Have you ever seen hummingbirds taking fluffs from cattail plants? In nesting seasons, these tiniest birds take these seeds for building their nests between March and July. In fact, they eat sweet nectar from flowers and backyard feeders, and small insects in the air.
Now, the question is, “Do hummingbirds eat seeds?” The answer is no. Hummingbirds don’t eat seeds at all. This is because their bills are not made for cracking and eating seeds. Not only that, but their quickest metabolism won’t also allow seeds to be properly digested.
By the way, this page is a supplement to our article on what hummingbirds eat. Once you finish reading here, we recommend you take a look at that article to know what these tiniest birds actually eat and what they avoid.
- When To Stop Feeding Hummingbirds? [Read here]
- Why Hummingbirds Attracted To Red? [Read here]
- When To Feed Hummingbirds? [Read here]
Why Can’t Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?
Hummingbirds’ bills are not designed for cracking and tearing. These tiny birds usually dip their bills into flowers and sip nectar. However, eating seeds requires cracking them with a lot of effort, and obviously, strong bills matter. That’s why hummingbirds cannot eat seeds.
Besides, hummingbirds don’t have a gall bladder that helps seeds to be quickly metabolized. On the other hand, hummingbirds have the most rapid metabolisms in the aviary world, and their digestive tracts pass wastes quickly. If hummingbirds feasted on a chunk of seeds, the digestive tracts wouldn’t allow it.
Then, How Do Hummingbirds Eat Insects?
As hummingbirds have only a few taste buds and salivary glands, they – the hummingbirds – entirely swallow the insects. Sometimes, they need to toss their heads backward to swallow the insects. Thanks to the long, thin bills, they can only eat specific small invertebrates.
Needless to say, hummingbirds get essential protein from insects to build their muscle and develop their feathers. Insects are much softer than seeds. That’s why hummingbirds don’t feel any problem swallowing insects.
If Hummingbirds Don’t Eat Seeds, Why Do They Come to Seed Feeders?
An anonymous guy put the question in Houzz.com. He stated that he was pretty surprised to see multiple hummingbirds at his thistle feeder. It looked like the birds were eating from the feeder. He was in his car at that time, far away from the feeder.
Why did he see something like that? Maybe, there were some insects hatching among the seeds or some flying insects around the feeder. And the hummingbirds were probably eating them. That’s it! What the guy saw was not right.
Can Tooth-Billed Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?
Like other hummingbird species, tooth-billed hummingbirds cannot eat seeds. Although these hummingbirds have long, straight bills with small tooth-like serrations, this doesn’t mean they will be able to eat seeds.
In fact, male tooth-billed hummingbirds stab other competitors, particularly other males, with their pointed bills. Sometimes, they knock other birds off a territory. You may see some hummingbirds with hooked bills, tearing out other hummingbirds’ feathers.
Now that you know hummingbirds don’t eat seeds, you should provide these little creatures with fresh, sweet nectar and small insects in hummingbird-friendly feeders. However, if you still have any queries regarding this topic, leave comments below.