Do Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?

Pet Food


February 28, 2022

Compared to other birds, hummingbirds have long beaks and fast-moving wings. They are also somewhat different in their feeding habits and have a humming sound that makes them different. Hummingbirds love to take seeds from the plants and build their nests. You must be wondering: do hummingbirds eat seeds?

Do Hummingbirds Eat Seeds?

Hummingbirds do not eat seeds because their metabolism can’t digest them. They are not built to crack and eat seeds. Since they have long and thin beaks, they can’t crack the seeds and eat them because much effort is needed to crack the hard seeds. However, they can dip their beaks and consume the nectar from the plants.

Not only that but, hummingbirds cannot digest seeds easily. Their digestive tracts can pass waste quickly, so if they fed on seeds, their digestive tracts wouldn’t be able to break down the seeds due to their fast metabolism.

-Is There Any Specific Type of Seed That Hummingbirds Can Eat?

-No, hummingbirds don’t eat any seeds, be it bird seed, thistle seed, or any kind of regular seed, for that matter.

Why Do Hummingbirds Come to Seed Feeders?

If you see hummingbirds near your property more often, chances are that you have nectar-bearing flowers grown in your garden, or you’ve got a seed feeder nearby. It may look as if the hummingbirds are feeding on the seeds, but they love to consume nectar and they eat insects, both of which are a part of their diet.

The Diet of Hummingbirds

As hummingbirds do not eat seeds, they rely on nectar, insects, and tree sap, which are easy to digest and provide them with the energy they need.

  1. Nectar

Hummingbirds love artificial and natural nectar because it’s a significant component of their diet. Their long, thin beak is perfect for drinking the nectar present inside the flower. The sugar found in the nectar is an excellent energy source for birds.

Hummingbirds fly very fast, so their wings flap at an incredibly high rate. They can flap their wings up to 70 times per second. This much activity requires these birds to consume a lot of energy.

Hummingbirds also need water but don’t search for it specifically as the nectar, which is in liquid form, is sufficient for them. The nectar serves as liquid food for the hummingbirds, but it doesn’t contain essential nutrients that aid in their growth and development. Since a large portion of the diet consists of nectar, they flit from one flower to another in search of nectar.

Artificial nectar can also be made by adding table sugar into the water or you could purchase concentrated artificial nectar from the market. You can put out a bowl of nectar, but a hummingbird bird feeder would be best.

  1. Insects

Insects offer nutrients and proteins required for the growth and development of hummingbirds. Although the hummingbirds are commonly found near plants that bear nectar, you’ll see them foraging for insects, including flies, ants, spiders, mites, etc. Their diet consists of anywhere between one hundred and a thousand insects a day, depending on the size and availability of these tiny critters.

  1. Tree Sap

Hummingbirds can also be found near trees where other birds have drilled holes. They are interested in consuming the sap, an alternative to nectar. The tree sap has amino acids and sucrose, which are part of the hummingbird’s diet.

Moreover, when the tree sap dries, it attracts insects, which in turn attracts hummingbirds as they consider insects to be an essential part of their diet.

  1. Sand and Ashes

Sand, soil, and ashes are rich in minerals and salts that hummingbird females need for digestion and eggs. One of the essential nutrients found in sand and ashes is calcium. A small dish of ash and sand near your hummingbird bird feeder can help keep the moms and hatchlings healthy and develop strong bones. It might sound strange, but there have been observations showing hummingbirds eating sand and ash from time to time.

A number of university studies have also been conducted that have seemingly confirmed that hummingbirds like to consume sand and ash from time to time. The important thing to note here is that you can’t just keep a bowl of ash or sand and expect to feed the birds! Always keep some form of food there.

  1. Fruits

As hummingbirds prefer nectar because of its sweetness, they can also consume fruit juices from apples, cherries, berries, etc.

  1. Pollen

Several reports have shown that hummingbirds have pollen in their stomachs and intestines, although they do not consume the pollen directly. Instead, they consume it via nectar, during which a great deal of pollen sticks to their tongues and bills.

Types of Hummingbirds and Their Feed

You’ll be amazed by the number of species of hummingbirds that exist. There are more than 300 types of hummingbirds, all of which have slightly different diets.

Tooth-Billed Hummingbirds

Tooth-billed hummingbirds feed on insects and nectar. They are found in Ecuador, Peru, and the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The bill of this bird is very long and straight, which makes it unique among hummingbirds.

Although they have a long and straight tooth-shaped bill, they can’t eat seeds. Their bill gives them the advantage to attack their enemies and protect their territory.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds mainly eat insects and nectar from flowers, both of which are found mostly in tropical and temperate regions. This is the only hummingbird species that breeds in North America. They only consume the nectar from the flowers, while the seeds are only used to build their homes for a living.

Tawny-Bellied Hermit

This type of hummingbird species lives in tropical areas with wet and humid weather conditions. The female hermit has a pale color while the male has orange sides. They consume arthropods and nectar to survive.

Tawny-bellied hermits are most commonly found in Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador. They don’t eat seeds, although they are seen mostly hovering around the flowers. Instead, they use the seeds to shore up their nests.

Koepcke’s Hermit Hummingbird

As with most hummingbirds, the Koepcke’s hermit eats mostly nectar, but it also eats many arthropods. This type of hummingbird species is found in Peru.

Bee Hummingbirds

The Bee hummingbird is one of the smallest kinds of hummingbird and lives in forests and valleys. Their diet consists of nectar and insects, similar to other hummingbirds.

Anna’s Hummingbird

Another type of hummingbird is found in Arizona and California. It has a short, straight bill that makes it different from the rest of the species. They feed on insects and nectar.

Hummingbirds vary significantly when it comes to size, shape, and species. They are different from birds who eat seeds as a part of their diet.

However, hummingbirds can’t eat seeds due to their quick metabolism, and their bill isn’t designed to crack the seeds easily. Instead, they consume nectar, insects, and other nutrients for their growth and development.

Know that every type of hummingbird has specific dietary plans due to its size and other unique abilities. They need different kinds of food to survive. Therefore, you should provide them with the proper nutrients and proteins they need.