Can Birds Eat Mealworms

Last Updated on April 14, 2023 by

Have you ever wondered what birds eat besides seeds and fruits?

Mealworms are a popular snack for many bird species, but can they actually digest them? The answer may surprise you.

Firstly, mealworms are actually the larvae of darkling beetles. They are high in protein and fat, making them a nutritious food source for birds.

Many backyard bird enthusiasts offer mealworms to attract specific species such as bluebirds and chickadees. However, not all birds will eat mealworms, and some may require live ones while others prefer dried or roasted options.

So, can birds eat mealworms? Let’s take a closer look at their digestive systems and feeding habits to find out.

What Are Mealworms?

Have you ever heard of mealworms? They are small, worm-like creatures that are often used as a source of nutrition for pets like birds and reptiles. Despite their name, they are not actually worms – instead, they are the larvae of darkling beetles.

Mealworms can be found in many different environments, from forests to deserts. They feed on decaying plant matter and other organic material. In fact, they are so good at breaking down waste materials that some people even use them to compost!

Although mealworms may seem unappetizing to us humans, many animals find them to be a tasty treat. Birds in particular enjoy eating mealworms because they provide a high amount of protein and fat – two essential nutrients for these feathered creatures.

But what exactly makes mealworms such a nutritious snack? Let’s take a closer look at their nutritional value.

The Nutritional Value Of Mealworms

Mealworms are a popular choice for feeding birds due to their high nutritional value. They are an excellent source of protein, which is essential for the growth and maintenance of healthy bird feathers, muscles, and bones. Additionally, mealworms contain vitamins and minerals like calcium and iron that contribute to overall avian health.

One significant advantage of feeding birds mealworms is that they provide a more natural diet than commercial birdseed blends. Many wild birds consume insects as part of their regular diet, so offering mealworms can help support their natural dietary needs.

In addition to being nutritious, mealworms are also relatively easy to store and transport compared to live insects.

Overall, incorporating mealworms into your bird feeding routine can have many benefits for the feathered friends in your backyard. However, it’s important to note that not all species will eat these wriggly treats. Understanding which types of birds enjoy munching on mealworms can help you tailor your feeding approach and maximize its effectiveness.

Which Bird Species Eat Mealworms?

It is common knowledge that birds love to eat worms. However, not all worms are created equal when it comes to bird’s diets. One type of worm that has become increasingly popular among bird enthusiasts as a supplementary food source for their feathered friends is mealworms.

Mealworms are the larvae form of darkling beetles and are rich in protein and fat, making them an excellent choice for birds’ nutrition. The high nutritional value they offer makes mealworms particularly appealing to insectivorous songbirds such as bluebirds, chickadees, woodpeckers, and wrens.

If you’re considering adding mealworms to your backyard feeding station or offering them directly to wild birds, here are four species known to enjoy these tasty treats:

  • Bluebirds
  • Chickadees
  • Woodpeckers
  • Wrens

Incorporating mealworms into your bird’s diet can be an easy way to supplement their regular food intake with additional nutrients essential for growth and overall health.

In the next section, we’ll explore whether live or dried mealworms make the best option for feeding our feathered friends.

Live Vs. Dried Mealworms

  1. When it comes to nutrition, live mealworms have more protein than dried, making them a better choice for birds.

  2. Birds who are used to being fed live food may be more likely to take to live mealworms than dried ones.

  3. Feeding live mealworms can be a bit more time consuming than dried, however.

  4. Dried mealworms may be cheaper to buy than live, but they don’t last as long.

  5. Live mealworms can be stored in the refrigerator and last longer, making them more cost effective.

  6. For birds who are used to being fed live food, live mealworms are the way to go for nutrition and cost.

Nutrition Value

If you’re wondering whether birds can eat mealworms, the answer is a resounding yes! Mealworms are actually a great source of protein and nutrients for many different types of birds.

However, there’s another question you might be asking yourself: should you feed your feathered friends live or dried mealworms? Let’s take a closer look at the nutritional value of each option.

First up, let’s talk about live mealworms. These wriggling little critters are definitely more appealing to some birds than their dried counterparts. In terms of nutrition, live mealworms contain higher levels of moisture and fat than dried ones do. This makes them an excellent choice for birds who need extra hydration or energy – such as during breeding season, when they’re nesting or raising chicks.

On the other hand, dried mealworms have their own benefits too. Because they’ve been dehydrated, they tend to pack in more protein per gram than live worms do. They also keep longer without refrigeration and won’t crawl away while you’re trying to serve them!

If you’re looking for a convenient way to provide your backyard bird buddies with a nutritious snack year-round, then dried mealworms might be the better option for you.

In summary, both live and dried mealworms offer valuable nutrition to our avian friends. The decision between which type to use ultimately depends on your individual situation and goals. Whichever one you choose though, rest assured that your feathered pals will thank you for providing them with such delicious (and healthy) treats!

Feeding Habits

So we’ve discussed the nutritional value of live and dried mealworms for birds. Now, let’s talk about their feeding habits – do birds prefer one type over the other?

In general, different bird species will have varying preferences when it comes to eating mealworms. Some might be more attracted to wriggling, live worms that they can catch and eat on the spot. Others might not care either way as long as they get a tasty snack.

