Birds flying majestically across the sky send a message of being free from everything that is on earth. The reality is completely different. These graceful species flying up and high need food to stay alive and healthy and that comes from the insects that live on land.
Most of the birds enjoy a wide range of insects in their daily diet. The Insects include mosquitoes, boll weevils, termites, grasshoppers, beetles, cicadas, earwigs, katydids, stink bugs, etc. some birds enjoy nuts, berries, fruits, nectar, pollen, grubs, seeds, and even grass!
Some birds are carnivorous and cherish smaller birds, eggs, rodents, small animals, and even snakes. If you love to stroll in the gardens and wilderness, look out on how the birds sit on the branches of trees for sighting their food.
Let us delve straight away into the mystical world of the bird species and find out their feeding regimes.
Differentiating the birds according to their diet patterns
I am going to make it easy for you to categorize birds according to the food they consume
There are some types of birds that love to eat nectar from the flowers of different plants.
These search for nectar going patiently from flower to flower. Some examples are hummingbirds, cardinals, woodpeckers, finches, honeycreepers, and sunbirds.
These types of birds eat berries, cherries, seeds, nuts, apples, and other fruits from trees.
These birds eat fruits easily due to their deep beaks. Parrots, figbirds, bowerbirds, some woodpecker species, and doves fall under this category.
Birds falling in this category eat seeds from plants like sunflower, thistle, millet, corn, safflower, etc.
Some examples include sparrows, cardinals, nuthatches, chickadees.
Omnivores birds are carnivores as well as herbivores. This means they can eat worms, insects as well as seeds, fruits, and nuts.
Ducks, woodpeckers, crows, quails, and blue jays are some examples of omnivores birds.
Yes, you have guessed correctly. These types of birds love eating insects and most of the species of the bird kingdom fall into this category.
They also love to eat tiny invertebrates like worms, spiders, beetles, and caterpillars. Some good examples are swallows, kingfishers, flycatchers, catbirds, and eastern bluebirds.
Birds that eat meat primarily fall under this category. Kites, hawks, eagles, falcons are some examples. They eat small birds, small mammals, reptiles, rodents, and fish. They are also called hunters.
Opiphagous birds are a sub-set of carnivores and eat snakes. Secretary birds, herons, owls, hawks, and egrets are some examples.
Foraging methods that birds use for food
There are many foraging methods the birds use to find insects and food. Let us delve into some of the techniques birds use to find their food
Birds submerge slightly or totally to find their food.
Examples are blue-winged teal, mallard, and green-winged teal
In this method, birds swim underwater to find their meal.
Some examples are anhingas, goldeneyes, and loons.
The birds pluck out living food from the ground, nooks, crevices, and corners in this method.
Tits, some hummingbirds, nuthatches are few examples.
The birds catch their prey while in flight in this method.
They go after moving insects on the ground or flying insects in the air. Some examples are swallows, swifts, and flycatchers.
Some birds like sandpipers plunge their beaks repeatedly in the soil until they find an insect.
This method is used by raptors like American kestrel and owls. They perch and scan the area for their food.
In this method, the bird will use one or two feet to scrape on the ground to uncover worms, insects, and grubs. Some examples are sparrows and eastern towhees.
The bird will remain in flight and dive momentarily to catch a fast-moving prey from the water. Examples are northern gannets and brown pelicans.
Types of insects birds consider as food
Here is a common list of insects that the birds eat as their food and are great sources of minerals, proteins, and hydration.
Ants, Beatles, aphids bees, boll weevils, cicadas dragonflies, cricketers, butterflies, katydids earwigs, grasshoppers leafhoppers, mosquitoes scales, moth, stink bugs Weevils, whiteflies, wasps, termites,wood-boring beetles, borers, etc.
Apart from the adult stage, most birds also eat insects in the (egg) embryo or larvae stage of butterflies, wasps, bees, moths, beetles, and flies.
Some examples are sparrows, crows, bluebirds, and blackbirds. Most commonly eaten larvae are cutworms, grubs, inchworms, mealworms, and caterpillars.
Birds eat all types of arthropods. Arthropods are invertebrate animals that include Insects; Crustaceans like water fleas, crabs, shrimps, and mussels; Myriapods like millipedes and centipedes; and Arachnids like mites and spiders.
Depending on their species, each bird has different meal preferences.
Let us move on and now classify different types of birds and the food they eat
The different varieties of birds and the food they prefer
Now let’s have a look at some of the birds and the food they like:
If you live in a city or town, most of the birds you come in contact with are called garden birds. You may find them on your porch, terrace, or backyard, small shrubs, or on the branches of garden trees.
Some of the common garden birds are
Robins are most rampant in many parts of North America.
