Last Updated on November 15, 2021 by Guillermina
Do you know if hummingbirds eat seeds? These tiny shimmering birds are known for their fascinating multiple feeding habits. Apart from the common nectar solution we know hummingbirds consume, these lustrous birds also consume other sources of food.
Hummingbirds can’t just rely on nectar solutions alone to provide them with their daily requirement and for their development. These birds also need other nutrients such as essential proteins for building muscle as well as feathers development.
So, the question is what other food type does a hummingbird eat? Do you know if hummingbirds eat seeds or any other food source? Let’s find out.
What Do Hummingbirds Eat?
The most common food source we know hummingbirds eat is nectar solution. They drive this sweet and juicy nectar from flowers and hummingbird feeders. They sip nectar solutions multiple times within a split of seconds.
Hummingbird requires a huge amount of energy because they are always indulged in vigorous and energy-consuming activities. Therefore, the large amounts of nectar solution they consume are necessary for their high metabolism, rapid flight, and other energetic activities.
Now, nectar is filled with abundant liquid or water. Therefore, this provides hummingbirds the required water and they may not need to look for other water sources.
However, consuming nectar alone isn’t enough. They also have the need to obtain other nutrients such as protein, amino acids, and vitamins and minerals. Therefore, these birds also consume other food that will supply these essential nutrients.
Hummingbirds eat other food types such as small invertebrate insects. These small insects ingested by these birds provide our lovely hummers with the required proteins needed for their muscle building a well as feather development.
Apart from nectar solution and insects, hummingbirds have also been sighted feeding on saps. This usually happens when nectar is scarce. These birds can sip from tree sap from already drilled wells by woodpeckers.
However, tree saps may not be as sweet as nectar solutions from nectars or feeders, tree saps can still supply enough sources of energy required by these vigorous birds.
Do Hummingbirds Eat Bird Seeds?
So, answering the question do hummingbirds eat seed is actually no. Hummingbirds do not eat seeds in any way.
Even if you’ve witnessed hummingbirds at seed feeders, it may just be some insects are hatching amongst the seeds. Or it may be that insects are flying around the seed feeders and hummingbirds came to feed on the insects.
The majority of their diet comes from nectar so they drink nectar from flower or hummingbird feeders. Hummingbirds can visit up to a thousand flowers each day just to search for nectar solutions. Their diet also includes small invertebrate insects or bugs.
Hummingbirds may however eat pollen grains but not directly. However, pollen grains aren’t seeds. This is because they are more fine and powdery. A few amounts of pollen grains can end up getting stuck in this bird’s tongues and bills during the process of them sipping nectar from flowers.
Some amount of these pollen grains are ingested by these birds and can even serve as a source of protein to them. But not all the pollen grains end up getting digested. Only about 10 percent is digested. Therefore, this only implies pollen grains aren’t one of their regular food sources.
Why Seed Can’t Be Part Of Hummingbird’s Diet
Hummingbirds do not eat seeds mainly because their bills aren’t made to crack or tear seeds. Their bills are mainly meant for inserting into flowers and sipping nectar solutions. For them to be able to crack or eat seed, they will need a strong bill to crack these seeds with a lot of effort.
Another reason they can’t include seeds in their diet is because they have a very fast metabolism. This rapid metabolism won’t allow the seeds to digest fast and properly. The digestive system of hummingbirds tends to pass waste fast. So if hummingbirds were to consume a bunch of seeds, it definitely won’t go well with their digestive system.
Additionally, the gall bladder that is meant to digest and aid the quick metabolism of seeds isn’t present in hummingbirds.
Read more about What Insects Do Hummingbirds Eat?
Do Hummingbirds Eat Suet?
You may have probably seen hummingbirds around your suet and you begin to wonder if hummingbirds do eat suet. Well, finding hummingbirds around your suet may just be these birds looking around for sweet nectar or they may simply be looking for insects lurking around the suet.
Therefore, it is rare for hummingbirds to feed on suet but unusual things can still occur when it comes to our wildlife.
What About Tooth-Billed Hummingbirds? Can They Eat Seeds?
A tooth-billed hummingbird is a type of hummingbird species that is characterized by its long straight bill. The bill of this hummingbird species has small tooth-like serrations in the inner region of their distal half bill. But do Tooth-billed hummingbirds eat seed?
Even with the small tooth-like serrations characteristics, this hummingbird species still can’t eat seeds.
However, the male tooth-billed hummingbirds have the ability to stab any other male competitor with their pointed tooth bill. They can even knock other birds out of their territory. Also, you may witness some hummingbird species with hooked bills tearing out the feathers of other hummingbirds.
How Is Hummingbird Able To Eat Insect?
Hummingbirds don’t have any problem eating insects. They particularly feed on small invertebrate insects and bugs. These small invertebrate insects are much softer. Hence, it’s pretty easier for them to feed on insects than seeds. The ease to which hummingbirds feed on is thanks to their long and thin bills.
Hummingbirds also tend to swallow insects. They only have little taste bud and salivary glands. Hummingbirds can also tilt their head backwards just to swallow these insects or bugs.
It is necessary for hummingbirds to consume more than just nectar solutions. It’s a basic requirement for them to obtain additional food that will supply them with a source of protein. Hence, hummingbirds will also feed on small insects and bugs as this is their source of protein.
Hummingbirds however do not eat seeds. This is majorly because their bills aren’t capable of cracking these seeds and their digestive tracts can’t ingest this seed.
Eunice is a passionate lover of hummingbirds and all things nature. She loves to observe and study the tiny birds, learning about their unique behaviors and unique features. She has written a number of articles about hummingbirds and their habitats, which have been featured in a variety of publications. In her spare time, she enjoys visiting hummingbird sanctuaries and going on bird–watching trips in her local area. She also volunteers with local wildlife rescue organizations, helping to rehabilitate injured birds. When she’s not outdoors, Eunice can be found writing articles, creating bird–inspired art, and playing the flute.