Dried mealworms have become a staple food when feeding wild birds with their high protein and natural amino acids they are an invaluable food source to many native birds that struggle to find enough insects in drier and colder times. Soft billed bird species such as robins and blackbirds are unable to crack seeds due to their soft beak and are naturally insectivorous relying on insects as a key part of their diet. Mealworms are also a key source of protein for baby birds in spring who need a constant supply of insects and foods that contain moisture as well as fat and protein to help them grow. Fat treats such as suet pellets with added mealworms or insects disappear from the garden in spring time especially for this reason.
As there is so many different kinds of wild bird foods on the market which can be bought and stored for long periods, why do wild bird feeding experts like Bill Oddie recommend feeding Live Mealworms to your garden visitors rather than the dried variety which is more readily available through numerous big chain retailers?
Live Mealworms are a Natural high quality food for wild birds that provides the protein, fat, amino acids and moisture that birds need to thrive. The moisture is a key component that is necessary for fledgling birds that have not yet left the nest, which cannot be gained through the use of dried Mealworms. The drying process of mealworms also degrades the nutritional content of the mealworms and while still highly nutritious the goodness is not as successfully utilized by the birds. The natural movement of the live Mealworms is more enticing to birds and can help attract birds to your garden that are natural insectivores.
How to feed live Mealworms to the wild birds?
There are many ways to feed live mealworms to wild birds and this can depend on how large your current bird population is. An easy way if there is limited competition in your garden for feed is to place the mealworms in a dish with sides high enough that the mealworms cannot climb out of. There are commercially made options for this but many people will already have suitable options for this in their home. In higher competition gardens slow feeders can be used to stagger the flow of Mealworms available through commercially available options or through home made versions. The natural motion of the mealworm to drive down allows a slower release of mealworms from these feeders allowing smaller birds the ability to get the mealworms.
Is there anything else I can do to attract birds to my garden to discover the mealworms?
If you haven’t used live mealworms before in your garden, you may not have regular visitors who need insects to thrive. A clean water source is key to bringing birds to your garden, a small pond or bird bath with regular water changes or a water source with moving water such as a fountain or stream. Planting native plants and allowing your grass to grow long stimulates other insect types and can provide cover for garden visitors. Placing the Mealworms near these sources with adequate cover can really help encourage birds to visit your feeding area and help you provide this great food for your garden birds.
Are live Mealworms more expensive than dried?
Yes and no. When bought side by side from retail stores live are considerably more expensive than dried. However Live are extremely easy and cheap to produce in your own home and can be grown and harvested using kitchen waste.