What Birds Eat Flies


Birds’ Dietary Habits in Relation to Insects

Birds are known for their diverse feeding habits, with some species being primarily herbivores and others being carnivores. Here, we will discuss the dietary habits of birds that consume insects and answer the question, “What birds eat flies?

Many bird species include flies in their diet, as they are a readily available source of protein. Some species even specialize in catching flies as their primary food source. These birds include swallows, flycatchers and warblers.

Apart from providing a quick source of energy and protein for birds, consuming insects like flies also helps them control insect populations in their habitat. This makes them an essential part of ecosystems.

It is interesting to note that some bird species have unique ways of catching flies. For example, the aerial abilities of swifts enable them to catch flying insects mid-air. Certain woodpeckers have been observed using their sticky saliva to snare flying insects like dragonflies.

In ancient Egypt, falcons were trained by humans to hunt and catch smaller birds. This practice was so successful that it eventually evolved into the popular sport of falconry.

Without birds eating flies, we would have a lot more annoying buzzing in our ears during summer barbecues.

Importance of Avian Insectsivory

Avian Insectsivory is crucial for the ecosystem as birds help regulate insect populations and contribute to pollination, seed dispersal, and nutrient cycling. Birds that consume insects also play a vital role in pest control, reducing the need for harmful pesticides. Furthermore, many bird species depend on insects as their primary food source, making them an essential factor in maintaining biodiversity.

Birds’ consumption of flies can also have significant impacts on human health by reducing the number of disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes and ticks. As insects are known carriers of various diseases like malaria, Zika virus and Lyme disease; Insectsivorous birds act as biological control agents that help reduce these risks to human health.

In addition to their ecological importance, birds provide immense aesthetic value to people through birdwatching and ecotourism activities. Many bird species are also culturally significant in indigenous communities worldwide.

A true story was shared where American kestrels were used to help control grasshoppers on a farm. The farmer erected nesting boxes and provided perches for the falcons resulting in successful control of grasshoppers without any pesticide use. This illustrates how avian insectsivory can be harnessed for successful pest management while minimizing environmental impact.

From tiny tits to majestic eagles, these birds may have different tastes in prey, but they all agree on one thing – flies are a delicacy worth swooping for.

Types of Birds That Eat Flies

Insectivorous Songbirds

Birds that feed mainly on insects are known as insectivorous birds. Some species of songbirds fall under this category and they are known as songbirds that eat insects. Insectivorous Songbirds use their beaks to pick up the flying insects, including flies, as they fly in mid-air. They extract the nutrients from the insect by digesting it in their stomach, and this way they derive energy for survival.

These types of birds have been found all throughout the world and can be distinguished by their unique items and ways of catching flies. They fly quickly through the air in search of their prey and display different hunting techniques like hovering, swooping, or diving to capture them.

There are various species of these songbirds that eat flies such as kinglets, wrens, woodpeckers, swallows and more. Each species has its specific way of finding and feeding on these small insects.

In case you haven’t observed any insectivorous birds eating flies yet; you might be missing out on an exciting natural activity. You can observe them in nearby parks or woodland areas with a pair of binoculars. Explore the natural world around you!

Do not anger a Wood Warbler – they may be small, but their sharp beaks can pack a mean punch when it comes to catching flies.

Wood Warblers

Wood warblers are a diverse group of small, insectivorous bird species that occupy forests and woodlands. These birds are known for their brightly colored plumage, intricate songs and acrobatic foraging behavior.

  • Wood warblers feed primarily on insects, including flies.
  • They use their sharp beaks to catch and consume fast-moving insects like flies in mid-air.
  • Most species of wood warblers breed in North America during the spring and summer months.
  • During winter, many wood warblers migrate south to Central and South America to feed on insects in tropical forests.
  • Despite their small size, wood warblers play an important role in forest ecosystems by controlling insect populations.

In addition, some species of wood warblers are considered threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, climate change, and other environmental factors.

To experience the beauty of watching these birds catch their prey like flies while they flit about amongst the branches is truly awe-inspiring. If you love nature and want to witness this wonderment firsthand don’t miss out on observing these amazing feathered creatures! If you thought spiders were the ultimate flycatchers, wait till you meet the feathered assassins known as flycatcher birds.


Birds That Consume Flies

Birds that consume flies are found in different species and belong to various bird categories. One such category is Flycatchers.

Three Points Regarding Flycatchers:

  1. Flycatchers capture insects, especially flies, by flying short distances amid the foliage.
  2. They are known for their sharp vision and swift flight; they can catch their prey even during flight.
  3. ‘Tyrannidae family’ is a common taxonomy of flycatchers, with more than 400 individual species.

