Do Birds Eat Spiders? Exploring the Role of Arachnids in Bird Diets

Do Birds Eat Spiders? Exploring the Role of Arachnids in Bird Diets

Key takeaways

  • Birds, including insectivorous species like wrens, sparrows, and robins, as well as omnivores like crows, regularly eat spiders, which are a rich source of taurine beneficial for their young.
  • Certain bird species such as Blue Tits and Great Tits provide spiders to their chicks, impacting the chicks' development and learning abilities positively.
  • Birds employ various methods to catch spiders, including aerial swoops and web plucking, and even consume venomous spiders without harm due to their handling and digestion methods.
  • Spiders serve multiple purposes for birds beyond nutrition, such as the use of spider silk in nest building by hummingbirds and other species for its strength and flexibility.

There's more to discover. Continue scrolling for the full article below.

Have you ever seen a bird catch and eat a spider? Chances are, if you haven't, then you're with the majority of people.

Many species of birds regularly consume spiders as part of their diets. Insectivorous birds tend to consume spiders on more of a regular basis. These include wrens, sparrows, blackbirds, robins, blue tits and bluebirds.

Omnivorous birds such as crows and jackdaws also will eat spiders when the opportunity arises. Spiders contain relatively large amounts of taurine, which can be extremely beneficial to birds, and adult birds will often feed them to their babies.

Continue reading to find out what type of spiders these birds eat, how they catch them and more information.

What species of birds eat spiders?

Generally speaking, most birds that consume insects as part of their diets will also eat spiders. Range and habitat play a role in this, as habitats that are more abundant with spiders will mean they are consumed more regularly than not.

Common species of birds that eat spiders:

  • Wrens
  • Sparrows
  • Swallows
  • Blackbirds
  • Bluebirds
  • Robins
  • Blue Tits
  • Crows
  • Jackdaws
  • Owls
  • Tanagers

Blue Tits and Great Tits Eating Spiders To Chicks

Blue Tits and Great Tits are two common birds that visit gardens throughout the UK, and both these two birds feed spiders to their chicks. In certain cases, this can make up around 75% of the chicks diets.

This could explain why blue tits and great tits, in particular, are rather bold birds. Research has revealed that birds that feed spiders to their chicks can positively impact both their learning and behavioural abilities.

Spiders contain taurine, which is an important nutrient for young birds as it impacts the memory and personality of the birds.

Chicks that are fed more spiders when young, are much more likely to grow up to be bolder and are better learners.

This explains why birds are selective about what they feed their babies, as, at early stages, it can hugely affect the development of their offspring.

Blue Tits and Great Tits are not the only birds to feed their chicks spiders as others will as well, they are just amongst the most commonly known to do so, such as Eastern Bluebirds, Barn Swallows Wrens and Robins.

Do Robins eat spiders?

Robins eat many types of insects and this includes spiders. Like blue tits and great tits, robins feed their chicks spiders.

Wren with spider in its beak

Wren with spider in its beak

What types of spiders do birds eat?

Birds will capture and consume both live and dead spiders but tend to prefer live ones.

They tend not to be too fussy and selective about which ones they eat, but it's usually determined by what spider species are around in their habitat and what is small enough to capture.

Some of the common Spiders birds eat:

  • Giant House Spider
  • Sector Spider
  • Daddy long-legs spider or Cellar spider
  • American House Spider
  • Long-Bodied Cellar Spider
  • Brown Recluse
  • Jumping spiders

Do birds eat Wolf Spiders?

Yes, many species of birds eat wolf spiders. Certain breeds of owls, including the screech owl and elf owl, are both common predators.

Do birds eat Huntsman Spiders?

Birds are predators for huntsman spiders as they are a great food source.

Do birds eat orb spiders?

Certain species of birds have developed the habitat to pluck even the biggest of orb spiders from their webs, without getting stuck. They provide huge nutritional benefits to the birds that consume them.

Great Tits feed their young chicks spiders to help develop intelligence and memory

Great Tits feed their young chicks spiders to help develop intelligence and memory

How do birds catch spiders?

Birds catch spiders in many different ways. This includes swooping down and taking the unsuspecting spider from above, chasing the spider along the ground or on a tree and sometimes they will take the spider from their web and nest.

Birds will catch spiders with their beaks and can sometimes be seen bashing them against surfaces to kill them, although the majority of the time, they crush them with the beak.

They will also toss the spider around in the air in an attempt to either stun or kill it.

If feeding their young, they will capture and kill the spider before flying back to the nest to feed the chicks. This makes it easier if they pass it to their partner to ensure it doesn't get away!

Spiders are also generally ineffective at defending themselves against birds, as to bite, they need to see their prey coming and be aware.

Do birds eat poisonous spiders?

There are no poisonous spiders. They are instead venomous, which is completely different.

Birds tend to know which spiders to eat but sometimes eat venomous spiders, which aren't harmful to the birds. This is because venom essentially needs to be injected into the bloodstream to harm you, and eating it will not cause any harm.

Providing the spider doesn't bite the bird on the way down, they will not be harmed. Generally speaking, though, birds either kill the spiders before consuming, or the acids will kill the spider.

Eastern Bluebird taking a spider back to its chicks

Eastern Bluebird taking a spider back to its chicks

Do owls eat spiders?

The majority of owls capture and consume spiders as part of their diet. This includes barn owls, tawny owls, little owls, screech owls and elf owls.

Generally speaking, this doesn't make up a substantial part of their diet, but again, depends on the food sources available in their habitat.

Do pigeons eat spiders?

Pigeons are omnivorous and will eat just about anything and this does include spiders.

Do hummingbirds eat spiders?

It's much less commonly known, but hummingbirds do eat spiders from time to time. Hummingbirds do love and need nectar, but around 80% of their diet is insects and spiders (including baby spiders).

Why do hummingbirds like spider webs?

Hummingbirds utilise spiders webs when constructing a nest, this is because the silk found in a spider web is necessary for the binding of the nest to a tree or other surface and to help hold the nest together.

It takes a certain skill for the hummingbird to do this, as one wrong step can mean that they get caught up in the spiders' web.

Do parrots eat spiders?

Yes, parrots will often happily consume spiders, as they do eat insects.

Why do birds use spiders webs?

Many species of birds can often be spotted utilising the silk from a spiders web during the construction of their nests, and this can be for several reasons:

  • For binding the nest to a tree or suitable surface
  • To line the nest to ensure it stays together and stays strong

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