Common Starling feeding chicks on a nest box.

19 Birds That Eat Cicadas (with Photos, ID & Information)

Cicadas are one of the few insects that can be found in abundance during the summer months, and their loud buzzing noise usually gives them away. These noisy creatures come out to mate once every 13 or 17 years, depending on which species they belong to. Once mating season has ended, they die quickly due to their short life span. 

Birds love cicadas because these bugs contain large amounts of protein and amino acids that make them a great source of food. In fact, many bird species migrate to places where there is an abundance of cicadas to take advantage of this rich diet during breeding season. In this article we will explore 19 birds that eat cicadas.

Birds That Eat Cicadas


Black-capped Chickadee on a fence
Image by lldd11 from Pixabay

Chickadees love to eat cicadas, and they will happily chase them up trees. Every summer during the hot months of July and August, these little birds fly around picking up unsuspecting cicadas from treetops and branches. It is not unusual for a chickadee to eat more than thirty cicadas in a day.

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American Goldfinch

American goldfinch on fence
Image by Miles Moody from Pixabay

The American Goldfinch is a beautiful bird that you might see in your backyard. They are the only North American bird species to feed primarily on seeds, including sunflower and safflower seeds. However, they will also eat insects like grasshoppers and cicadas.

Related Post: American Goldfinch Interesting Facts


Eastern Bluebird on metal post.
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Bluebirds are known for their beautiful songs. But did you know that they also love to eat cicadas? Bluebirds eat cicadas to fuel up for winter. These insects are a favorite food source of the bluebird because they’re rich in fat and protein, which is exactly what the bird needs as it prepares for its annual migration south.​​​​​​​

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Northern Cardinal

male northern cardinal on a large branch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

In the summer, as cicadas fly about cardinals may seem to eat one now and then. In reality, this is a vital food source for them during these months. Cicadas are fat and protein-rich insects that can make up 20% of a cardinal’s diet in summer. Cardinals will swoop down from high above to catch one in midair or land on branches near where they congregate and wait patiently​​​​​​​.

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female red-bellied woodpecker on tree.
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Woodpeckers are always searching for food. They feast on insects, sap, and tree bark during the spring and summer months. However, in the fall, they switch to eating cicadas that emerge from their pupae or nymphal stage around this time of year. Cicadas are great sources of protein because they have an exoskeleton which provides more nutrients than other bugs. ​​​​​​​

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carolina wren on a log

The Common Wren, small songbird native to North America that loves to eat cicadas. These insects are prevalent in the summer, so it’s no surprise that this bird would want to take advantage of them as food sources. When there are plenty of cicadas around, the wrens will often build their nests near them because they can find enough food nearby. The cicada makes up an important part of their diet. A wren will eat between 20 and 40 per day! 

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American Crow

american crow on a log
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Crows do feed on cicadas. This is a fact that many people are unaware of, but it is true nonetheless. Crows will usually only eat the soft parts of a cicada and discard the hard shell and wings. The crow then pecks at the head and sucks out all the fluids inside. The crow’s ability to hunt and eat these insects make them important members of ecosystems where they can help control populations. ​​​​​​​

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Blue Jay

blue jay on a tree.
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Blue Jays are one of the many birds that will feed on cicadas. The cicada needs to be alive and fresh in order for it to be a good meal for the bird. A cicada might be a tasty snack for a blue jay, but they are not likely to hunt them down because there are plenty of other things that they can find easier. The little bugs just happen to fly into the trees where these birds live and then provide an easy meal with no effort needed on their part.

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Common Grackle

common grackle on a tree branch.
Image by simardfrancois from Pixabay

​​​​​​​Every year in the fall, grackles descend on areas with large numbers of cicadas. These birds gorge themselves on the insects for weeks before returning to their nests. Grackles have been known to swoop down from trees with mouths open wide for a meal. The reason behind this is that insect bodies are rich in fats and proteins that can help them survive harsh winters without food sources.​​​​​​​


indigo bunting on a wooden fence post.
Image by Israel Alapag from Pixabay

Buntings are a common bird found in the United States. The Varied Bunting, Blue Bunting, and the Painted Bunting will eat insects, but one of their favorite delicacies is cicadas. Buntings will find these bugs on trees and then use their beaks to tear them apart. These birds will eat anything they can find, but when there are no other food sources available, they may even try eating worms or spiders if necessary​​​​​​​.