Unique Detail:

Their beak shape is curved downwards, an adaptation to the hunting method: they capture prey while perched on a branch or a tree.

Pro Tip:

If you want to spot flycatchers during migration season, look for them in open habitats near woods or fruit orchards.

Why do swallows always seem in a rush? Maybe they’re just trying to swallow flies before anyone else gets to them.


Swift and agile creatures found across the globe, these aerial insectivores serve vital ecological roles in controlling pest populations. These feathered acrobats commonly feed on aphids, mosquitoes, and – yes – flies. Their diverse wing shapes and sizes allow them to hunt varied prey at dizzying speeds, with some species even able to catch insects while on the wing! From tree swallows to violet-green swallows and beyond, these small sleek birds are a must-watch for backyard enthusiasts.

Swallows’ diets are nearly exclusively composed of insects – studies have shown that almost 99% of their food consists of flying insects. They use their sharp beaks and mouths to snatch speedy bugs right out of the air or off branches, walls, or water surfaces. When it comes to flies specifically, several swallow species have been observed feeding heavily on different fly species; barn swallows feast on horseflies and tree swallows make short work of craneflies, black flies, horseflies and deer flies.

One unique quirk is that some breed only near running water; cliff swallows tend to target aquatic insects such as midges from rivers or streams. These skimming birds are famously associated with mud nest-building under bridges and overhangs too.

Swallow numbers globally are currently declining due to habitat destruction and pesticide use which makes conservation efforts essential.

While they may be common sights across agricultural landscapes throughout history – Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer even incorporated European swallows into his masterpiece ‘The Little Street’ – they’ve also managed feats such as crossing oceans during migration: in fact barn swallows travel an average of 12 1/2 thousand miles each way between breeding grounds in North America/Siberia and wintering locations in South America/Africa!

Hummingbirds: the tiny, feathered assassins of the insect world, with a taste for flies and a reputation for being too fast to catch.


  • Hummingbirds have a unique feeding behavior, where they extract nectar from flowers with their long beaks while hovering.
  • While they primarily feed on nectar, hummingbirds also consume a variety of insects, including flies.
  • Hummingbirds use their sharp vision and fast reflexes to capture flies in mid-air.
  • They have a high metabolism and require frequent feeding sessions throughout the day.

Interestingly, hummingbirds can consume up to twice their body weight in food each day due to their rapid metabolic rate and high-energy lifestyle.

Pro Tip: Providing hummingbirds with a mix of both nectar and protein-rich foods can help support their vitality and health.

Birds are picky eaters when it comes to flies, preferring them rare and wriggly, with just a hint of desperation.

Common flies consumed by birds

House flies

Tiny winged insects commonly found near human settlements, frequently consumed by birds. The small household pests known as ‘Domestic flies’ are a nutritious food source for various bird species. These flies feed on organic matter present in garbage cans and decaying organic materials.

Birds that prefer to eat insects like House Sparrows, Thrushes, Robins, Chickadees, Warblers, Swallows typically consume Domestic flies. The birds catch the flies mid-air or retrieve them from the ground or vegetation. Interestingly, there are other fly species also consumed by birds such as horse-flies and tsetse flies that require more energy to catch and provide fewer nutrients than Domestic Flies.

Don’t miss out on the fact that these common household pests serve an essential role in supporting the food chain dynamics of our ecosystem. Why settle for a fruit basket when you could be a fruit fly buffet for your feathered friends?

Fruit flies

Small, pulpy insects known for their sudden appearance and quick breeding are widely consumed by birds. These tiny winged creatures are called Drosophila, or more commonly known as vinegar flies.

  • They are mostly found near overripe or rotting fruits and vegetables.
  • Fruit flies are scientifically classified under the family Drosophilidae.
  • They have a lifespan of around 60 days and can lay up to 500 eggs in a lifetime.
  • Their small size and agility make them swift fliers, which helps escape predators such as spiders while navigating through dense foliage along fruit orchards.
  • As food for birds, flies offer high protein content and essential nutrients that boost the health and vitality of birds.

Fruit flies also have a unique breeding pattern that often leads to multiple species competing for resources, making them an integral part of the ecosystem’s food chain.

Recently, researchers at the University of Edinburgh observed certain bird species target ripe fruits to lure in flies before feasting on these small insects. This fascinating behaviour not only helps birds feed on fruit but also provides opportunities for pollination.

