Avid birdwatchers will probably be familiar with the importance of feeding hummingbird plenty of their favorite food – that is, nectar!
Yet, if you’ve managed to attract these most exquisite of feathered friends to your feeders, you may also be keen on offering something other than just nectar. The question is, what else can you feed a hummingbird?
The Hummingbird Diet Is Forever Offering up Some Surprises
Initially, it was believed by many that hummingbirds survived on nectar alone. Yet, with a record number of these species recorded in the most simplistic of back yard environments, more and more studies have been undertaken concerning their eating habits.
As a result of such research, we’ve been able to understand and appreciate more about the life of a hummingbird, alongside gaining access to some crucial dietary information in the process.
While ornithologists still insist that nectar is a crucial food in a hummingbird’s diet, it has also been noted that these birds extend their menus to that of the bug world!
Though this may not come as a surprise to those fortunate enough to watch these stunning creatures at their bird feeders, what may be news to some is the extent of the hummingbird’s palate when it comes to insects!
Why Bugs Are Crucial in a Hummingbird Diet
With so much emphasis placed on nectar, it’s often easy to forget the vital role bugs play in a hummingbird diet. Insects are, in fact, a crucial food source that hummingbirds regularly consume, almost as much as they do nectar. Therefore, they boast of those essential elements, including:
- Amino Acids
The Bug Selection Preferred by Hummingbirds
Not that we know the hummingbird’s preference for the bug delicacy, you may be wondering just what insects get their attention and help then fuel up.
The most commonly eaten bugs by hummingbirds include:
Furthermore, expert bird watchers have discovered that out of all the bugs and insects they consume, hummingbirds prefer that of the spider and harvestmen. In fact, many claim between a staggering 60% to 80% of the hummingbird’s diet will consist of spiders!
How Hummingbirds Consume Insects in the Wild
Most hummingbirds consume anywhere in the region of several dozen to as much as several thousand bugs in just one day. So, it’s certainly a huge food source worth investigating further if you want to make the most of utilizing insects to attract hummingbirds to your yard.
In general, hummingbirds will acquire their insects through the most natural of means. This includes:
- Extracting the insect from the flower when searching for nectar
- Using their acute vision to deter and identify their insect prey
- Hovering around tree bark, leaves, branches, walls, and corners for cobwebs (indicating both bugs and spiders!)
- Catching insects in flight, a term referred to as hawking
- Frequenting tree sap-holes
- Selecting fruits that insects are attracted to
Offering Bugs to Your Hummingbird Visitors
Now you know more about the bug preference of a hummingbird, you may be wondering how you can help promote their love of this select food type?
While a hummingbird’s insect needs are primarily naturally accessed, there are many ways you, too, can help them with their daily bug intake.
However, one thing many hummingbird experts will agree on – and one worth noting before you make a financial outlay – is that hummingbirds will not accept insects from feeders! This includes mealworms, crickets, and other dried insect types.
For those who’ve tried to provide mealworms inside of bird feeders, this may be obvious from the lack of response such a feeder has had from nearby hummingbirds. The simple reason for this is that they prefer this food type in its most natural form! Thus, anything you can do to emulate the most natural of insect feasts is greatly favored here!
We’ve talked before on this site about the importance of offering an appropriate hummingbird feeder that caters to the specifics of this bird type. But, you can also make the same provisions when it comes to offering bugs and insects.
Fortunately, there are two ways considered the most effective, including:
Final Thoughts on Feeding Hummingbirds Insects
The idea here is not to head out and purchase those many dried insect combinations sold in most pet stores. Rather, cultivate a succession of insects in the most natural of environments, therefore mimicking how hummingbirds themselves select and feed on bugs.
Ultimately, the more you can offer a varied diet, you not only ensure better all-round health for your hummingbirds but, most importantly keep them coming back to your yard time and time again.