Do Birds Eat Spiders? [Everything You Need to Know]

birds eat spiders

Birds and spiders often squabble for the same spots in your yard or porch, but do birds eat spiders?

Most insect-eating birds regularly consume spiders as part of their daily diet. Other birds might occasionally eat spiders, but it’s not part of their everyday diet.

If you’re wondering how birds interact with spiders and whether they’re friends or foes, then read on to learn about the natural interplay between these two animals.

Do Birds Eat Spiders?

The short answer to whether birds eat spiders is that some do, but others don’t. 

The long answer? It depends on the type of bird and the available spider and whether or not the spider poses a danger to the bird! 

Generally, Insectivorous birds are notorious spider hunters and eaters. In fact, spiders make about 75% of the food they feed their baby birds during nesting.

Do all Birds Eat Spiders?

It’s a common misconception that all birds eat spiders. But the truth is that many different types of birds exist worldwide, and only a few species eat spiders. 

do all birds eat spiders

Many birds can’t even be considered predators because they primarily feed on seeds, bugs, and small animals like mice.

Bird Species that Eat Spiders

There are several different types of birds that eat spiders. One of the most well-known is the Great Grey Shrike found in North America, Europe, Asia, and Africa. 

bird species that eat spiders

The Great Grey Shrike lives on small rodents, insects, and other animals, including large spiders. 

Other birds that enjoy catching and eating spiders include:

  • Blue Jays are omnivorous and will consume about all types of small animals, including spiders, flies, mealworms, and others.
  • Blackbirds eat insects like spiders, caterpillars, earthworms, snails, berries, fruit, and beetles.
  • Jackdaws eat spiders, invertebrates, and their larvae, carrion, seeds, fruit, and nuts.
  • Tanagers feed on insects, including spiders, caterpillars, butterflies, moths, millipedes, beetles, aphids, wasps, worms, bees, and snails. 
  • Bluebirds eat spiders, suet, mealworms, softened fruits, cornmeal muffins, and sunflower hearts.
  • Blue Tits feed on insects like spiders, fleas, wasps, beetles, millipedes, and sometimes nuts and seeds.
  • Swallows prey on spiders, ants, worms, and various flying insects.
  • Sparrows eat all insects, including spiders and butterflies, as well as seeds, grains, and oatmeals.
  • Robins consume spiders, beetles, worms, seeds, sunflower hearts, crushed peanuts, raisins, suet, and fruits.
  • Crows eat insects like spiders, roaches, caterpillars, worms, beetles, carrion, poison ivy, pecans, snakes, and even small mammals like squirrels.

Wrens eat small insects like spiders, beetles, caterpillars, mealworms, suet, and sunflower pieces.

How Do Birds Hunt and Eat Spiders?

Birds catch spiders in various ways, like swooping down and catching unsuspecting spiders, chasing them along the ground or on trees, and sometimes grabbing them from their webs.

birds hunt and eat spiders

Birds use their sharp beaks and strong, curved talons to catch and eat spiders. The birds will first pierce the spider’s body with their beak before tearing off any legs that are still attached. 

Once the spider’s legs have been removed, the bird will swallow it whole. Birds avoid eating webs or large prey items because they may become entangled in their tiny stomachs. 

To ensure the spider doesn’t escape, the birds catch and kill it before flying back to their nest to feed the baby birds.

In addition, smaller birds do not need as much food as larger ones, so they won’t go out of their way to hunt and kill larger spiders.

What Species of Spider Do Birds Eat?

Different types of birds will have different preferences in terms of which spiders they choose to prey on. 

However, birds aren’t too particular or picky about which spiders they eat, but rather what is around their habitat and what’s easy to catch.

what species spiders birds eat

Generally, below are the common species of spiders eaten by birds worldwide:

Is there Any Nutritional Value of Spiders for Birds?

The nutrient taurine in spiders impacts the memory and personality of young birds. Chicks that eat more spiders when young tend to grow up to be bolder and more intelligent.

Generally, there are many myths that spiders can be a good food source for birds. 

There’s speculation as to why these myths exist, but it’s most likely because some birds will eat anything they find, including all insects like spiders.

What Happens When a Bird Eats a Venomous Spider?

Venomous creatures like spiders and snakes must inject their toxin via bites or stings to poison their victim. 

This means it’s not unusual that a bird can eat a venomous spider or another insect without any adverse effects.

Birds can identify their favorite spiders to eat, but they occasionally eat venomous spiders, which aren’t toxic to them.

How Do Spiders Defend Themselves from Birds?

Spiders use a variety of ways to protect themselves from predators. Some, like the tarantula, simply rely on their size and camouflage to deter potential threats. 

Others, like the orb-weaver spider or the Black Widow spider, use venomous bites as a weapon against would-be predators.

Spiders also use an amazing technique called autotomy to protect themselves from birds. 

This is the spider’s proficiency to self-amputate (break the leg at the coxa-trochanter joint)  its leg that a bird or other predator has seized. 

How Can You Tell if Your Bird has Eaten a Spider?

If your bird seems lethargic or unresponsive, this is a good indication that it may have ingested the arachnid. 

Also, depending on the venom, you may notice the following unusual behaviors with your bird:

  • Increased urination
  • Depression
  • Excitability
  • Blindness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Tremors

How to Attract Spider-Eating Birds to Your Backyard

The first way to attract birds, like Blue Jays, that eat spiders to eliminate the annoying spiders in your yard is by planting the right type of trees and shrubs. 

Most spider-eating birds also like fruit, so if you plant shrubs like American beautyberry and trees that produce fruits, it’ll be easier for them to find food in your yard.

Adding bird feeders is another great way to attract birds into your yard. Bird feeders typically come with patterns known to attract specific birds, including those that eat spiders.

How To Attract Spiders To Your Yard to Help the Birds?

Birds might have difficulty catching spiders or just avoid them because they’re too difficult to find. 

You can help the birds by attracting more spiders into your yard! Here are some tips on how to do that: 

  • Create a spider habitat by adding a loose layer of mulch, like dead leaves or grass clippings, between your backyard plants and rows.
  • Plant plants with lots of flowers (like daffodils and tulips) that attract spider prey like bees and butterflies.
  • Leave piles of wood chips where the birds can spot the tiny bugs.

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