Birds eat a wide variety of foods, including fruit, seeds, and, of course, insects. There have been a lot of posts from curious birders and gardeners asking what kinds of birds consume ants. So, we’ve answered some of the most often asked questions about this in this article.
Do Birds Eat Ants?
Birds, in fact, are known to devour ants. Many types of birds consider ants to be a tasty treat. They must be sufficient food for the bird because they are high in protein and require a lot of effort to catch.
Further, birds are able to easily capture ants due to a number of specialized adaptations. A bird, for instance, can retain an ant in its mouth thanks to a series of small hooks at the tip of its tongue, allowing it to keep searching for food.
Sure, ants are tiny little creatures that hardly register on the scales of human size. However, their size means that they are packed with protein for birds.
The bird’s muscles are strengthened by this protein, allowing it to fly for longer. In addition to the protein they provide, the potassium, iron, and zinc in ants are also great for the development and well-being of birds.
Birds consume a lot of ants since they are insects, and birds can eat this type of food. Many species of birds subsist entirely on bug food.
As a convenient and portable source of protein in times of scarcity, birds might turn to ants for their daily nourishment.
Because they are relatively small morsels, the bird need not risk harm or loss of life by attempting to capture larger prey that may be too powerful or dangerous to face without help.
Do Backyard Birds Eat Ants?
Birds in the backyard eat ants, you know. Whether or whether a given bird species eats ants can vary widely, but it’s clear that many popular backyard birds do so.
For this reason, many homeowners report being concerned about ant infestations in their yards. When it rains, people worry that if they bring any drops of water to the location, the birds will pick them up in their beaks and leave them for dead.
It’s true that birds can consume ants, nesting insects, and even scavenging insects around a home or building, but they usually only do it accidentally or when they’re really hungry.
Popular Birds That Eat Ants
Many North American backyard birds, like their counterparts in other parts of the world, spend their days feeding on ants.
It’s possible that you’re unaware that the amount of food required to sustain different bird species varies substantially. Therefore, there are numerous species of birds that feed on ants, some of which are listed below.
Originally from the West Coast and Central America, these little birds are now found in every state because to their insatiable appetite for nectar and invertebrates like ants.
These birds consume an incredible quantity of food daily, including ants. While some studies have seen them munching on bees, others have found them concentrating their foraging near locations where ant colonies are known to reside.
This raptor is strictly a carnivore, feeding primarily on rodents and insects like ants. They hunt throughout the daytime by swooping down from above. They also occasionally consume snakes and small rodents.
Throughout its range in North America, this songbird is most commonly observed in highland regions. However, you can catch one near water sources like lakes and rivers, where it feeds on hermit crabs.
As with most insects, hermit thrush enjoys snacking on ants. When mating season comes around, it has been known to devour moles and frogs, among other small creatures.
The shrike is another species of bird; it feeds primarily on insects but also takes small mammals and reptiles.
In addition to other insects, these birds will use their claws to kill ants. And have no problem devouring them on the spot.
The bee-eater is another kind of bird that can consume these insects and will actively seek out the nest and hunt the prey on its own.
Since long grasses serve as a home to a wide variety of insect life, they provide an ideal food source for birds like these.
Insects are a preferred food source for several birds, including crows and vireos, because of their small size and ease of digestion (and eat). Insects are both convenient and appetizing for crows as a source of food.
How Do Birds Eat Ants?
For tiny birds like the black-headed grosbeak, the high iron and protein content (30%) in ants makes them a satisfying meal. However, birds may employ a variety of strategies to catch and consume ants.
The violet-crowned woodnymph is one of the best ant-catching birds. The beaks of woodnymphs allow them to catch small insects without having to leave their perch.
- Their beaks are usually sharp and pointed, making it easy to pick up the ant from the ground.
- Another method is to use one’s fingernails or toes to select individual ants from an anthill or colony.
- Last but not least, birds may consume ants by hovering above an anthill and catching them in midair with their tongue (which can be unusually long).
However, the manner in which a particular bird consumes ants depends largely on the species of bird in question. A lot of birds, like larks and swallows, eat insects, but some might eat seeds.
However, ants defend themselves from enemies by spraying them with formic acid (if you think this is extreme, keep in mind that black ants can spray formic acid over fifty times their body length). The stings and bites of ants are not just reserved for ants, though; birds and lizards that try to consume them are met with the same response.
What Birds Eat Ant Eggs?
Ant eggs are a viable source of nutrition due to their high protein and fat content.
Humans can’t eat ant eggs because of digestive issues; therefore, it’s difficult to track them down because the ants flee at the sight of a human. There are, however, many species of birds that are able to eat ant eggs, including the ones below.
- Egrets are capable of eating ant eggs. Egrets aren’t frightened by ants, so they’ll fight among other for the chance to get near enough to eat them.
- Many different species of birds, not just egrets, forage for food by pecking about in fallen leaves and other forms of ground vegetation, such as wood chips or dirt mounds, where ants may have laid their nests.
What Birds Eat Carpenter Ants?
Birds that eat carpenter ants require an understanding of what carpenter ants are. The North American species of ant known as carpenter ants subsists mostly on decomposing organic matter, food scraps, and crumbs.
Their unique sawdust pattern left by their mandibles when foraging is how they got their name.
The next step is to determine which birds enjoy snacking on carpenter ants. It’s worth noting that most insectivorous birds don’t particularly like carpenter ants and don’t consume them frequently.
The American Crow, the Blue Jay, and the White-eyed Vireo are three notable outliers. Carpenter ants are a tasty treat for these birds, and they will swoop down from above to grab one.
Do Blackbirds Eat Ants?
The blackbird is one of the pickiest eaters around. When there are too many other food options available, some blackbirds will resort to eating ants.
When other potential food sources, such as earthworms and caterpillars, are scarce, blackbirds will rush in to grab a few ants. It’s estimated that ants make up less than 1% of their total intake.
Blackbirds are able to devour ants due to the size of their beaks. Their long, pointed bill allows them to pierce the exoskeletons of insects and extract the tasty flesh.
It is common to see blackbirds, which are small birds with blackish-brown plumage and may have black head markings or a black throat patch, in many regions of the world.
These perching birds get most of their nutrition from insects (particularly in the summer), but also eat berries and seeds (especially acorns).
Do Sparrows Eat Ants?
Sparrows do, in fact, consume ants. Want to hear a fascinating fact? Did you know sparrows often gather in large flocks and attack ant mounds in search of food? Moreover, they have been observed to consume thousands of ants daily.
However, sparrow chicks are a favorite food of ants. In just one hour, an ant can eat as much as a thousand times its body weight in crumbs from a bird’s droppings.
Since they are omnivores, sparrows can even feast on ants. In addition to other insects, spiders, worms, caterpillars, and the like will also make up their diet.
When seeds and fruits are in season, they devour those, too. Their natural habitat supplies them with all of the necessities for life.
What if, while foraging in the tall grass, a flock of sparrows stumbles upon a colony of ants? This is because the effort required to catch the ants causes them to avoid them altogether.
However, ants are a constant presence wherever sparrows are nesting, whether it be in their natural habitat during the winter or in their nests.
They often stop to devour one while on the quest for other food.
It has been established that birds will consume ants without hesitation if they come upon them. Multiple species of ants can be found in the wild. Birds also have some idea of the specific species of ant they’ll be eating.