All summer, both insect- and seed-eating birds eat enormous amounts of insects for the high level of protein they provide. Some birds such as grosbeaks, tanagers and many warblers eat caterpillars and insects at the top of the tree canopy while others, such as towhees and wood thrushes, concentrate on the bugs and beetles of the forest floor. Other birds are able to take insects in flight, such as swallows, bluebirds, phoebes and martins. Even the seed-eating birds such as chickadees, nuthatches, titmice, blue jays and other birds you see at your feeders eat lots of insects in the summer.
Feeding insect foods to your birds in winter can really boost their protein intake when live insects are not available. These days, there’s such a large selection of insect foods the only difficulty is choosing which foods to offer. Here we’ll list some of the insect foods available to you and your birds.
Live Mealworms: Mealworms contain about 58% pure protein and are an excellent food year round. Because they move, they are a strong visual attractant that birds can’t resist. Feeding live mealworms in winter might seem odd. Yes, if it’s below freezing, the mealworms will freeze, but winter birds are accustomed to eating frozen foods and it won’t bother them. However, the Audubon Society warns against freezing mealworms intentionally and feeding them in spring. Birds will bring the frozen mealworms back to their nestlings and frozen foods are not good for the babies. Live mealworms are not for the squeamish, but birds love them. They do need to be fed and refrigerated in an aerated container. Mealworms generally arrive with complete instructions.
Dried or Roasted Mealworms: Since all the protein in mealworms is contained in the exoskeleton, dried mealworms have almost as much protein as live mealworms and they require no special storage. You can leave them in the container they arrived in and they have a very long shelf life. Mix them with your seed blends, or serve them alone from a dish or on a platform feeder.
Canned Mealworms: Canned mealworms retain their natural juices, so they are much like live mealworms, but of course they don’t move. They’re very convenient to use. Once opened, canned mealworms will go bad after a time and they have to be refrigerated.
Foods containing insects: Mealworms can be combined with other foods to make them even more nutritious. Suet with mealworms is available in cakes, pellets or Nuggets. Duncraft also offers its exclusive Amazing Insect Miracle Crumble which is scrumptious and easy to feed. Or your birds may enjoy mealworms mixed with cranberries and/or blueberries.
WaxSnax: WaxSnax are Waxworms, the larvae of the wax moth. They are a very robust food loved by birds. They are available live, but Duncraft only offers the dried ones. Like dried mealworms, they have a very long shelf life and require no special storage.
Shop insect snacks at duncraft.com for all of the wonderful insect foods you can choose from to feed your birds this winter. Happy Birding!