Ever fed dog kibble to birds? Have you put kibble out at your feeders as a seed substitute, perhaps in the winter?

Nutrition-wise, this is not a bad idea, particularly in the winter.

I asked this question to members of a professional ornithologist email list. I wanted confirmation of my experiences — Blue Jays will one-by-one carry kibble chunks away to cache for later use, working until the platter is cleansed.

But, how about smaller birds, assuming they could get a bite in edgewise?

Zoo nutritionists say that dog chow is well-balanced nutritionally, and has a more appropriate level of fat than cat chow, another, lesser, option. The trick is to find a brand that soaks ups liquid without turning to mush.

Recommended by one respondent was Eukanuba Small Breed Puppy food. It comes in small pellets, much like Grape Nuts breakfast cereal, perhaps making it more attractive to smaller birds, not that the jays would ignore it. It has good protein and fat content, again a winter consideration.

Another person was using starlings for a research projects. He said his birds were happy and fat on their dog chow diet. Generic brands did not work as well as the better-known major brands, I was told.

Use only good quality, high-protein brands, this person said. He mentioned that rabbit pellets also work. This was fed to pigeons and doves chosen for research, along with their regular corn and bird seed.