You’re having what for lunch? The weirdest foods birds eat.

You’re having what for lunch? The weirdest foods birds eat.

Courtesy of MJI Photos - Mary J.I., Flickr

When it comes to the foods birds eat, most of us would be pretty confident in naming the usual suspects: seeds, insects, berries, fruits, the odd flower. However, just like us, there are certain birds whose palate is a little more… evolved. That, or just plain weird; we will leave the distinction up to you. Here are five of the weirdest things our feathered friends derive sustenance from.

1. Minding their own beeswax

There is a reason greater honeyguides are called that! These African birds have a serious appetite for beeswax (and grubs), and can remember where their favorite lunch spots are. This has led hunters in Mozambique to develop a symbiotic relationship with the birds that will guide them to hives in return for some of the spoils. They even have a special call that summons the birds, and a whole system of communication, too!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

2. Count Finchula

There is a subspecies of the sharp-beaked ground finch from the Galapagos island that bears the nickname the vampire finch. Yep, you guessed it, the lunch item du jour on these birds’ menu is blood! Not exclusively, it’s more of a dietary supplement when other food is scarce, and they get it by pecking at parasites on boobies and drawing blood in the process. The boobies don’t really mind, seeing as they are now pest-free!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

3. Salad wings

Hate salad? The hoatzin doesn’t! These Amazonian beauties’ diet is mostly made up of leaves; they are what we would call folivorous! Like cows and sheep use the rumen to pre-digest the grass they eat, the hoatzin does this in its crop. Fun fact: they are the only bird to pre-digest their food.

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

4. The bite that bites back

European honey buzzards love a meal with a little bite… Literally! These birds of prey have an appetite for Asian hornets. Did you know these insects are considered an invasive species in Europe and pose a threat to bee populations? So, in grabbing lunch, these buzzards are effectively also acting as pest control agents.

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič

5. Got milk?

Did you know blue tits have an appetite for the energy-rich cream that settles at the very top of milk bottles? By now, this has practically become the stuff of British folklore, but once milk bottles started being delivered to homes covered by tin foil bottle tops (sometime around the 1950s), the crafty critters learnt how to pierce the foil and gain access to their hearty snack!

Illustration by Jaka Vukotič
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