If you’ve ever seen a hummingbird in action, you know that these tiny birds are some of the most fascinating creatures on earth. With their vibrant colors and incredible flying abilities, it’s not hard to see why they capture our attention. But have you ever wondered what these birds eat? More specifically, do hummingbirds eat ants?
The short answer is yes, hummingbirds do eat ants. However, they are not a staple in their diet. Hummingbirds primarily feed on flower nectar and insects such as flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. Ants make up a very small portion of their overall diet.
In fact, ants are not a preferred food source for hummingbirds and they will usually only consume them if no other food is readily available.
Here are some favourite foods that humming birds prefer :
- Nectar from flowers: Hummingbirds have long beaks and tongues that are perfectly adapted to reach deep into the nectar-rich center of flowers. They primarily feed on red, orange, and purple flowers as these colors are more attractive to them.
- Insects: As mentioned earlier, hummingbirds also rely on insects for a portion of their diet. These small birds are known for their incredible flying abilities, which allow them to catch insects in mid-air. This is especially beneficial during breeding season when they need a high protein diet.
- Tree sap: Some species of hummingbirds have been observed feeding on tree sap. They use their sharp beaks to peck at the sap and drink the sugary liquid.
- Fruit juices: Hummingbirds have been known to drink fruit juices from fruits that have been damaged by insects. This is not a common food source, but it does provide some variety in their diet.
Why do Humming Birds Eat Ants?
These birds have a varied diet and will eat whatever food is available to them. Ants are a good source of protein, which is essential for hummingbirds’ high energy needs. Additionally, ants can often be found near flowers, making them an easy snack for the birds as they feed on nectar.
What Type of Ants Humming Birds Eat
Red ants, in particular, are a favorite of these birds. Red ants contain formic acid, which gives them a spicy taste that hummingbirds seem to enjoy. While hummingbirds do eat ants, there is also evidence that they use the insects for another purpose – as a natural insecticide.
Hummingbirds have been observed rubbing ants on their bodies and feathers, potentially using them to repel parasites and keep themselves clean. This behavior is also seen in other bird species, such as woodpeckers and warblers.
It’s important to note that not all hummingbird species eat ants. Some, like the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, have been observed eating ants more frequently than others. The availability of ant populations in their habitat may also play a role in how often hummingbirds eat them.