What Birds Eat Ants? (List of Birds That Eat Ants)

As we know that insects are one of the food sources of birds, including fruits, seeds, and many others. Many bird watchers and gardeners have posted questions about what birds eat ants? So in this article, we have discussed this topic in brief with similar queries people have asked.

Do Birds Eat Ants?

The answer is Birds do eat ants! Ants are a delicacy for many bird species. They are high in protein, and it takes a lot of energy to catch one, so they must provide enough sustenance for the bird.

what birds eat ants, birds that eat ants

In addition, birds have special adaptations that help them to catch ants. For example, at the tip of a bird’s tongue is a row of tiny hooks that help it hold an ant in its mouth while continuing to search for more food.

Yeah, ants are indeed very small in size, a tiny living organism. But still, they have a large amount of protein in size for the birds.

This protein helps the bird strengthen its muscles and makes them strong so it can fly for a long time. Other than protein, ants also have potassium, iron, and zinc in them, which is very helpful for birds’ growth and health.

Birds eat a lot of ants because ants are in the insect category, and they are a portion of suitable food for all kinds of birds. Many birds eat insects all day long.

When it comes to meals, ants are small enough to be an easy way for birds to get protein when other food sources are scarce.

In some cases, this also means that because these are small snacks, the bird can fly away instead of having to fight bigger prey that may be too strong or dangerous to tackle without sustaining an injury or risking life and limb.

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Do Backyard Birds Eat Ants?

Yes, backyard birds do eat ants. Ant consumption can range greatly depending on the species of bird, but it seems to be fairly common as backyard birds eat ants.

That is why there are a lot of people who are worried about the ants in their backyard. They are afraid that if they bring some water droplets to the area on a wet day, the birds will fly away with them on their beaks and leave them for dead.

The truth is that while birds can eat ants, insects that live in nests, and even insects that scavenge around a house or building for food, these can feed them by mistake or when they are hungry enough.

Along with other birds worldwide who can eat birds, many backyard birds in North America spend their days eating ants.

What you might not know is that this consumption can vary greatly depending on the species of bird. So, there are many types of birds that eat ants, a few of which include the following birds as mentioned below.

Hummingbirds

These tiny birds are native to the West Coast and Central America, but they’re making their way from state to state all across the country with their hunger for nectar and insects like ants.

Mourning Doves 

These birds eat an enormous amount of food each day, including ants. Some research suggests that they may even concentrate their feedings around areas where ant colonies are known to be living, while other research has found them feasting on bees instead.

Coopers hawk

This bird is a carnivorous raptor that eats small mammals and insects like ants. They hunt in broad daylight by swooping down from high up in the air. Sometimes, they will also eat snakes and rodents.

Hermit thrush

This songbird is mainly found in North America, where it resides mostly in mountainous areas. However, it can be found close to damp areas such as lakes and rivers, where it will feed on hermit crabs.

Hermit thrush also loves to eat ants as ants are insects, and they do eat insects. It has also been known to eat smaller animals like moles and frogs when the breeding season approaches.

Shrike

One more bird type is the shrike, which eats ants and other small mammals and reptiles. 

Falcons

These birds will also attack ants with their claws, as well as other insects. And will eat them on the spot without wasting their time.

Bee-eater

Another bird that can eat these insects is the bee-eater, who will go after the nest and pursue the prey on its own.

Birds like these are able to find plenty of food in long grasses because this habitat attracts a lot of different invertebrate species.

Some other birds like crows and vireos like eating insects because they are small and easy to swallow (and eat). Crows like insects because they are easy to find and because they make tasty snacks.

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How Do Birds Eat Ants?

Ants are 30% protein and high in iron, pretty filling for smaller birds like the black-headed grosbeak. But, the truth is that there are several different methods that birds might use to eat ants.

One of the most successful birds at catching ants is the violet-crowned woodnymph. Woodnymphs’ beaks allow them to pick up small insects on their perch, so they do not have to go chasing after their prey.

  1. One way is to use their beak, typically sharp and pointed, to pick the ant up off the ground.
  2. Another way is to pick out ants from an anthill or nest with their nails or toes.
  3. Finally, birds may eat ants by hovering over an anthill and using their tongue (which can be exceptionally long) to catch them in the air.

What matters most for how a bird eats ants, though, is what kind of bird it is! Some species of bird, particularly larks and swallows, prefer insects as food, whereas others may consume seeds.

However, ants protect themselves by spraying formic acid onto potential predators (if you think this is extreme, keep in mind that black ants can spray formic acid over fifty times their body length). Ants also sting and bite predators such as birds and lizards looking to eat them.

What Birds Eat Ant Eggs?

Ant eggs contain a lot of protein and fat and boast a high enough caloric value to live on.

But, for humans, because they can’t digest them, it’s hard to hunt down the ant eggs because the ants will run away when they try to get near them. However, there are a lot of birds who can eat ant eggs; some of them are listed below:

  1. A bird called an egret can eat ant eggs. Unfortunately, ants do not scare egrets at all, so they often fight over the chance to get close and feed themselves on them.
  2. It is not just egrets that enjoy eating ant eggs; many other types of birds like to find their food by pecking through dead leaves and other ground vegetation like wood chips or dirt piles that ants may lay their eggs in.

What Birds Eat Carpenter Ants?

Before knowing what birds can eat carpenter ants, first, you need to know what are “Carpenter Ants.” Carpenter ants are a variety of ant found in North America and typically feed on dead plant material, bread crumbs, and other such scraps.

They are known as such because their mandibles will usually leave a distinctive sawdust pattern wherever they’ve been digging for food.

Next, you will need to find out which birds will feed on carpenter ants. It is interesting to note that most insectivorous birds are not fond of carpenter ants or eat them regularly.

Some exceptions are the American Crow, the Blue Jay, and the White-eyed Vireo. These birds will readily eat carpenter ants and will readily swoop down on them from the sky.

Do Blackbirds Eat Ants?

Blackbirds are extremely picky eaters. Some blackbirds will only eat ants when there are so many in one place that it is difficult for them to find enough food.

Blackbirds usually do not hunt ants and rush in to take a few if they outnumber other prey like earthworms and caterpillars. Ants make up about 1% of their diet.

Blackbirds can eat ants because of the size of their beaks that they are able to do so. They have a long, sharp bill that can pierce insect carapaces and pick out the meat.

Blackbirds are small birds with blackish-brown plumage, often with black head markings or a black throat patch, found in many parts of the world.

These perching birds feed mainly insects (especially during the summer), berries, and seeds (especially acorns).

Do Sparrows Eat Ants?

Yes, sparrows can eat ants. Do you want to know a fun fact? Did you know swarms of sparrows attack ant hills all the time looking for food? And they have been documented to eat thousands of ants in a day.

Ants, on the other hand, love sparrow chicks. An ant can consume up to 1000 times its weight in crumbs from bird droppings in one hour.

You know what sparrows can eat ants because they are omnivores. They will eat other small insects, spiders, worms, caterpillars, and more.

They also eat seeds and fruits when available. Everything they need to survive is provided for them by the environment in which they live.

Additionally, suppose sparrows happen upon an ant colony while searching for food in tall grass. In that case, they will usually avoid the ants altogether because of the work it would take to catch them.

However, when sparrows are nesting in their habitat during winter or at their nests, there are always ants crawling all around near where they are sleeping.

So it’s not unusual to see them eating one here and there while taking a little break from hunting for food elsewhere.

Last Thoughts

As we have discussed birds that eat ants without any hesitation whenever they find ants. Also, there are several ants that exist in nature. Birds also know about what type of ants they are going to eat.

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