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Is Food Coloring Safe For Birds?

With birds constantly growing in popularity as pets in North America and Europe, more and more people have been looking to try their hand at making some custom toys for their birds to play with.

Due to birds liking to pick at their toys, traditional paints tend not to be safe pushing the various dyes to the top of the available options but even then, some dye products are not suitable so we have seen people double checking and asking if food coloring is safe for birds or not.

Food coloring is generally considered safe for use with birds when looking to make your own DIY bird toys or when looking to patch up the colors on existing toys that your pet birds may have damaged.

This is due to food coloring being a dye rather than a paint making it difficult for your birds to ingest the dye and end up having issues from it.

Please note that food coloring may not be the best option for adding color to some materials that are commonly used for toys with birds though and it can take a surprisingly large amount of food coloring to stain absorbent materials such as wood before the color takes hold.

When it comes to the cheap, easy to use, and bird safe stains and colors though, food coloring does usually tend to stick to being one of the better options available for the bulk of people.

Is Food Coloring Safe For Birds?

Food coloring is considered safe for use with bird toys with many people who keep pet birds using it without issue.

The general rule of thumb is that if it is safe for a human to consume then it will be fine to use in your bird’s cage and shouldn’t cause any problems but there will always be a small element of risk associated with any coloring dye.

That said though, from what we have seen on social media from people who keep birds and have used food dye on the cage decorations and bird toys, there is little to nothing to worry about.

Another thing that we have see people report is that they tend to find that they have more problems with the actual wood that they use to make their bird’s toys rather than the food coloring itself.

This can be due to the wood splintering if an unsuitable type of wood is used as birds love to pick at the wood in their cages and low-quality cuts of wood can splinter and potentially end up being injected and cause problems with your birds.

As we mentioned earlier in the article, some types of wood can be extremely absorbent too with this often resulting in a large amount of food coloring to change the color of the wood when some pre-dyed popsicle sticks can often work out to be considerably cheaper.

Can You Color DIY Bird Toys With Food Coloring?

You can color DIY bird toys with food coloring without any risk to your birds in the majority of cases but you do have to factor in that most DIY bird toys that people make are usually commercially available, often for a lower price than you can make something similar for yourself.

This is why we often just recommend that you purchase a pre-made bird toy for your pet bird rather than try to make them yourself as you know the coloring is safe for your birds.

For example, take this pre-made popsicle stick bird toy that costs around $5 to purchase in its ready to go state to just add to your bird’s cage.

To make something similar yourself, you have to purchase popsicle sticks, coloring, string, beads, and a meal clasp as well as factor in your own time to actually make the toy for your birds too.

This will almost always work out to not only cost you more cash to make the toys yourself but you also have to spend time and effort making the toy that could be put into other tasks.

If you are using the activity as a bonding activity with your children to make toys for your birds then that’s usually worth the trade but for most other people, it will just be better to purchase a pre-made toy.


That brings our article going over if food coloring is safe for birds toys or not to an end. We hope that we have helped you understand that in general, food coloring or food grade dye is considered to be safe to use with birds toys but there are usually better options. As we covered, you will often find that making your own DIY bird toys end up costing you more than just purchasing a pre-made option that has bird-safe dye on the toy already so you have to factor in all of your options.