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Cicadas are a favorite meal for shrikes. The common shrike, the Northern shrike, and the loggerhead shrike all have an appetite for cicadas. Shrikes use their hooked beaks  which allows them to capture their prey by jabbing it into crevices and tree bark.​​​​​​​ They wait patiently until they can get it free from its tight grip before consuming it whole. Shrikes can eat up to 50 or more cicadas per day! ​​​​​​​

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House Sparrow

house sparrow perched on an eavestrough
Image by Rajesh Balouria from Pixabay

House Sparrows eat cicadas. The House Sparrow is a type of bird that does not typically eat insects, but it has been found to be an opportunistic feeder and will consume cicadas in the summer when they are plentiful. House sparrows also eat other things like seeds, nuts, berries, grains and some types of vegetation.​​​​​​​   

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Common Starling

a common starling spotted on a deck.
Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash

Starlings are birds that will eat a variety of foods. This includes both plant and animal matter, such as seeds, fruit, or insects. They also feed on other animals like small mammals and amphibians. But in late summer when cicadas emerge from the ground to breed and lay eggs in trees before dying off for winter, starlings will make their nests in trees containing these pests and feed on them during their lifetime (about two weeks).​​​​​​​

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Pine Warbler perched on a tree branch.
Image by Mickey Estes from Pixabay

The warblers will feed on the cicadas in massive numbers, which is a key part of their annual life cycle. In the summer months, it’s common to see warblers in your backyard feeding on small insects such as aphids and spiders. The truth is that they’re also feasting on bugs—in this case, hundreds of cicadas! Warbler populations typically peak when there are large numbers of these creatures available for them.​​​​​​​

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Brown-headed Cowbird​​​​​​

In the summer, brown-headed cowbirds live on cicadas. When it is hot outside, cicadas are an easy meal for the birds. In fact, they eat so many that their population grows significantly each year when a new brood of cicadas comes out of the ground in May and June.​​​​​​​ Cicadas are also one of the main food sources for Brown-headed Cowbirds during their annual breeding season, which lasts from June to September.​​​​​​​

Tufted Titmouse

tufted titmouse perched on a old tree stump
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

In the eastern United States, a Tufted Titmouse will consume up to 50 cicadas in one day. This is due to their opportunistic feeding behavior and their adaptation to seasonal food availability. The Tufted Titmouse can be found throughout the Eastern US from Canada down to Texas, as well as into northern Mexico.​​​​​​​

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Gray Catbird

gray catbird perched on a old tree stump
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

The Gray Catbird is a medium-sized North American songbird. They are often found in deciduous forests, but can also be seen in towns and gardens. The gray catbirds feed on insects such as cicadas, which they hunt for at dawn or dusk from a low perch. Gray Catbirds will find a perch near the ground and sit still until prey is spotted, then it flies to the insect’s location with its tail drooped downward to catch it midair.​​​​​​​

Brown Thrasher

brown thrasher foraging on the ground.
Image by Miles Moody from Pixabay

The Brown Thrasher is a small songbird that lives in the Eastern United States. It will feed on cicadas this summer, as they emerge from their nymph stage and turn into adults. ​​​​​​​They have a diet that consists of mainly insects, including the periodical cicada, which they prefer to other insects. Cicadas are very nutritious and have an unusually high-protein content for a bug, so it is no wonder that Brown Thrashers love them. ​​​​​​​

American Robin

american robin perched on a tree branch
Image by Jack Bulmer from Pixabay

Robins are large, plump songbirds that feed on insects and fruit. The robin is an iconic symbol of the United States. In late summer, when cicadas emerge from underground to molt, they fly around for a few days before they mate and die. Robins eat these cicadas because it is one of their main sources of food in the late summer months.​​​​​​​

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