Birds are beautiful creatures that bring life and color to our gardens and parks. They are lovely to look at and play an important role in the ecosystem by pollinating plants, controlling insects, and dispersing seeds. But what can we do to help them thrive?
Feeding mealworms to birds is one way to support our feathered friends. Live and dried mealworms are excellent sources of fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
In this blog post, we will dive into the world of feeding and storing mealworms and explore the benefits of this food source. From the types of birds that can be attracted to mealworms to the best ways to offer them, we will cover it all.
Whether you’re a bird breeder or simply looking to add some more wildlife to your backyard, this post is a must-read. So, get ready to become an expert on feeding birds dried or live mealworms and make a positive impact on our feathered friends.
Key Takeaways on Feeding Dried Mealworms to Birds
What are mealworms?
Mealworms are the larvae of the mealworm beetle or darkling beetle (tenebrio molitor) commonly used as feeder insects for reptiles, birds, and fish. Some mealworms are larvae of the darkling beetles or flour beetles (Tribolium confusum).
Even though they are not worms like their name implies, they can still be found in various animal feed such as bird seed mixes. Mealworms have a high nutritional value and rich in protein. They make great bird food for old and young birds due to their crunchy texture!
What birds eat mealworms?
Many bird species consume mealworms as a source of nutrition, including wild birds such as bluebirds, chickadees, woodpeckers, and wrens. Domestic birds, such as chickens, ducks, and parrots, also readily consume mealworms. Captive birds of prey, such as owls and hawks, are often fed mealworms as a supplement to their diet.
What are the benefits of feeding meal worms to wild birds?
One of the best ways to provide wild birds with a nutritious meal is by feeding them mealworms. Mealworms are an excellent source of protein, calcium, and other essential nutrients, making them an ideal food for wild birds.
Protein is important for birds as it helps them maintain strong feathers and muscle development. The high calcium content of mealworms is also beneficial as it helps to strengthen bones and aid in egg production.
Mealworms are a great source of energy, essential fatty acids and healthy fats, which are important for birds’ immune systems and provide them with the energy they need to fly, search for food, and build nests.
Putting out bird feeders filled with mealworms is a great way to attract birds and other new species to your yard or garden. It will only take one bird to discover your garden and soon flocks of other different birds will join in. Mealworms are an attractive natural food source for them. So, you can feel good knowing that you’re providing your feathered friends with a healthy and nutritious food source.
Which is better for birds — live or dried mealworms?
The debate over whether live or dried mealworms are better for birds is ongoing and largely depends on the species of bird and the situation in which the mealworms are being offered.
Live mealworms offer several benefits to many birds. They are a rich source of protein and allow birds to engage in natural foraging behaviors. Live mealworm movement also provides birds stimulation and can help prevent boredom. Also, live mealworms contain moisture like real worms, which is important for birds that rely on their food for hydration.
On the other hand, dried worms are a convenient and long-lasting option for bird feeding. They are less messy and do not require refrigeration, making them a good choice for bird feeders who do not want to handle live insects. Dried meal worms are easy to store and transport, making them ideal for birders who travel with their feathered friends.
However, dried meal worms are less nutritionally complete than live worms. They typically have a lower moisture content and may not provide the same hydration level to birds.
How often can backyard birds eat dried mealworms?
Backyard birds eat insects and they should enjoy their mealworms regularly, though it is good practice to change their diet. Mealworms are rich in protein and make a great snack for birds, but they should not the only food in a bird’s diet and should only be offered in limited quantities.
A general rule of thumb is that every other day would be a good frequency for mealworm treats. On other days, provide other foods such as suet, seeds and nuts, which are also full of nutrients and are incredibly easy to prepare.
How to feed birds mealworms
When you serve dried mealworms, it’s important to provide them in a safe, accessible, and hygienic manner. Here are some of the best ways to serve mealworms to birds:
- Use a bird feeder. A mealworm feeder specifically designed for mealworms is the most convenient and safe option for feeding birds. These feeders have small openings for the mealworms to come through, preventing other larger birds from getting inside and helping to keep the mealworms fresh and dry.
- Offer live mealworms. Live mealworms are the preferred food source for many garden birds. They can be placed directly on a platform feeder or scattered on the ground for ground-feeding birds. However, it’s important to keep the live mealworms covered and protected from the elements, such as rain or snow, to prevent them from dying.
- Freeze-dried meal worms. Freeze-dried mealworms are a convenient option for bird feeders because they have a long shelf life and do not require refrigeration. They can be offered in a bowl or scattered on a platform feeder. Some birds may not be as attracted to freeze-dried mealworms as they are to live ones, so it’s important to monitor the birds’ behavior to see if they prefer this option.
- Offer mealworms in a dish. Mealworms can also be offered in a shallow dish or container. It’s important to regularly clean and refill the dish to prevent the mealworms from becoming moldy and potentially harmful to the birds.
It’s important to monitor the birds and their behavior when offering mealworms. Make sure to clean their feeding stations and remove any leftover mealworms or debris as they will attract pests.
How to store live mealworms
Mealworms provide a nutritious snack for wild birds and their hungry nestlings and can be stored properly to ensure they remain healthy and nutritious. Here is a step-by-step guide on how to store and raise mealworms for birds properly:
- Purchase mealworms from reputable pet stores and check that they are in good condition. Inspect the worms for any signs of discoloration or rot, and discard any unsuitable for consumption.
- Store mealworms in separate containers at a cool temperature, ideally between 45-55 degrees Fahrenheit. This will help prevent them from becoming too active and consuming too much oxygen.
- Place the mealworms in a container such as a shallow bowl, plastic container, or paper bag with ample air circulation.
- Fill the container with enough bedding material such as oats, bran, wheat bran, or bread crumbs, so the mealworms have something to burrow in and hide.
- Place the container in a cool, dark place. This will help to keep the mealworms from becoming too active and expending too much energy.
- Feed the mealworms regularly, as they need to get enough nutrition to survive. A few apple or potato slices can also help keep the right humidity and provide nutrition to the mealworms.
- Ensure the bedding material remains damp and fresh. Change it periodically to prevent mold or decay.
- Check on the mealworms regularly, discard any that appear dead, or feed mealworms to your birds.