Is it OK to feed maggots to birds?

Hello everyone, I'm a newbie and have loads of ?'s which will probably seem very silly, so apologies.

I've got some mealworms on order for the birds when they are nesting etc, but they are dearer than maggots from the fishing shop. Is it ok to feed live maggots? I did wonder as they are smaller than mealworms whether they'd be ok for the babies in the nests, when they are there of cors!!!!

 I didn't get to be stupid by being blonde, I was stupid enough to pay to be blonde!!!

  • Hi Lyndsey and welcome to the forum!

    It is best to avoid feeding maggots as they can be fed offal and things that could be contaminated, which could cause harm to birds if they are eaten by them.  Some also are dyed and the chemicals used could have negative effects.

    Mealworms are fed on vegetable matter which makes them a much safer option and are bred to be eaten by birds and exotic pets so the standards of hygine are usually considerably higher so though they cost more they are a considerably better option.  They are also fine for baby birds to eat.

    If you are wanting to save a bit of money you could try breeding mealworms, there is a guide on breeding your own here -



    Millie & Fly the Border Collies

  • Hi Lyndseypops

    I think mealworms are much cleaner than maggots.  Not sure if this is correct or not, but as maggots feed on rotten meat, they can become contaminated whereas mealworms are fed on oatmeal so are safe.  I'm sure someone with more knowledge than me will answer your question soon.



  • In reply to KatTai:

    I am no expert, but I have read on one forum that maggots may contain salmonella so should not be given to birds. I know there is a thread for cheap mealworms, that someone bought from ebay. I think Sparrow has ordered some and the quality was good.



    This is the link to the thread about meal worms

    I've learned that I still have a lot to learn...

  • In reply to KatTai:

    Hello Kattai, thanks for the welcome,

    Am glad overall view is not to feed maggots. My brother had some for fishing so he gave me the leftovers. They did attract my first Great Tit but he goes for the live mealies first. I didn't really like the maggots they were sorta mushy!

    I've got dried mealworm which I soak for 30 mins in warm water before I put them out and also have live ones. I bought live from the pet shop but thought they were very expensive so ordered some RSPB ones which are now in my outside fridge BH and kids didn't seem to keen on them being in kitchen fridge - can't imagine why!!!! I kept the container from the pet shop ones and have a carrot in it with oats, crushed weetabix and well ground bran flakes and they've been going for a fortnight or so. My youngest (15) and I pulled out some c shaped dead looking ones as I read they were pupae(?) so will try to breed. I'm keeping these under the kitchen table where they can't be seen!!!

    The cheapest I can find online are 500g for £9.75 inc postage.

     I didn't get to be stupid by being blonde, I was stupid enough to pay to be blonde!!!

  • Hi Lyndseypops

    Welcome to the forum. :-)

    I wouldn't feed maggots to wild birds either, but I sometimes buy live mealworms.

    As I was placing a wild bird food order with Jacobi Jayne I added some live mealworms to that order and I must admit that they are the best I've ever bought. They are all a consistent size and colour, and none are white (starting to pupate). They cost me £5.90 for 1 tub, and if you only buy live mealworms they are 95p P&P.

    If you order them with anything else, they dispatch the order that day for next day delivery and the delivery charge is £1.75.

    I was really pleased and I like their bird food anyway.

    Best wishes Chris

    Best wishes Chris

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  • In reply to Woodpecker:

    Hello Woodpecker

    thanks for the welcome. I've checked out jacobi jayne and added it to favourites so thanks for that too.


     I didn't get to be stupid by being blonde, I was stupid enough to pay to be blonde!!!

  • In reply to Lyndseypops:

    Hi Lyndseypops, welcome to the forum.

    Some very interesting comments!

    I have never seen or read any published studies on the effects of feeding maggots to wild birds!

    I have been a keen angler for as long as I have been a keen birder and have fed hundreds of wild birds maggots whilst fishing.

    Robins and Chaffinches landing on my bait tubs was quite a regular occurance at numerous locations, so they were well accustomed to the anglers and the supply of food.

    I'm no expert and can only offer my personal advice, maggots that are sold in tackle shops are produced commercially in clean regulated environments and are often fed fish meal and maize. The colourings used are again regulated and to my knowledge offer no threat!

    The main area of concern is when they have left the tackle shops and are stored in sawdust by the angler for to long and a build up of ammonia can occur. Otherwise maggots are extremely clean and I have no concerns about using them to feed wild birds!

    If anyone can provide written publications about the effects of feeding maggots to wild birds I would be very interested in reading the studies!

    Regards Buzzard


    Nature Is Amazing - Let Us Keep It That Way

  • In reply to Lyndseypops:

    Hi Lynseypops would think quite a lot of maggots must be O K  for sure they are using some to clean and heal wounds on humans that do not respond to anything else so for sure some must be clean and anglers round local lake enjoy feeding small birds like Stonechat,they all seem to do very well.Do not think the owner of lake and shop would sell dirty maggots as some of fish  in lake cost £500. 

  • In reply to Sooty:

    OOoooooEEeeeerrrrrr seems I have hit upon a "controversy""" LOL.

    I personally have trouble dealing with maggots but my brother who fishes says the birds lurve em!!! They are cheaper then mealworms and I have to say when I did put his leftovers out , they were taken before the mealworms!!! I would only buy them from a fishing shop if I were to feed them.

    Could an RSPB moderator answer this question please???

     I didn't get to be stupid by being blonde, I was stupid enough to pay to be blonde!!!

  • After reading this thread while searching for information on feeding baby magpies and other sources, I was still left undecided about whether feeding maggots was a safe food source for birds. I came upon only one story where a person reported a case of death of a little wild bird that seemed to imply a direct link between feeding maggots and the death and as I had already fed my two fledgling magpies with maggots to no ill effects, I concluded that there was no harm in the maggots. Sadly, I was proven wrong. Maggots do kill birds and they do in a nasty way. About 12 hours after feeding my two magpie babies with the first new lot of maggots bought from a fish tackle shop (supposedly a safe option as discussed above), one of the birds became limp and exhibited strange tantrum behaviour and screaming that it never had before. 24 hours down the line (all this time being fed killed maggots), this one bird became sort of hysterical, unable to hold any ballance on its feet, flapping wings and having no control of its head. A day and a a half down the line the bird was in a pitiful condition - a series of seasures, constant headshaking and screaming fits - all of which are a sign of serious neurological damage. The second bird, although fed from the same lot of maggots remained in good health. I can surely conclude that feeding maggots to your birds is a recipe for disaster and a torturous death. Judjing on my experience, not every single maggot is lethal but there will be one inevitably that will contain some sort of bacteria or disease that will kill your bird. I took the risk of feeding maggots while diminish and belittling the warnings I read on this same thread and I can tell you I was rewarded with watching a slow and painful heart-wrenching process of death of a loved bird I took so much care of for so long. Costly lesson sadly. DO NEVER EVER GIVE MAGGOTS TO ANY BIRD, whild or captive! They may enojoy taking them but if they are wild and free, don't tell me there was nothing wrong with them as you did not watch over them in the next days to see their horrible death!