What Birds Eat Worms? (And How to Feed Them)

Birds are fascinating creatures with diverse diets that can include seeds, insects, fruits, and worms. Worm-eating birds are not only found in gardens and lawns, but also in forests and wetlands, where they scour the ground for nutritious, protein-rich worms. In fact, worms are a crucial food source for many common bird species, providing them with the energy and nutrients they require to thrive.

Some of the bird species that feed on worms include robins, woodpeckers, blackbirds, and even certain raptors, enjoying the delicacy from beneath the soil or freshly exposed on the surface. The types of worms these avian creatures consume can vary widely, with earthworms and mealworms being favorites among many. Moreover, birds utilize different foraging and feeding techniques to locate and catch worms, making their feeding habits an interesting subject to explore.

Key Takeaways

  • A variety of birds, such as robins and blackbirds, rely on worms as a nutritious food source.
  • Earthworms and mealworms are among the most commonly consumed types of worms by birds.
  • Birds use diverse methods to find and catch worms, making their feeding habits an engaging topic to study.

Bird Species That Eat Worms

Unique Beak Adaptations

Several bird species are known to eat worms, thanks to unique beak adaptations that help them find and capture these nutritious prey. For example, the American Robin uses its strong, pointed beak to efficiently pull earthworms out of the ground source. Similarly, the Common Blackbird and the Song Thrush utilize their long, sharp bills to probe deep into the soil and extract worms with ease source.

Other birds with specialized beaks that aid in feeding on worms include:

  • Nuthatches
  • Warblers
  • Kinglets
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice

These species have beaks specially adapted for foraging through foliage, bark, and soil in search of worms and other insects.

Read Next: Which Birds Eat Dried Mealworms?

Feeding Preferences

Different bird species have varied feeding preferences. Some, like the Carolina Wren or Blue Jays, may eat worms occasionally as part of a more diverse diet that includes insects, seeds, and fruits source.

On the other hand, other species such as Bluebirds and Wrens rely more heavily on worms as a significant source of protein. Worms are particularly important to these birds during their breeding season, as they provide essential nutrients required for the development of their young source.

Some larger birds of prey, like eagles and hawks, also consume worms when they are available. Although these birds typically hunt for larger prey such as rodents and small mammals, they won’t pass up a tasty worm if they come across it.

Types of Worms Eaten by Birds

Birds have a diverse diet, and one of their favorite foods includes worms. Among the different types of worms that birds consume, we can find earthworms, mealworms, and larvae. Each of these worms provides unique benefits to the birds’ diets, and their availability and nutritional value make them an essential food source.

Worm Nutritional Value

Earthworms are a rich source of protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them a nutritious meal for birds like robins, thrushes, and blackbirds. These birds commonly feed on earthworms found on lawns and other soil areas, using their keen sense of vibrations to locate the worms under the soil surface.

Mealworms are actually not worms at all but are the larval form of the mealworm beetle. These “worms” are clean and easy to work with, offering an excellent source of nutrients for birds, especially during harsh weather conditions and breeding season. Mealworms are particularly favored among bluebirds and other small insectivorous birds.

Larvae refer to a variety of insect species in their immature stage, such as fly larvae, caterpillars, and grubs. These tiny creatures are packed with protein, making them a valuable food source for various bird species. Woodpeckers, nuthatches, starlings, and even some owls enjoy feeding on larvae found in trees, under rocks, or hiding in leaf litter.

Foraging and Feeding Techniques

When it comes to foraging and feeding on worms, several bird species have developed unique techniques to find and catch their prey effectively. One of the primary methods used by birds such as American Robins, Thrushes, and Blackbirds is probing the ground with their beaks to locate worms hidden beneath the surface. Birds’ sense of touch plays a crucial role in this process, allowing them to feel the vibrations or movements of worms and take advantage of their strong beaks for probing.

Apart from their sense of touch, birds also utilize their keen sense of hearing and vision to detect worms. They can hear the movements of worms beneath the soil and can spot the slight signs of worms even in the dense undergrowth. In some cases, birds are also known to use their calls or wing movements to disturb the ground, encouraging worms to come to the surface, making them easier to capture.

The Clapper Rail, a species of marshbird, demonstrates a specialized foraging behavior for finding and capturing worms. Known for their long legs and wingspan, these birds can navigate the muddy marshlands with ease. To flush out worms, Clapper Rails use their legs and bill to probe the soft ground or disturb the water, resulting in worms becoming exposed and available to feed on.

In general, foraging for worms involves a combination of skills, senses, and adaptive behaviors that birds have developed over time to survive and thrive in the wild. By being in tune with their environment and utilizing their natural senses, the birds can efficiently locate and feed on worms to maintain a healthy diet.

