Can Hummingbirds Eat Ants? – Discovering Hummingbirds’ Unique Diet

The tiny hummingbirds are renowned for their remarkable speed, agility, and coloration. They are frequently seen in gardens and attracted to flowering plants and hummingbird feeders. However, one may wonder: do hummingbirds eat ants?

Although ants are ubiquitous in gardens, it is not widely known if they form part of hummingbirds’ diets.

I will investigate whether hummingbirds consume ants and their primary sources of sustenance. By understanding the nutritional requirements of hummingbirds, we can better appreciate these astonishing creatures and ensure they have access to the nourishment they need to flourish.

Do Hummingbirds Consume Ants?

Hummingbirds are most often drawn to flower nectar and small insects as a source of sustenance, as well as tiny spiders and tree sap for an additional protein source. They have been equipped with long, thin beaks and specialized tongues to obtain nourishment from nectar and insects.

Ants, however, are different from a typical food source for these birds. This is due to their lack of nutritional benefits, and hummingbirds may need help to effectively catch and consume these pests with their beaks and tongues.

Additionally, ants possess formic acid, which can harm hummingbirds and other creatures if ingested in large quantities. For this reason, hummingbirds typically avoid ants, preferring more nutritious food sources such as nectar and small insects.

To draw hummingbirds to your garden, you can focus on planting flowers with nectar or setting up hummingbird feeders with water and sugar.

Why Don’t Hummingbirds Eat Ants?

They are one of the few birds that can fly in any direction and remain still in the air. As fascinating as they are, hummingbirds have unique dietary habits that set them apart from other birds.

One of these habits is that hummingbirds do not feed on ants. This has left many bird watchers and researchers scratching their heads, wondering why ants are not a part of their diet.

Lack of Nutritional Value

Hummingbirds require a substantial amount of sugar to sustain their metabolic rate, which ants cannot provide. To ensure an adequate energy level and facilitate their rapid wing movement, hummingbirds rely on a diet of nectar and insects for essential nutrients; thus, ants are not a suitable food source for these birds.

Difficulty in Capture and Consumption

They possess a specialized beak and tongue that is advantageous for consuming nectar and minuscule insects. However, the size and speed of ants make them challenging to catch and finish with the beak. Moreover, their habit of living in large colonies makes it hard for hummingbirds to capture and eat.

Harmful Effects of Formic Acid

Due to the presence of formic acid, an organic compound that can be poisonous when ingested in large quantities, ants are not a suitable dietary choice for hummingbirds. Formic acid can cause digestive issues and other health complications in these birds, so they typically opt for more nutritious food sources such as nectar and small insects.

What Types of Food Do Hummingbirds Eat?

These birds are among nature’s most beloved and beautiful birds, and their special diet is a significant part of what makes them unique. Various foods make up the hummingbird diet, and understanding what hummingbirds eat can help us better appreciate and care for these fascinating creatures.

Nectar from Flowers

Hummingbirds are specialized birds that feed mainly on nectar from flowers, making them essential pollinators in many environments. Nectar is a sweet liquid produced by flowers to attract hummingbirds and other animals that help pollinate. They have long; curved beaks adapted to help them extract nectar from blooms.

Water, Sugar & Fruits

They often consume water and sugar from feeders. This sugar is usually sourced from a mixture of sugar water and can be purchased from bird supply stores. In addition, many types of fruit, such as bananas and grapes, can also provide a great energy source for these birds.


While hummingbirds feed on various food sources, from flowers to fruit, insects are a significant part of their diet. Insects provide hummingbirds with high-energy protein essential for their growth, reproduction, and migration.

Tree Sap

One of the main foods that hummingbirds eat is tree sap, which is full of essential nutrients they need. Tree sap can be found in many trees, such as maples, oaks, and birches. It is an integral part of the hummingbird’s diet and helps them stay healthy and full of energy.

How to Keep Ants Away from Hummingbird Feeders?

One of the most common pests that can be found near hummingbird feeders is ants. Keeping them away from the feeders is essential to ensure the birds have access to the food they need. Fortunately, a few simple steps can help keep ants away from hummingbird feeders.

The first step is to ensure the feeder is mounted in an area that offers a good view of the approaching birds but is also in an area that is difficult for ants to reach. This may include placing the feeder high on a wall or in a tree away from food sources such as flower beds or other nearby plants.

It is also essential to regularly clean the feeder to avoid any ant-attracting residues. A simple rinse with a one-to-one solution of white vinegar and water can help to remove any sugar-based residue that may attract ants.

Finally, a hummingbird feeder shield can create a barrier between the feeder and the ants. The security should be placed around the feeder and secured with a wire or string to ensure the ants cannot bypass it.

How to Attract Hummingbirds to Your Feeders?

One of the most enjoyable sights of summer is watching hummingbirds visit your backyard. The best way to ensure you have many visitors is to keep feeders filled and adequately maintained.

To attract hummingbirds to your feeders, make sure to clean them regularly. A good rule of thumb is to clean them at least twice a week and refill them with fresh nectar. The nectar should be a four-to-one ratio of water to sugar.

Additionally, the feeders should be placed in areas with lots of sunshine and away from predators like cats or squirrels. Also, hang the feeder at least five feet off the ground.

Discover How To Prevent Ants From Accessing Your Hummingbird Feeder

Are Ants Harmful to Hummingbirds?

Ant control tips can help protect hummingbirds from harm. Although ants alone may not pose a direct threat to hummingbirds, they are attracted to the sweet nectar in feeders, potentially contaminating it. To deter ants, place hummingbird feeders on poles with ant moats or use ant guards that prevent their access to the nectar.


Hummingbirds are not reliant on ants as a dietary source; instead, they mainly feed on the nectar of plants, certain insects, and tiny spiders. They have adapted physical features, such as their long, narrow beaks and brush-tipped tongues, to access these sources of nourishment.

Although hummingbirds may consume ants on rare occasions, this is not a significant part of their diet. Ingesting too many ants can be harmful as they contain formic acid, which can be toxic in sufficient quantities.

To ensure hummingbirds get the nutrition they need, it is best to offer them flowers with lots of nectar and feeders filled with sugar water.



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