What Birds Eat Cicadas

What Birds Eat Cicadas?

What Birds Eat Cicadas
What Birds Eat Cicadas?

Imagine walking through a forest on a warm summer day, the air filled with the rhythmic buzz of cicadas. As you wander, you can’t help but wonder: what birds feast on these noisy insects? 

cicadas are known for their loud calls and unique life cycle, they also serve as a vital food source for several bird species.

 In this article, we will explore the fascinating relationship between birds and cicadas, delving into why these winged creatures find them so irresistible.

19 Birds That Eat Cicadas

join us on an avian adventure as we explore the twenty-first century’s version of Dinner and a Show: 19 Birds That Eat Cicadas!

1. Woodpeckers

Woodpeckers, with their distinctive drumming sound and impressive ability to bore holes into trees, are fascinating birds that play a crucial role in forest ecosystems. 

One interesting aspect of woodpeckers behavior is their pursuit of food, as they have a diverse diet that goes beyond insects and tree bark.

These noisy insects emerge from underground periodically to mate and lay eggs before returning to the darkness below. 

Woodpeckers have been observed perching on trees during cicada outbreaks, using their sharp beaks to capture these buzzing delicacies mid-flight. 

One reason lies in the abundance of protein that cicadas provide. These insects are rich in nutrients and calories, making them a valuable food source for birds like woodpeckers who need to maintain high energy levels during nesting season or colder months.

2. Chickadees

Chickadees
Chickadees

Chickadees, those small and energetic birds that have a unique taste for insects. Their diet primarily consists of seeds, berries, and nuts, these delightful little creatures are known to seek out one particular delicacy: cicadas. 

cicadas are not an everyday meal for chickadees, they relish the opportunity to indulge in these buzzing treats when the opportunity arises.

As summer arrives and the buzzing chorus of these insects becomes deafening, chickadees swoop in like stealthy warriors.

 With their keen eyesight and agile flight, they make quick work of catching these sizable insects mid-air.

By feeding on cicadas, chickadees contribute to maintaining balance within ecosystems. Cicada larvae can cause damage to trees and shrubs as they burrow underground for years before emerging as adults. 

By consuming both adult cicadas and their larvae, chickadees help control their numbers and prevent potential ecological imbalances in certain regions.

3. Cuckoos

 Cuckoos on branch
Cuckoos on branch

Cuckoos are fascinating birds known for their interesting breeding behavior and peculiar diet.

The loud buzzing and distinctive mating calls of adult male cicadas make them an easy target for cuckoos seeking a quick and nutritious meal.

 With their sharp beaks and agile flight, cuckoos can snatch cicadas out of mid-air or pluck them from foliage with ease.

They lay their eggs in the nests of other birds, ensuring that these unsuspecting hosts end up raising their offspring instead. 

Despite being primarily insectivorous, certain species of cuckoo also consume fruits and berries when they are available. 

4. Bluebirds

Bluebirds
Bluebirds

Bluebirds have a unique taste for insects and a particular affinity for cicadas. They primarily feed on insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and caterpillars, one delicacy stands out among the rest: cicadas.

 These large-bodied insects provide a protein-packed feast for bluebirds during their periodic emergence.

Bluebirds don’t simply snatch cicadas out of the air mid-flight. Instead, they patiently wait for cicada nymphs to emerge from the ground during their molting period.

 Bluebirds strategically position themselves near trees or other objects where these nymphs tend to climb before transforming into adults. 

Studies have shown that a single adult female cicada provides nearly 13% of a bluebird’s daily energy requirements!

5. American Goldfinch

As the warm summer months arrive, so do the melodic songs of the American Goldfinch. These vibrant yellow birds are a common sight throughout North America and are known for their cheerful presence in gardens and meadows.

The American Goldfinch has developed quite a taste for cicadas. Their preference for these buzzing insects can be attributed to various factors such as abundance, nutrition, and even self-defense.

 Cicadas provide an abundant food source during their mating season, which coincides with the time when goldfinches breed and raise their young.

 Cicadas are high in protein content, making them a nutritious meal choice for these small songbirds. 

Some experts also believe that consuming cicadas helps goldfinches reduce parasitic infections due to certain compounds found in these insects.

6. Ravens

Ravens, with their striking black plumage and majestic presence, are known for their high intelligence and ability to mimic sounds. 

These large insects hold a prominent place in the summer soundscapes, filling the air with their distinctive buzz. 

They primarily feed on carrion-like dead animals or small rodents, cicadas seem to offer them an irresistible threat during emergence periods when billions of these insects surface from underground every few years. 

