About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Learn how much birds eat

I took this photo from my kitchen window circa 2004.
While there were "only" 32 in this photo,
we had a grand total of 100 bluebirds that year.
In 2005 & 2006 the flock grew to over 150 bluebirds.
I'll have to say bluebirds are my favorite bird.
A bird’s metabolism is comparatively higher than that of mammals and other vertebrates because of the energy required to fly.

Rather than eating a lot of low-energy food that would make them too heavy for flight, most birds eat smaller quantities of foods higher in carbohydrates, fats, and proteins.

Small birds need to feed more frequently and eat more food for their size than larger birds. A tiny chickadee, for example may need to eat 35% of its weight in a day, while the larger raven requires meals that total just 4% of its weight. Hummingbirds, with their tiny bodies and high activity levels, have the highest metabolic rates of any bird.

In the winter insect eating birds may switch over to seed, suet or nuts high in carbohydrates and fats to survive or migrate south to warmer climates.

Fruit eating birds will spend long periods of their day feeding because most fruits are not high in protein or calories.

Nectar is a fast burning, high energy food that provides quick energy, but is short on protein. Most nectar feeding birds won’t fly back up to Michigan before mid-April.

Only a handful of bird species eat leaves because birds can digest only 30% of the energy in leaves.

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