Mealworms are one of the most popular food sources for birds. Whether you’re offering up treats to your backyard feathered friends or trying your hand at enticing migratory birds into view, mealworms are an effective and delicious way to go. But what birds eat mealworms? Read on as we explore the bird species that love them meals in this blog post!
What Birds eat Mealworms?
What Are Mealworms?
Mealworms are larval forms of beetles. They feed on grains including wheat, oat, barley, and bran. Most people feed them to pet reptiles like bearded dragons, lizards, and tarantulas but they make an ideal food for many birds as well.
Birds love to eat mealworms because they give them protein which is essential for their diets. Birds that eat mealworms include jays, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, bushtits, and finches among many others.
Other names for these six-legged creatures are darkling beetle or yellow worm.
Why are Mealworms Good For Birds?
Mealworms give birds a good source of protein. Protein is a vital part of any bird’s diet and insects provide a rich source of this macronutrient.
Insects are also high in chitin, which is essential for the healthy development of feathers. Chitin also strengthens the beak and claws, making these parts more durable. Insects provide birds with nutrients like Vitamin A, calcium, riboflavin, and niacin.
Insects have a high water content so when birds eat them the water is absorbed into their bodies keeping them hydrated for long periods especially in dry weather conditions.
Mealworms also add variety to the diet of any bird, with their shiny casings providing variety in color.
What are the Health Benefits of Mealworms for Birds?
Mealworms provide birds with essential nutrients like vitamin A which is vital for a healthy beak and eye development in young birds. Vitamin A is also important for immune function in adult birds.
Mealworms are a good source of calcium which is necessary for the development of the beak and the formation of eggshells.
Mealworms provide birds with B vitamins that are necessary for metabolizing fats, carbohydrates, and proteins. They also have riboflavin which is vital for metabolism as well as for healthy gizzard function in birds. Riboflavin also helps to metabolize Vitamin B and proteins.
Mealworms contain niacin which is important for the production of red blood cells and metabolism. They also provide birds with iron, potassium, phosphorus, and zinc that are vital for overall health as well as disease prevention.
How to Feed Mealworms to Birds?
Mealworms can be fed to birds by placing the mealworms in a suitable bird feeder that is easily accessible to your birds. The type of feeder you use will also depend on whether your mealworms are alive or dried.
In the case of feeding live mealworms to your birds, you may want to opt for a bowl-type feeder with smooth sides so that the worms can’t climb up and out of the feeder bowl.
A special Mealworm feeder works best but a tray or platform feeder may work as long as the worms don’t crawl out.
Live or Dried Mealworms for Birds?
Backyard birds undoubtedly prefer live mealworms as they find them far more enticing and eye-catching. This is not to say that backyard birds won’t eat dried mealworms, it just may be more difficult to catch their attention and draw them into your feeders.
Dried mealworms are cheaper and easier to get than live mealworms. They can be bought at most pet stores and have the bonus of being able to store quite easily.
They can be mixed in with other wild bird food such as seeds and nuts and can even be added to homemade suet cakes.
If you are serving dried mealworms to your wild birds during mating season, be sure to soak the mealworms in lukewarm water to soften them up, and make it easier for younger or smaller birds to enjoy.
While live mealworms are far more appealing to your backyard bird population, they can be more difficult to work with.
Pet stores will not always have them available and they tend to move around and escape if you use the wrong type of feeder.
As mentioned above, use a special mealworm bird feeder or a feeder bowl with smooth sides and a min-height of about 1″ to ensure they do not escape.
Mealworm Serving Size
A general rule of thumb is to feed your birds 1 or 2 mealworms per bird species. Be sure that this doesn’t exceed the number of mealworms you are feeding them as too many may be harmful to smaller birds.
Another important factor to consider when feeding your wild bird population is whether they are adult, juvenile, baby birds.
If you are unsure, then it is best to err on the side of caution and only offer mealworms as a rare treat. The safest way to ensure you are not overfeeding your backyard bird population is to feed them once every 2-3 days.
Birds should never be overfed as it is unhealthy and may lead to obesity. Birds also need a balanced diet of fresh fruits and veggies, clean water, and high-quality birdseed.
Birds especially love mealworms during the winter season when their natural food sources are scarce.
How to Raise Mealworms
You can raise mealworms in a plastic bin that is deep enough for them so they don’t crawl out. Fill the bin with shredded newspaper to provide bedding and leave some potatoes or carrots lying around.
The worms will feed on these so make sure you remove any food once it has been eaten.
Place the bin in a dark, damp area as mealworms cannot live in hot, dry places. Ensure that there is a lid to prevent the worms from crawling out and use a wire mesh over the top. The bin should have air holes so it doesn’t get too stuffy inside.
Mealworms need a humidity level of around 70% so make sure you keep their container moist by spraying it with water daily.
A great place to put your mealworm bin is in an unheated loft or garage. You can also use an old fridge or freezer if you are confident that all of the electrical components have been removed.
How do I store mealworms?
You can store mealworms in the refrigerator to slow their growth and keep them alive in the larval form and prevent them from turning into beetles.
Freezing mealworms is also a good way of preserving them for a long time as long as you seal them in a container until you are ready to use them.
Mealworms that have gone bad can be identified by their black color and smell of mold or rotting food so make sure you dispose of any worms that look or smell like this immediately.
Where to buy mealworms for birds?
Smaller pet stores may be your best bet for buying mealworms, however, real batches can also be purchased from several insect breeders and farms online.
We like Kimoe 5lb 100% Natural Dried Mealworms because it is natural and non-gmo.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can mealworms hurt birds?
No, Mealworms can’t hurt birds as they are small and soft-bodied insects with no means of protecting themselves from predators like birds which make them easy prey.
What size mealworms do bluebirds eat?
Bluebirds prefer the early instar larvae of the mealworm beetle which measure about ¼ inch in length.
How long can you store live mealworms?
Mealworms can be stored for up to a month in an airtight container that is kept at room temperature like your kitchen counter or inside your cooler if you plan on storing them for longer than this.
What do mealworms eat?
Mealworms feed on grains and vegetables with wheat bran as their favorite.
Do mealworms bite humans as they are chewing on my hand?
Mealworms don’t have any teeth so they can’t bite but if you hold still for them to crawl all over your hands they will tickle a lot!
So, What birds eat Mealworms?
Birds such as Bluebirds, Chickadees, Cardinals, thrushes, Titmice, wrens, nuthatches, Kinglets, Warblers, Woodpeckers and Bushtits all eat mealworms as part of their natural diet.
Mealworms are an excellent source of food for birds, and providing them with mealworms in the winter months is a great way to help ensure their survival.
Raising mealworms in your own home is easy and can be done in any enclosed container or bin as long as you keep it moist.
When purchasing live mealworms for your feathered friends, make sure that you buy from reputable sources and check for freshness before feeding them to the birds. With proper care and attention, you’ll have happy healthy birds all year round.
If you have any experience feeding mealworms to birds, let us know! We would love to share your experience with our readers. We can all benefit from each other’s birding experience and knowledge.
Remember to check our other blog posts for more information about birds and nature. Also, don’t forget to share this article with your friends, family, and fellow bird lovers!