By consuming large quantities of cicadas, ravens contribute to controlling insect populations that could otherwise wreak havoc in forests or agricultural areas. 

7. Blue Jay

Blue Jay on branch
Blue Jay

The Blue Jay, with its vibrant blue plumage and loud, distinctive calls, is a common sight in backyards across North America. These insects emerge in large numbers during the summer months, creating a noisy chorus that can be heard throughout forests and fields.

As the cicadas emerge from the ground every few years in massive numbers, they provide an abundant food source for hungry birds like the Blue Jay.

Blue Jays have a diverse diet that includes insects like cicadas. In fact, during periods when cicadas are abundant, Blue Jays eagerly feast on these crunchy treats.

 They are skilled hunters and will swoop down from tree branches or fly to catch these buzzing insects mid-air. As cicadas provide a high-protein meal for these birds.

These large insects are rich in protein and essential minerals needed by birds to maintain their energy levels and overall health. Consuming cicadas can be advantageous for Blue Jays during breeding seasons when they require extra nutrients to support egg production and chick rearing. 

8. Wrens

Wrens, those tiny and nimble birds, are known for their cheerful songs and quick movements. These small birds play a crucial role in controlling the population of cicadas in their habitats.

 As summer approaches, the distinct buzzing sound of cicadas fills the air. Many find this sound annoying, Wrens see it as an opportunity for a feast.

Cicadas are a staple food source for wrens due to their abundance during the warmer months. The loud buzzing noise made by male cicadas serves as a dinner bell for hungry wrens looking to satisfy their hunger.

 With their sharp beaks and impressive agility, wrens can easily snatch these large insects right out of mid-air.

 In fact, some species of wrens have been observed catching and consuming hundreds of cicadas each day! 

Despite being small in size, wrens prove that they have big appetites when it comes to feasting on cicadas.

9. Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal is a haven for nature enthusiasts, with its lush landscapes and diverse wildlife. These small insects are known for their loud buzzing sound during the summer months, and they can be found in abundance throughout Northern Cardina’s forests.

They primarily feed on seeds and fruits such as sunflower seeds and berries, they are also known to indulge in insects like beetles, grasshoppers, and even cicadas.

One fascinating bird species that prey on cicadas is the brown thrasher. With its long, curved beak and agile movements, this bird swoops down from tree branches to snatch these tasty morsels mid-air.

The northern flicker is a striking woodpecker that uses their strong bills to dig into tree bark, where they finds hidden hordes of cicadas. Their keen sense of hearing allows them to locate these insects deep within trees, making them efficient hunters.

10. Sparrows

Sparrows primarily feed on seeds and grains, in reality, their diet is much more diverse. One intriguing aspect of a sparrow’s diet is their appetite for insects, including cicadas.

 These small birds have been observed snatching cicadas mid-flight, showcasing their remarkable agility and hunting skills.

Cicadas themselves can be considered pests due to the damage they cause to trees and crops during their mating season. Sparrows act as natural pest controllers by feasting on these insects, helping to balance ecosystems and protect plant life. 

This highlights the surprising interdependencies within nature and reminds us of the importance of every species’ role in maintaining harmony in our environment.

11. Falcons

Falcons, iconic birds of prey known for their incredible speed and agility, have a diverse diet that includes an array of small mammals, insects, and birds. One fascinating food item on the falcon menu is the cicada.

 These loud buzzing insects emerge periodically in large numbers, creating a feast for hungry predators like falcons. 

Falcons employ a strategy known as stooping, where they dive from great heights toward their target at remarkable speeds of up to 240 miles per hour! 

cicadas are packed with nutrients such as proteins and carbohydrates due to their relatively large size compared to other bugs found in forests or grasslands. 

12. Hawks

Hawks are fascinating birds of prey known for their sharp vision, incredible speed, and deadly hunting abilities.

Cicadas make a perfect meal for hawks due to their abundance during certain seasons. These insects are packed with protein and energy, making them an ideal food source for these high-flying hunters.

 Hawks swoop down from the sky with precision and snatch cicadas mid-air or pluck them from trees and plants using their sharp talons.

 For instance, the Cooper’s Hawk has been observed chasing a cicada in flight before catching it between its talons.

13. Crows

The diet of crows primarily consists of fruits, nuts, seeds, small animals like mice and rabbits, as well as the occasional garbage delicacy.

 When Brood X cicadas appeared on the scene last year after 17 long years underground in parts of the United States, crows displayed a commendable ability to pivot their diets accordingly.

 These noisy insects emerge every few years in large numbers and create quite a spectacle. As they fill the air with their buzzing calls, crows take full advantage of this abundant feast.