They like to eat insects like spiders and beetles and also earthworms. At times they also eat fruits and seeds on trees and shrubs.
They search for their food on the ground and mostly eat earthworms, insects, and snails found on lawns and roadsides.
They also like berries, especially in the Autumn season.
Hummingbirds enjoy a wide range of food from spiders, larvae, insects to nectar and pollen of flowers including tree sap.
Finches are of two types- Goldfinches and chaffinches. Their food depends on the weather season. During summers, they are carnivorous while at other times they eat seeds from thistles, ragworts, and teasels.
They are patient predators and closely watch for their prey taking up to half an hour to examine the whole tree including each leaf and branch for insects.
As the name suggests, due to their long legs, these birds can wade through water with some effort.
A long bill allows them to seek prey until a particular depth of water or estuary mud. Some of the wading birds are
These birds love eating midge larvae, crustaceans, invertebrates, and worms. They move their bills through shallow water in a side-to-side direction and catch their food.
They have small bills and love to eat periwinkles, mussels, crabs, and other insects.
Curlews eat shellfish, crabs, ragworm, and lugworm. With their down-curved bills, it becomes easy for them to catch their food as well as take the invertebrates out on fields.
These birds grab invertebrates on the surface of the water. Due to small bills, it becomes impossible for them to catch food from a certain depth of water/ground. They love eating leatherjackets and beetles
Tree hugging/clinging birds
Owls, woodpeckers, and northern flickers fall under this category. They cling to the surface of trees and eat grubs and insects found in the deadwood.
Treecreepers are beautiful songbirds and as the name suggests, they creep around trees for spiders and other insects. You can find them eating seeds from the trees during the winter season.
Great spotted woodpeckers
The woodpeckers eat both fruits, nuts, seeds as well as insects and eggs of other birds. During winters their diet is more of fruits, seeds, and nuts while in summers they love to eat ants and other insects.
Like woodpeckers, northern flickers eat seeds, nuts, and fruits in winter and love to gorge on insects like beetles and ants during the summer months.
Acorn woodpeckers eat eggs of other birds, nuts korma fruits and seeds inventors, and ants during the summertime.
Many common species of these birds are categorized as invasive in North America, Europe, and some other parts of the world.
They can be commonly seen in most parts of the United States. The pigeons feed on vegetation like barley, cherry, oats, and corn. At times, when they do not find any vegetation, they turn into insectivores.
House sparrows change their dietary pattern during summers and eat aphids, caterpillars, and other insects. Other times, they feed on grain plants and seeds.
These are carnivorous hunters with round faces that help to pinpoint their prey. These mainly hunt at night and eat rodents, small birds, frogs, large beetles, etc.
These are mainly predators that eat many small birds commonly found across North America. Males catch smaller birds while females prefer big birds like starling and woodpigeons.
This is my favorite part and I am sure it is yours too with humans having a fondness for ducks and geese and their abundance in our parks and gardens.
You will be surprised to know that not all ducks have the same diet choices. Depending on their species, they prefer different kinds of foods.
Waterfowls swim in the water and can also walk on the ground. They have a vast species range that includes ducks and geese. Some of the common waterfowls are
These birds have long necks that they dunk inside the water to feed on pondweeds and other aquatic plants.
These ducks love crustaceans and insects. They filter water through their long bills to catch food.
Shelducks love to feed on worms, water snails, larvae, shellfish, and mollusks.
Mallards are easygoing and eat a variety of food by dipping their heads and grabbing their prey. They like plants, berries as well as insects, shellfish, and worms.
These birds fly across continents from the UK and spend their winter months in Canada and the United States.
These birds love to feed on flying insects like hoverflies, aphids, airborne spiders, beetles, etc.
Swallows are frugivorous as well as insectivores. They like eating berries, seeds of fruits as well gorging on flying insects like thrips, mosquitoes, ants, gnats, etc including dead insects.
They prefer invertebrates like snails, spiders, and beetles as well as insects. Depending on their sub-species, different warblers have different food habits.
These predators catch their flying food at high altitudes by flying high with the help of their wings. All flying insects are loved by them including flies, aphids, beetles, etc
To sum up, different species of food have different food choices. Most of them love eating insects while others prefer fruits, seeds, grain, and nuts.
There is also another category of birds that eat smaller birds, eggs, rodents, snails, etc.
Then there are birds that change their diet pattern according to season and availability. Most of the birds in the United States and Canada are omnivorous.
They can eat animals as well as plants. I hope I have been able to solve your query regarding what do birds eat. Find out what the bird species is and then follow the above diet pattern to keep the bird happy and chirpy.
So this is all about the different types of birds, their diet, and the insects they eat.
I hope you found this article useful!
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