences.

While the focus of my guidance is on the avian health effects of maggot consumption, human health is also an important consideration.

Because maggots can spread Salmonella, not practicing good hygiene when handling a tub full of them might result in sickness and diarrhea.

Leave maggots alone, as they are not very sanitary, and consider switching to mealworms instead.


Yes, maggots are consumed by wild birds; spotting a fisherman offering them to a bird while fishing on the riverbanks is not uncommon.

However, this fact alone does not justify the feeding of maggots to your backyard birds.

Wild birds can contract a wide variety of diseases from eating maggots that haven’t been properly cleaned, but we’ll never know the full extent of those effects.

However, it can be harmful to the health of birds and humans alike due to the presence of Salmonella and other toxins.

Maggots, when farmed, eat things like offal that might be harmful to birds if they are consumed, thus what they eat can be worse.

Even while backyard birds will eat maggots if you give them to them, you shouldn’t.

Then why not go above and above by also providing mealworms, either dry or live and risk-free to give to wild birds.

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