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Do Birds Eat Ants? (Here Are the Facts)

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Birds are fascinating creatures that have an interesting life. So, if you are learning more about birds, or a specific breed local to your region, you may wonder, do birds eat ants?

A black-white bird standing on a tree branch with an ant in his beak.

Being curious about a bird’s diet is normal and can be reflective of its natural habitat. There are three types of birds, according to their feeding habits. These categories include:

  • Herbivores: only consume vegetation
  • Omnivores: eat plants and animals
  • Carnivores: only feed on other animals

While some bird species only eat plants, the two other types can eat ants, although omnivores are more likely to forge for insects and bugs like ants. So if you have watched a bird peck around in the grass or dirt, it may be hunting for ants to eat.


Which Birds Regularly Eat Ants?

Since ants live almost everywhere in the world, it’s no wonder why birds will seek them out for a meal. Surprisingly, these tiny creatures are an excellent source of food for many bird species. Here are some of the more common birds that regularly eat ants:

  • Bluebirds
  • Cedar Waxwing
  • Chickadees
  • Crows
  • Gray Catbird
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Northern Flicker
  • Pheasants
  • Pigeons
  • Ravens
  • Robins
  • Sparrows
  • Starlings
  • Swallows
  • Nuthatches
  • Woodpeckers
  • Wrens

While some of these birds will search for ants from spring to fall, these insects can be scarce in the winter. Therefore, these birds often rely on nuts, seeds, and berries for their nutrition during colder months when ants are unavailable.

Generally, smaller bird species will be the more common types to forge for ants, while the larger birds, including crows and ravens, will only eat them when the opportunity arises or if they are short on other food sources.

Why Do Birds Like To Eat Ants?

A beautiful Woodpecker pecking on a tree.

Ants may seem like tiny morsels that would not satisfy an appetite, but it may surprise you how healthy they are and how many ants a bird can consume.

Ants are high in protein, zinc, potassium, and iron. These nutrients help a bird stay strong and healthy for flying, performing daily tasks, and improving its blood circulation. Ants are prevalent in almost every place a bird exists, making them an easy meal option.

For example, 50% of a woodpecker’s diet will often consist of ants, making it the highest ant-consumer in the bird world.

Where Do Birds Find Ants To Eat?

Ants are versatile tiny creatures, making it easy for birds to find them. An ant nest can be underground, forming ant hills, in trees, under rocks, or in other small areas that provide adequate protection from predators like birds.

Next time you see a bird paying close attention to the ground or a small hole in a tree, it may be looking for ants to eat.

Wrapping Up

A close-up of carpenter ant on a bulb.

Depending on the location, many birds will consume various ant species, including carpenter ants, flying ants, and fire ants. Of course, the weather, location, and bird type will play an integral part in how many ants they consume in one sitting. However, if these tiny insects are available, a hungry bird will find them.

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