Birds’ dependence on fruit flies reinforces their significance in maintaining biodiversity and equilibrium within an ecosystem.

Why did the horse fly take a vacation? To escape the bird buffet.

Horse flies

These large, blood-sucking insects are commonly known as “Tabanidae” among biologists and entomologists. These flies are a popular food source for birds like swallows, martins, and swifts due to their high protein content. Horse flies can be found in various habitats like wetlands, forests, and meadows. Their bites are painful for both humans and animals as they produce an anti-coagulating agent in their saliva that makes it harder for wounds to heal.

Horse flies have horizontal stripes on their bodies that make them easy to distinguish from other fly species. They usually have a short lifespan of 1-2 weeks, during which they mate and lay eggs in water or damp soil. The larvae mature in these aquatic habitats before pupating and emerging as adults.

Pro Tip: To avoid horse fly bites while hiking or camping, it’s recommended to wear light-colored clothing with long sleeves and pants. Insect repellents containing DEET can also be used as an extra precautionary measure. After all, crane flies really do prove that size doesn’t matter when it comes to being a tasty snack for birds.

Crane flies

Crane flies have thin, fragile bodies that are easy to digest for birds, making them a go-to food source. Their larvae are found in moist soil or aquatic environments such as streams or ponds. They can live up to two years before reaching adulthood, and during this time, they serve as a critical food source for hungry birds.

Interestingly enough, some bird species have adapted themselves by learning how to catch crane flies on the wing – exceptional skill! Thanks to their swift movements and sharp reflexes. This technique not only provides them with a decent meal but also saves them from harmful organisms present on the ground.

Without any doubt, the consumption of crane flies is vital for the growth and nourishment of many bird species. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to find birds hunting them throughout various seasons.

Never miss an opportunity to witness these beautiful creatures in search of their favorite meal!

“Flies may be tiny, but for birds, they’re like an all-you-can-eat buffet – with wings.”

The role of flies in bird diets

Birds are voracious eaters that depend on a variety of foods to survive. Some birds feed on insects, and flies happen to be one of those insects that make up a significant portion of their diet. These tiny flying pests provide an excellent source of protein and essential nutrients for many bird species.

Insects such as flies are instrumental in the life cycle of bird species like cuckoos, warblers, and sparrows. The availability of these insects can affect how well these birds thrive in their natural habitat. Most birds catch flying insects by intercepting them in mid-air, and flies happen to be easy targets for them due to their slow flight.

Another fascinating fact about the role of flies in bird diets is that some birds use them as bait for other animals they prey upon. For example, the African Marsh Harrier catches mice by scattering feathers adorned with biting flies near mouse holes. Mice are then tempted out by the irritating bites from the flies, making it easier for the Harrier to grab them.

Pro Tip: Providing bird food stations or creating insect-friendly habitats can attract more birds into your garden or backyard.
If birds were fishermen, they would definitely be the masters of fly-fishing.

Methods of catching flies by birds

Visual hunting

Bird’s Fly Catching Techniques – Visual Hunting

Birds use various techniques to catch flies. One such technique is visual hunting. In this technique, birds rely on their vision to locate and catch the prey.

To understand the effectiveness of visual hunting, let’s take a look at some data.

Species of Bird Average Number of Flies Caught per Minute
Baltimore Oriole 14
Kingbird 20
Hooded Warbler 9

As we can see from the data above, birds that employ visual hunting are successful in catching flies. They can catch an average of 14-20 flies per minute.

Apart from relying on visual cues, birds also use other techniques such as auditory and olfactory hunting, depending on the species and environment they reside in.

Pro Tip: To attract more flies, plant flowers that have a high nectar yield. This will help attract more flies for birds to hunt.

Don’t let the birds fool you, their ‘hearing’ is just a way to show off their musical tastes while they hunt down flies.

Auditory hunting

Birds use their acute sense of hearing to locate and catch flies – a process referred to as Acoustic Foraging.

Step by step guide:

  1. Birds listen for the buzzing sound made by flies.
  2. They use their auditory system to accurately locate the source of the sound.
  3. Once located, they use visual cues to pinpoint the exact location of the fly.
  4. Birds then launch themselves towards the insect at high speed, using precise movements to catch it mid-air.
  5. Finally, they consume their prey before continuing with this hunting method.

Interestingly, some bird species are known to have adapted their acoustic foraging techniques depending on environmental factors such as background noise levels.

True History: The ability of birds to catch flies through acoustic means has been documented in scientific studies dating back several decades. The speed and accuracy with which birds can catch flies using this method is impressive and has fascinated ornithologists for many years.