Feeding Birds Worms in Your Backyard

Creating a bird-friendly environment in your backyard is a great way to attract a variety of bird species. One of the most effective ways to entice backyard birds is by providing them with worms, specifically mealworms. These wiggly creatures are a popular food source for numerous bird species and can be offered in various ways.

Offering Live versus Dried Mealworms

When it comes to providing mealworms for your backyard birds, there are two main options: live and dried. Both types have their pros and cons, and it is essential to consider the preferences of the birds you’re trying to attract.

Live mealworms are more appealing to birds as they closely resemble their natural food sources. These wriggly morsels can be easily found at pet stores or online shops and are typically kept in a container with a wheat bran or oatmeal substrate. To offer live mealworms, simply place them in a shallow dish or a platform feeder designed for this purpose. However, live mealworms can be more expensive and require maintenance to keep them alive and healthy.

Dried mealworms, on the other hand, are cheaper and more convenient. They can be stored for longer periods without the risk of spoilage. To serve dried mealworms, simply scatter them on a mealworm feeder or mix them with other birdseed in a traditional bird feeder. While dried mealworms may not be as visually appealing to some bird species, they still provide a nutritious snack.

It’s essential to observe the backyard birds you’re trying to attract and adjust your offerings accordingly. Some bird species may show a clear preference for either live or dried mealworms, while others may be content with both options. By providing a variety of mealworm types and using different feeder styles, you’ll increase the chances of enticing a diverse range of bird species to your backyard.

Additional Bird Diet Components

Birds require a wide range of nutrients to maintain a healthy and energetic lifestyle. While worms serve as a protein-rich delicacy for many birds, including Robins, Thrushes, and Blackbirds, various other components make up their diets depending on the species and habitat.

Apart from worms, birds enjoy consuming insects and invertebrates which add valuable proteins and fat to their diet. These nutrients help birds build and repair muscles, contribute to reproductive health, and provide energy. Some insect-eating species include bluebirds, which relish mealworms, and free-range chickens that devour near 10 worms a day.

Seeds and grains form an essential part of many bird diets, especially for birds like sparrows, finches, and pigeons. Seeds are packed with energy due to their high fat content, which is crucial for bird survival, particularly in colder climates. Grains, on the other hand, are a source of carbohydrates that provide birds with the energy to fly and engage in other activities.

Fruits are another important food component for birds, as they supply vitamins and minerals for healthy growth and functioning. Ornithological species like robins, thrushes, and waxwings feast on fruits like berries, cherries, and apples, which contain nutrients like calcium and vitamins A, C, and K. Calcium, for instance, supports the formation and maintenance of bones and eggshells.

Lastly, suet—a type of animal fat—is a vital source of energy for birds, especially during the colder months. Many birds, such as woodpeckers, chickadees, and nuthatches, love to eat suet as it keeps their body warm and fuels their metabolism. Suet is usually served to birds in specially designed feeders or mixed with seeds to create homemade suet cakes.

Birds That Also Consume Worms

A variety of bird species consider worms an essential part of their diet, as they provide a rich source of protein and other nutrients. Some well-known species that eat worms include robins, Carolina wrens, and Worm-eating warblers. These birds, along with others, are known to search for worms on the ground or in the undergrowth of dense foliage.

In addition to birds, some reptiles and fish also consume worms. However, for the purpose of this discussion, we will focus on birds. Pet bird owners may sometimes offer worms as a snack or dietary supplement, although it’s essential to provide a balanced diet that caters to the bird species’ specific nutritional requirements. Worms can be easily stored in a well-ventilated plastic container with some moisture to keep them fresh and healthy for consumption.

Birds mostly consume soft-bodied insects, such as worms, to maintain their overall health. The consumption of worms allows them to obtain essential fibers and minerals, which in turn promote good digestive health. Moreover, worms can also help birds produce high-quality eggs. Apart from worms, birds may also feed on other insects and small creatures to fulfill their dietary needs.

In order to protect the health of the worms, they need to be kept in a clean and suitable environment, away from any contaminants which might affect their quality. It’s also important to ensure that they are appropriately shed before offering them to birds, as this helps in their digestion.

Worm Consumption and Effects on Bird Health

Worms are a valuable part of many birds’ diets, providing essential nutrients like protein, minerals, and fatty acids. Birds such as Robins, Thrushes, Blackbirds, woodpeckers, and nuthatches are known to consume worms regularly 12. Worms offer these birds sustenance and help them maintain their body weight.

Protein is crucial for a bird’s survival, as it aids in building and repairing tissues. Moreover, it’s necessary for feathers, hormones, and enzymes production, which contribute to the bird’s overall health. Worms serve as a rich protein source, and American Robins, for instance, can consume up to 20 worms per hour3.

In addition to protein, worms provide essential minerals that improve a bird’s immune system and maintain a healthy metabolism. Among these minerals are calcium and phosphorus, which are vital for strong bones and beaks.

