We already know that crows have a wide range of food options, such as fruits, berries, and even other live birds.
However, their diet also has a component where they eat insects.
In fact, even other birds also eat insects on a regular basis like ants.
But do crows also eat ants?
Do the tiny ants in a line on the ground do good to these birds?
Let’s find out!
Crows and even other birds in the corvid family are not really ant eaters.
They are capable of consuming ants, but it is not something very common for them to eat.
However, crows do have an activity involving ants (and no, it is not about eating!) called anting or ant bath.
This is a kind of process where crows will lay down on the ground, and purposely get ants on their body and wings.
For what reason?
No one knows exactly, but there are few theories behind it.
We will discuss in the article (more on that later on)
But first let’s talk about birds and if they go anting
Do Birds Go Anting?
Some birds eat ants, but there are also species that do anting.
Some birds known for taking ant baths are crows, robins, sparrows, ravens, mockingbirds, and even owls.
Birds do ant baths by literally letting the ants crawl on them.
They will usually lay down on the ground full of ants and sit there, waiting for the insects to climb on their body and wings.
Anting, sometimes called ant baths, seems to be common among birds, but not really always observed by humans, so it has no further proof about what could be the reason why birds bathe themselves with ants.
So why do crows have ant baths?
It seems bizarre right?
Let’s find out
Why Do Crows Have Ant Baths?
The reasons behind why crows and other birds do ant baths are still something hypothetical.
It is not yet confirmed why these birds want to have ants feast on their wings and feathers.
But as a general idea, it has a purpose of maintaining cleanliness and soothing inflammation.
As what many experts have observed, crows do have ant baths frequently when it is their molting season.
So, they hypothesized that ants help crows soothe their inflammation from molting.
This also seems to be the same reason for other birds as well.
This is because ants secrete certain substances and chemicals that help soothe the birds’ skin during feather replacement.
These chemicals make the skin’s tingly which helps the birds during their molting period.
Here’s a really cool video of a crow anting
Do Garden Birds Eat Ants?
Majority of bird species have insects, like ants, as part of their regular diet.
This, of course, includes garden birds as well.
Usually, the birds that eat ants on a daily basis are starlings, hummingbirds, pigeons, sparrows,and woodpeckers.
Eating ants, at a glance, may seem unhealthy and unnecessary for a bird’s diet.
It is not surprising to think what kind of benefits would birds gain from eating ants, aside from being satisfied.
But to enlighten you about the benefits, ants are a rich source of protein which is an essential nutrient for birds.
Despite being tiny, they also contain other nutrients like zinc, iron, and potassium.
All of these nutrients are responsible and play a vital role in keeping the birds healthy and strong.
What Bird Eats The Most Ants?
A specific bird species that is known for eating ants most of the time is a woodpecker.
This bird is the one known for being a really ant eater – consuming ants as frequently and as many as possible.
In fact, ants take up more than 50% of their diet.
Woodpeckers, in general, are usually seen foraging on the ground, busy hunting for ants.
They will also eat their eggs and larvaes, proving how these birds treat ants as their favorite meal.
Some subspecies of woodpeckers such as the Pileated Woodpecker will find ants in trees and swallow them whole.
Insects make up a huge part of a birds’ diet in the majority of the species.
Some known birds that eat ants are starlings, hummingbirds, pigeons, sparrows, and woodpeckers.
Crows, on the other hand, are not really considered to be ant eaters.
However, these corvid birds generally love having ant baths.
Ant baths or anting happens when birds purposely take ants on their wings and body.
There are no confirmed statements behind this activity.
As a general idea, it is said that crows and other birds do anting to help their recovery in their rapid feather placement during molting season.