 Researchers observed these black-feathered opportunists actively seeking out these noisy insects to add variety to their menus.

14. Robins

Robins, those vibrant songbirds with their distinctive red breasts, are notorious for their voracious appetite. These small insects make up a significant part of the robin’s diet during the summer months when cicadas are in abundance.

 With their powerful beaks and keen eyesight, robins can spot and snatch these buzzing insects mid-flight effortlessly.

As highly nutritious creatures, cicadas provide an ample supply of essential nutrients such as amino acids and minerals. This protein-rich feast aids in robust feather growth and enhances overall reproductive success for these beloved birds. 

In devouring cicadas, robins play an important ecological role by controlling the population of these noisy insects who often become pests in large numbers.

Studies suggest that consuming insects like cicadas might contribute to better song production due to increased muscle function related to singing behavior. 

15. Jays

Jays
Jays

Jays are fascinating birds known for their striking blue color and raucous calls. They can be found in various habitats across North America, from dense forests to suburban parks.

 While jays feed on a wide range of food items, one intriguing aspect of their diet is their fondness for cicadas.

Jay’s diet is its penchant for feasting on cicadas. These noisy insects emerge periodically in large numbers, creating a symphony of sound that lures bird predators.

 However, many birds struggle to catch these agile creatures mid-air, and jays have developed an ingenious way of preying on them. 

They wait patiently near the base of trees or bushes where cicadas reside and skillfully snatch them off branches or even pluck them from the ground.

16. Owls

Owls
Owls

Owls, those mysterious creatures of the night, are known for their striking appearance and exceptional hunting skills. While many people may associate them with mice and other small rodents, few may know that owls also have a taste for cicadas.

 These buzzing insects emerge in swarms during certain years, providing an abundant source of food for these feathered hunters.

The relationship between owls and cicadas is a fascinating one. As the sun sets and darkness prevails, owls take flight in search of their preferred prey. With impeccable precision, they swoop down from above to snatch unsuspecting cicadas out of mid-air.

 The exoskeleton of these insects adds crunchiness to the owl’s diet, offering a unique texture that contrasts with their usual soft meals.

17. Warblers

Warblers, those agile and vibrant birds, are often associated with their melodious songs during the springtime. some warblers have a surprising taste for cicadas.

These small insects are known for their loud buzzing calls, and warblers take advantage of this abundant food source. While most warbler species prefer a diet consisting of insects like beetles and caterpillars, several species have developed an insatiable appetite for cicadas.

18. Tufted Titmouse

The tufted titmouse, a small songbird found in North America, has a varied diet that includes a surprising delicacy: cicadas.

 While the primary diet of these birds consists of insects, seeds, and berries, their inclusion of cicadas as part of their menu offers an intriguing glimpse into their adaptable nature.

 As summer descends upon us and the signature buzz of these buzzing insects fills the air, it’s fascinating to observe how the tufted titmice skillfully snatch their prey mid-flight.

Feeding on cicadas poses challenges even for this agile bird. With acrobatic prowess, tufted titmice swoop through the canopy, plucking cicadas straight out of the air using their sharp beaks.

19. Gray Catbird

The gray catbird, found in the United States and Canada, is a fascinating avian species known for its unique vocal abilities and opportunistic feeding habits.

 They primarily feed on berries and insects like beetles and spiders, one intriguing aspect of their diet is their appetite for cicadas. As periods of cicada emergence occur every few years, these birds take full advantage of the abundance of this noisy insect. 

FAQ’S

1. What birds commonly eat cicadas in Ohio?

Some common bird species that feed on cicadas in Ohio include robins, blue jays, cardinals, orioles, woodpeckers, and mockingbirds.

2-What do birds eat in Maryland?

Birds in Maryland have diverse diets depending on their species. They feed on seeds, fruits, insects, small mammals, fish, amphibians, and even other birds.

3- Why do birds feed on cicadas?

Birds feed on cicadas because they are a rich source of protein and nutrients.

4-What are the predators of cicadas?

Birds, spiders, wasps, and mantises are known to prey on cicadas.

5-Are birds afraid of cicadas?

No, birds are not afraid of cicadas. They often consider them a tasty and nutritious meal.

Final Words

Cicadas are a portion of good food for birds, but how many cicadas there are depends on things like temperature and climate change. It’s important to keep studying how birds and cicadas are connected to understand their roles in nature. 

If we protect where birds live and make sure there are lots of different plants and animals, we can make sure that birds and cicadas keep living together.

 Let’s appreciate how birds help control insects and support efforts to protect their homes.

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