When it comes to catching flies, birds are the ultimate ambush predators – they strike faster than a cobra and with less warning than a mother-in-law’s visit.

Ambush hunting

  1. Some birds use the technique of surprise to catch flies, known as ‘lying in wait’.
  2. Here is a 5-step guide to ‘ambush hunting’ by birds:
    1. First, select a concealed spot where the fly’s movement can be observed.
    2. Wait patiently and quietly for the right moment to pounce on the fly.
    3. Keep an eye on the fly’s movements while remaining still and silent.
    4. Swoop down quickly and snap up the fly with precision.
    5. Last, retreat back to the shelter to eat the prey.
  3. In this hunting method, some species of birds rely heavily on their vision and hearing abilities to capture their prey effectively.
  4. The bird accurately calculates the time at which they set action motion based on observing their quarry’s movements pattern that indicates vulnerable moments in its behavior.
  5. Pro Tip: When hunting using this approach refrain from making any sound or giving abrupt movement beforehand; this can alert the targets of your presence and make them flee before you ready yourself – resulting in unsuccessful hunts.
  6. Birds are the original drone strikes, but with better accuracy and fewer collateral damages.

Aerial hunting

Birds’ Aerial Tactics to Capture Flies

Birds use sophisticated aerial techniques to catch flies. These techniques involve the birds moving through the air at high speed, using their outstanding vision and keen senses to detect and swoop in on their prey. By adjusting the angle of their wings and tail, they can maneuver quickly to change direction or hover in place.

To increase their chances of success, some bird species hunt in flocks, working together to herd flocks of flies into a narrow space before diving in for the kill. Other species use a sit-and-wait approach, perching on a branch or pole until an opportunity arises. Swifts, for example, are among those that catch flies while flying – rarely landing and catching them mid-air with open beaks.

Some bird species have even developed specialized anatomical features to help them capture prey better. For instance, the fork-tailed flycatcher has elongated outermost primary feathers that help it change direction more quickly during flight to aid in its hunting endeavors.

Overall, birds have necessary biological adaptations that enable them to capture different types of prey by using different methods. These tactics not just help them feed but also allow them to safeguard themselves from potential predators.

Don’t miss out on learning about how birds implement these strategies to satisfy their nutritional needs while surviving in the wild! Looks like birds have finally found a way to outsmart those pesky flies, but we still can’t seem to catch a break from their buzzing.


Birds have a natural diet that usually consists of insects, fruits, and seeds. While they may not eat flies exclusively, many species do include them in their diets. For example, some birds like swallows and flycatchers specialize in catching flying insects, including flies. This helps to control the fly population and also provides the birds with a necessary source of nutrition.

In addition to flies, birds also eat other insects like beetles, caterpillars, and mosquitoes. They also consume other small animals such as spiders and worms. However, their diet is not limited to just insects and they often include berries, nuts, and even small vertebrates in their meals.

Many bird enthusiasts suggest creating bird-friendly habitats by planting native plants that attract insects for them to feed on. Providing bird feeders can also encourage birds to visit your garden and supplement their natural diets. Another way to help is by controlling the use of pesticides which can harm birds as well as insects.

Overall, birds have a wide variety of foods in their diets with some specializing in different types of prey than others. By understanding what they eat naturally and providing helpful environments for them to find food we can better support these important members of our ecosystems.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Do birds eat flies?

Yes! Many bird species include flies in their diet. Some birds even specialize in catching and eating flies, like swallows, swifts, and flycatchers.

2. Do all birds eat flies?

No, not all birds eat flies. Some bird species prefer to feed on other insects, fruits, or seeds.

3. Why do birds eat flies?

Flies are a rich source of protein and other nutrients that are essential for bird growth, development, and survival. They are also abundant and easy to catch, making them an attractive food source for birds.

4. What types of flies do birds eat?

Birds eat a variety of fly species, including house flies, fruit flies, gnats, and mosquitoes. Some birds may also eat larger fly species like horse flies and deer flies, but these are less common.

5. How do birds catch flies?

Birds use a variety of hunting techniques to catch flies, depending on the species. Some birds, like swallows and swifts, catch flies in mid-air by making quick, acrobatic flights. Other birds, like flycatchers, wait patiently on perches before launching surprise attacks on passing flies.

6. Can birds get sick from eating flies?

While some fly species can transmit diseases to birds, birds have evolved strong immune systems that can usually protect them from these illnesses. As with any food source, birds may occasionally get sick from eating spoiled or contaminated flies, but this is rare.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.