The fatty acids found in worms are essential for many aspects of bird health, such as promoting skin and feather health, providing energy, and improving brain function. Fatty acids also play a role in regulating inflammation and can support the bird’s reproductive system during breeding seasons.

While worms offer significant nutritional benefits, they can also impact a bird’s sense of sight. Birds have developed excellent vision to detect and locate worms, allowing them to effectively forage for this essential food source. Their ability to spot worms in their natural environment is vital for their survival and overall health.

Geographical Distribution of Worm-Eating Birds

Worm-eating birds thrive in various locations across the globe. In North America, an example of a worm-eating bird species is the Worm-eating Warbler, which primarily consumes insects but also feeds on earthworms. They are found largely throughout the eastern United States, inhabiting deciduous forests.

In Europe, the common blackbird can often be seen pulling worms from the ground. They are frequently spotted in gardens and areas with wet ground, allowing them to search for worms with ease. These birds are also prevalent in parts of Asia, particularly in the Middle East.

Moving further into Asia, a good example of worm-eating birds is the Black-tailed Godwit. The godwits enjoy pulling worms from mud flats and are commonly found in Hong Kong’s Mai Po Nature Reserve.

Many worm-eating birds are omnivores, which means they consume a wide variety of food sources. Apart from earthworms, these birds also feed on insects, seeds, and fruits. Their diverse diet enables them to flourish in different habitats.

The Ruby-crowned Kinglet is a small bird native to North America. Although this bird isn’t primarily a worm-eater, it does feed on a variety of insects, including spiders and small caterpillars. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet can be found in coniferous forests and wooded areas, especially during the breeding season.

From North America and Europe to Asia, these versatile omnivores populate different terrains and display a myriad of feeding behaviors. So, whether you’re in a deciduous forest or a muddy wetland, keep an eye out for these fascinating creatures.

Do Birds Eat Dead Worms?

Birds, such as robins, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and even chickens, have been known to enjoy feasting on worms. These small creatures serve as a nutritious and protein-rich food source for a variety of bird species.

But do birds eat dead worms? The answer is yes. While many birds prefer live prey because it’s easier to catch and often more nutritious, they will also eat dead worms if they come across them while foraging. In fact, some bird species, like seagulls, are not as picky and will eat both live and dead worms they find on the ground.

It’s important to remember that not all bird species eat worms. Each type of bird has its own specific diet and feeding habits, including other forms of insects and small animals. For instance, a few examples of birds that regularly include worms in their diet are:

  • Robins
  • Woodpeckers
  • Nuthatches
  • Chickens

When it comes to their feeding habits, birds have developed various techniques to find worms, whether they are alive or dead. Some birds rely on their sense of touch, using their feet to detect vibrations caused by worms moving beneath the soil. This helps them locate the worms, which they then catch using their beaks.

Though birds certainly do eat dead worms and won’t let this food source go to waste, the preference between live and dead worms may vary depending on the bird species and its feeding habits. As nature’s opportunistic feeders, birds will adapt to consume what’s best for their survival and nourishment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do all birds consume worms?

Not all birds consume worms. However, many bird species enjoy eating worms. It depends on the bird’s diet, which can vary significantly among species. Insectivorous and omnivorous birds, such as robins and blackbirds, are more likely to eat worms than birds that primarily feed on seeds, nectar, or fruit.

How do birds find worms to eat?

Birds primarily rely on their vision and hearing to locate worms. They may notice the movement of the soil as worms burrow near the surface or listen to the sounds worms make while moving through the ground. Some birds, like American robins, can eat up to 20 worms per hour.

Are there specific species of birds that primarily eat worms?

Yes, certain bird species are more likely to eat worms than others. Examples include robins, blackbirds, and sparrows. These birds mainly feed on insects and other invertebrates, and worms make up a significant portion of their diet.

Do birds only eat worms or insects as well?

Many birds have a diverse diet and don’t rely solely on worms or insects for sustenance. Omnivorous birds, such as grackles and starlings, may also consume fruits, seeds, and other plant material. However, some insectivorous birds like wrens and thrushes do primarily feed on insects, including worms.

How do birds capture and eat worms?

Birds use their beaks to capture and eat worms. They typically dig through the soil or leaf litter to locate worms, then use a quick pecking motion to grab the worm and pull it out. Once the worm is captured, the bird might shake it before swallowing it whole.

Do baby birds also consume worms?

Yes, baby birds depend on their parents to provide them with food, which often includes worms. Parent birds bring the worms back to the nest to feed their young. In some cases, they might even break the worms into smaller pieces before feeding them to their offspring to make it easier for them to swallow.


  1. https://birdhour.com/what-birds-eat-worms/
  2. https://intoyard.com/what-birds-eat-worms-names-of-the-birds-that-eat-worms/
  3. https://birdfact.com/articles/how-do-birds-find-worms

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