That being said, if you’re trying to attract specific types of birds to your backyard feeder, it could be worth experimenting with both live and dried mealworms to see which ones they like best.

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You might find that certain species show a clear preference for one or the other – or maybe they’ll happily gobble up whatever you provide! Either way, offering mealworms is sure to make your feathered friends happy and healthy.


Now that we’ve talked about the nutritional value and feeding habits of live and dried mealworms, let’s move on to another important factor – the cost.

It’s no secret that keeping birds fed can add up over time, especially if you’re providing them with high-quality food sources like mealworms.

When it comes to comparing the cost of live vs. dried mealworms, there are a few things to consider.

First off, live worms will generally be more expensive than their dried counterparts due to the added labor involved in raising and shipping them.

Additionally, since they have a shorter shelf life, you might need to buy smaller quantities more frequently which can also drive up costs.

On the other hand, while dried mealworms may seem more affordable at first glance, keep in mind that they also tend to come in larger quantities which could lead to waste if your birds aren’t big eaters.

Ultimately, whether you choose live or dried mealworms will depend on your budget as well as what works best for attracting and nourishing the types of birds you want to see in your backyard.

How To Offer Mealworms To Birds

In the previous section, we discussed the difference between live and dried mealworms. Now let’s delve into whether or not birds can actually eat them. The answer is yes! Many bird species enjoy a tasty meal of mealworms.

Mealworms are actually one of the most popular foods to offer backyard birds. They are high in protein and fat, which provide important nutrients for these feathered friends. In fact, many people who raise chickens or other poultry also feed them mealworms as a supplement to their regular diet.

To offer mealworms to birds, you can place them in a shallow dish or sprinkle them on the ground near your bird feeder. Some birders even use special mealworm feeders that dispense the worms when birds land on them.

Whatever method you choose, be sure to only offer small amounts at first until you see which types of birds visit and how much they consume.

As we’ve seen, feeding mealworms to birds can be an excellent way to provide essential nutrients for our feathered friends. However, it’s important to note that some species may have trouble digesting large quantities of insects due to differences in their digestive systems compared to mammals.

In the next section, we’ll explore more about these digestive systems and what types of food are best suited for different types of birds.

Digestive Systems Of Birds

With their beady eyes and sharp talons, birds are a fascinating group of animals. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from tiny hummingbirds to majestic eagles.

But have you ever wondered how they digest their food? Unlike mammals, who chew their food before it enters the stomach, birds lack teeth and rely on a specialized digestive system to break down their meals.

Birds’ digestive systems are designed for efficiency. Food is first broken down mechanically by the muscular gizzard, which grinds up tough items like seeds or insects.

From there, the food travels into the crop – a temporary storage chamber that allows birds to eat quickly without being weighed down by undigested material. Finally, digestion occurs in the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

But can all birds digest mealworms? While many species do quite well with this protein-rich snack, some may struggle due to differences in gut bacteria or other factors. It’s always best to research your specific bird’s dietary needs before adding any new treats to its menu.

With proper care and attention given to diet, our feathered friends will thrive for years to come!

Can All Birds Digest Mealworms?

Mealworms have become a popular food choice for birds among bird enthusiasts. However, not all birds can digest mealworms properly. The ability of a bird to consume and digest mealworms depends on its natural diet.

Birds that are insectivores, such as bluebirds and robins, will easily eat and digest mealworms. These types of birds require high protein diets, making mealworms an excellent source of nutrition for them. On the other hand, seed-eating birds like finches or doves may struggle with digestion since their digestive systems are geared towards processing seeds.

Furthermore, it is important to note that even some insectivorous birds might be allergic to certain insects, including mealworms. In such cases, feeding these birds mealworms could lead to health issues or even death in extreme circumstances. Therefore, before feeding any type of food to your feathered friends, ensure it is suitable for their specific dietary needs and preferences.

Transitioning into the next section about potential risks of feeding birds mealworms; while they provide numerous nutritional benefits for some species of birds, there are also some potential threats associated with feeding them this treat. It is essential to understand these risks before incorporating mealworms into your bird’s diet regularly.

Potential Risks Of Feeding Birds Mealworms

Firstly, it is important to note that while mealworms may be a nutritious snack for birds, there are potential risks associated with feeding them. One of the biggest concerns is the risk of disease transmission. Mealworms can carry harmful bacteria and parasites that could make your feathered friends sick.

Additionally, if not properly stored or prepared, mealworms can become contaminated with mold which can also cause health issues in birds. It’s crucial to ensure that any mealworms you offer are fresh and have been raised in clean conditions.

Lastly, some bird species may develop an unhealthy dependence on mealworms if they are offered too frequently. This can lead to imbalances in their diet and result in long-term health problems. As such, it’s best to use mealworms as a treat rather than a staple food source.

Moving forward into alternatives to mealworms for bird feeding, there are plenty of other options available that provide similar nutritional benefits without the same associated risks. From crickets and grasshoppers to fruits and nuts, there are many tasty treats out there that will keep your backyard birds happy and healthy.

