Do Birds Eat Spiders: What You Need To Know!

The intricate web of interactions between different species in the animal kingdom never ceases to amaze. If you want to know whether or not birds eat spiders, the short answer is yes. We will explore the intricacies of birds eating spiders below.

Key Takeaways:

  • Yes. Birds can eat spiders.
  • Not all bird species choose to eat spiders, but many do.

Do Birds Eat Spiders?

Yes. Many bird species choose to eat spiders. No bird species exclusively rely on spiders as a food source. Instead, these opportunistic hunters, many birds are more than happy to make a snack of a spider when the opportunity arises.

Why Do Birds Eat Spiders?

Birds eat spiders for several reasons, primarily driven by their nutritional needs and ecological adaptations. Spiders, being abundant in many habitats, provide a readily available source of protein for birds. With their high protein content, spiders offer birds a valuable and energy-rich food source, especially during critical periods such as breeding and migration.

bird eating spider

Types of Birds That Eat Spiders

A 2018 estimate stated that insectivorous birds may consume a total of 400 to 500 million tons of prey annually. Insectivorous birds, which choose to prey on insects, also have spiders firmly in their crosshairs. Below is a closer look at some of the types of birds that eat spiders:

Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)

Pied Flycatchers are small migratory birds known for their exceptional spider-hunting skills. They actively search for spiders among vegetation and use their agility and quick movements to catch them in mid-air. This behavior is especially prominent during the breeding season when spiders become a vital food source for feeding their young.

White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)

White-Crowned Sparrows are opportunistic feeders that include spiders as part of their varied diet. They forage on the ground, flipping leaf litter and pebbles to uncover hidden spiders. While seeds and insects are their primary food sources, spiders provide them with an additional protein-rich meal.

Blackbirds (Turdus spp.)

Various species of blackbirds, such as the Common Blackbird (Turdus merula), consume spiders as part of their diet. These omnivorous birds opportunistically feed on spiders they encounter while foraging on the ground or probing in leaf litter. Spiders supplement their overall diet, which includes fruits, earthworms, and insects.

Bluebirds (Sialia spp.)

Bluebirds, including Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis), Western Bluebirds (Sialia mexicana), and Mountain Bluebirds (Sialia currucoides), are insectivorous birds that also consume spiders. They actively search for spiders on the ground, among foliage, or even by picking them off spider webs. This diverse diet aids in their overall nutrition and reproductive success.

Warblers (Parulidae family)

Warblers, a diverse family of small passerine birds, include spiders in their diets. Species like the Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) and the Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia) forage actively in trees and shrubs, capturing spiders as they glean insects from leaves and branches. Spiders provide them with an additional protein boost as they migrate or raise their young.

Nuthatches (Sitta spp.)

Nuthatches, such as the White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis) and Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis), are known for their distinctive head-first climbing and probing behavior. While primarily feeding on insects and seeds, nuthatches also exploit spiders found on tree trunks and branches, using their specialized bills to extract them from crevices.

Flycatchers (Empidonax spp.)

Flycatchers, a group of small insectivorous birds, include spiders in their diet to supplement their insect consumption. Species like the Willow Flycatcher (Empidonax traillii) and the Least Flycatcher (Empidonax minimus) snatch spiders mid-flight or from foliage as they actively pursue flying insects. Spiders provide a valuable protein source during their breeding and migration periods.

Chickadees (Poecile spp.)

Chickadees, such as the Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus) and the Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis), exhibit a diverse diet that includes spiders. These small, active birds search for spiders among twigs, bark, and foliage, often hanging upside down to reach hidden crevices. Spiders contribute to their overall nutrition, especially during colder months when other food sources are scarce.

Thrushes (Turdidae family)

Thrushes, including the American Robin (Turdus migratorius), have a broad diet that encompasses insects, earthworms, fruits, and spiders. American Robins often forage on the ground, using their sharp eyesight to spot and capture spiders among leaf litter. They may also pluck spiders from low-hanging vegetation or even snatch them from spider webs. Spiders contribute to the robin’s nutritional needs, particularly during the breeding season when protein-rich food sources are essential.

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Blue Jays are omnivorous birds known for their opportunistic feeding habits. While they primarily consume nuts, seeds, and insects, they also include spiders in their diet. Blue Jays are capable of spotting and capturing spiders on the ground, in trees, or even while in flight. Spiders serve as a valuable protein source for these intelligent and adaptable birds.

Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)

Mockingbirds are highly vocal and agile birds that thrive in a variety of habitats. They have a diverse diet that includes fruits, berries, insects, and spiders. Mockingbirds actively search for spiders among vegetation, probing and inspecting crevices for hidden prey. Their consumption of spiders adds to their overall nutritional balance and contributes to their survival in their respective ecosystems.

Yellow Warbler (Setophaga petechia)

Yellow Warblers are insectivorous birds that frequently include spiders in their diet. During their breeding season, when their energy demands are high, they actively forage among trees and shrubs, inspecting leaves and branches for spiders. They may also glean spiders from spider webs, extracting a valuable source of protein and nutrition to support their reproductive efforts.

Of course, this list doesn’t include every species of bird that’s willing to eat a spider. But it’s a good place to start.

Frequently Asked Questions

You have questions about do birds eat spiders. We have answers!

Do birds eat all spiders?

Some birds may choose to skip over certain spider species due to an incompatible size. If the spider is too big, smaller birds will likely seek out other prey.

Which animals eat spiders?

Many animals eat spiders, including birds, lizards, frogs, and some primates. They actively hunt and prey on spiders as a part of their natural diet, benefiting from the protein-rich and readily available food source that spiders provide.

Do birds keep spiders away?

While birds do consume spiders as part of their diet, their presence alone does not necessarily keep spiders away. While some bird species may occasionally prey on spiders, their foraging patterns and preferences can vary, and they may not actively target spiders as their primary food source. Factors such as habitat type, availability of alternative prey, and the specific behavior and diet of each bird species all influence whether birds play a significant role in regulating spider populations in a given area.

Final Take on Birds That Eat Spiders

Many birds choose to make spiders a part of their diets. And why not? If you were a bird, the otherwise-creepy spider might represent a worthwhile source of protein that could give you the energy you need in a single tasty snack. Plus, birds have sharp beaks and talons that can make quick work of a small spider.