Alternatives To Mealworms For Bird Feeding

If mealworms are not an option for feeding birds, there are several alternatives available that provide similar nutritional benefits. These include:

  1. Crickets: A great source of protein and a favorite among many bird species.

  2. Waxworms: High in fat content, making them an excellent choice during winter months when birds need more energy to stay warm.

  3. Black soldier fly larvae: Rich in calcium and other essential minerals, they can help with egg production in breeding females.

  4. Earthworms: A classic food choice for many wild birds, rich in nutrients and easy to find in most backyard gardens.

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By offering these alternative foods, bird enthusiasts can attract a variety of different species while still providing the necessary nutrition for healthy growth and development.

Additionally, it is important to note that certain types of food may be better suited for specific bird species or situations. For example, dried fruits such as raisins or cranberries are ideal for attracting finches and sparrows during migration season. Meanwhile, suet cakes containing seeds and nuts are perfect for woodpeckers during the colder months when insects are harder to come by.

Ultimately, choosing the right type of food will depend on factors such as location, seasonality, and the particular species of bird being targeted. However, by experimenting with different options and observing which ones are most popular among local wildlife populations, it is possible to create a balanced diet plan that meets the needs of all feathered friends who visit your backyard oasis.

As we have seen, mealworms are just one of many potential food choices for feeding birds; however they do come with some risks as well as benefits. In the next section we will explore these pros and cons in more detail to determine whether this popular snack should be included in your bird feeder lineup.

Conclusion: The Benefits And Risks Of Feeding Birds Mealworms

With all the information we have gathered, it’s clear that mealworms are a nutritious and protein-packed snack for birds. They offer many health benefits, such as promoting feather growth and providing energy during migration season.

However, there are also risks associated with feeding birds mealworms. If not properly stored or handled, they can become contaminated with harmful bacteria or fungi. Additionally, some birds may develop an addiction to mealworms and refuse to eat their natural diet.

Despite these risks, many bird enthusiasts choose to incorporate mealworms into their bird-feeding routine. As long as proper precautions are taken, such as storing them in a cool place and offering them in moderation along with a balanced diet, mealworms can be a great supplement for your feathered friends.

Feeding birds is both rewarding and enjoyable, but it’s important to do so responsibly. By understanding the benefits and risks of feeding mealworms to our avian friends, we can make informed decisions about what we put out in our feeders.

Let’s continue to nourish our winged companions while keeping their health and well-being at the forefront of our minds.

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Can I Buy Mealworms For Bird Feeding?

Looking to buy mealworms for bird feeding? You’re in luck! Mealworms are a popular choice among backyard bird enthusiasts and can be found at many pet stores or online retailers.

They provide a great source of protein for birds, making them an excellent addition to any bird feeder. Whether you have finches, sparrows, or even blue jays visiting your yard, offering mealworms as part of their diet is sure to attract a variety of feathered friends.

So next time you’re restocking your bird food supply, consider adding some mealworms into the mix – your avian visitors will thank you!

How Long Can I Store Mealworms Before They Go Bad?

You can store mealworms for quite some time before they go bad. It’s important to keep them refrigerated and in a well-ventilated container with bedding that is changed regularly.

Mealworms can last up to several months if stored properly, but it’s recommended to use them within 1-2 months to ensure optimal nutrition for your birds or other pets.

Can Mealworms Be Harmful To Birds If Fed In Excess?

If you feed your birds mealworms, it’s important to make sure they aren’t consuming too many.

While these treats are a great source of protein and fat for our feathered friends, feeding them in excess can lead to health problems such as obesity or an imbalance in their diet.

As with any type of food, moderation is key when it comes to offering mealworms to your bird.

It’s also important to note that if your bird has never had mealworms before, introduce them slowly and monitor their reaction to ensure they don’t have any adverse effects.

Do Different Species Of Birds Prefer Live Or Dried Mealworms?

Different species of birds have varying preferences when it comes to mealworms. Some prefer live mealworms, while others are content with dried ones.

For example, bluebirds and robins tend to prefer live mealworms, while chickadees and nuthatches will eat either option.

It’s important to note that feeding too many mealworms (live or dried) can still be harmful to birds if done in excess, so moderation is key.

Can Mealworms Be Used As A Sole Source Of Nutrition For Birds?

Mealworms can be a nutritious addition to any bird’s diet, but they should not be used as the sole source of nutrition.

While some species may prefer live or dried mealworms, it is important to provide a varied diet that includes seeds, fruits, and vegetables.

Using mealworms as the only food source could lead to nutritional deficiencies and health complications in birds.

So while these wriggly treats are a tasty snack for feathered friends, they should not be relied upon as the main course of their diet.


In conclusion, feeding birds mealworms can be a great addition to their diet. You can find them at your local pet store or online. However, it’s important to note that storing them for too long can cause them to go bad and potentially harm the birds. So make sure to only buy what you need.

While some species of birds prefer live mealworms, others may enjoy dried ones just as much. It’s also important not to feed these worms in excess as they should be part of a balanced diet rather than the sole source of nutrition for our feathered friends.

So let’s give our bird buddies something special with mealworms – but remember: everything in moderation, even wormy treats!

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