Most garden birds are omnivores with a diet that include everything from seeds and fruits, to insects and smaller animals.
Therefore, larger backyard birds will eat tadpoles as a part of their diet if accessible to them. In fact, many garden birds will actively seek out tadpoles to eat if you have a source of freshwater where frogs can lay their eggs in your garden.
A bird will eat a tadpole as far as it is available and its beak is big enough. The size of the bird’s beak will determine what type of tadpole it can eat.
Most birds with bigger beaks like crows, magpies, and ravens can eat almost any type of tadpole, whereas sparrows would rarely eat tadpoles as they are too large and fast for them to catch.
The majority of birds that eat tadpoles are mainly insectivores. This means that their diet consists mostly of insects.
However, they will also eat other small animals, such as frogs, toads, and lizards. Many of these animals are found near bodies of freshwater or garden ponds, where tadpoles also live.
Tadpoles are not insects but amphibian frog larvae, but their size and large numbers in the spring make them attractive prey for most birds that are able to catch them!
Having tadpoles around in the spring is convenient for most garden birds as some people have already taken down their bird feeder and the birds will need to look for other food sources.
Therefore the birds need other sources of nutrients, and tadpoles can provide an important source of proteins for adult birds and nestlings in the mating season.
Birds that eat tadpoles will often look for them near the water’s edge. They will also eat tadpoles that are in the process of metamorphosis and have just turned into small frogs or toads that enter land for the first time.
While some people might view this as cruel, it is a natural part of the food chain. Birds eating tadpoles is perfectly fine and help to keep the population of both species in check.
Do Crows Eat Tadpoles?
Crows are omnivores and will eat a variety of things, including tadpoles. They typically prefer to eat insects, but they will also eat small fish, amphibians, and even reptiles.
Crows are known to be particularly good at finding food, so if there are any tadpoles in your garden, they will likely find them and eat them!
Crows are a type of bird that lives in almost every part of the world. In North America, the most common type of crow is the American crow.
Crows are usually all black, but some species have lighter grey feathers on their chest and belly. They are social birds and often live in large flocks and are also known to be very intelligent.
However, they can be quite intimidating, which is why crows often scare away other birds from your garden!
Do Magpies Eat Tadpoles?
Magpies are a type of bird that is part of the crow family. Like crows, they are omnivores and will eat a variety of things.
Their diet includes insects, eggs, small animals, seeds, and tadpoles.
Magpies prey on tadpoles mostly from the edge of the water and use their good eyesight and high intelligence for hunting. They are known to be particularly good at catching tadpoles and smaller fish compared to other garden birds.
Magpies live in most parts of the world, but they are not as common as crows.
Do Sparrows Eat Tadpoles?
Sparrows are too small to eat tadpoles, but they may eat the eggs of tadpoles/frogs if accessible and from a small frog species. This happens rarely though as sparrows prefer seeds.
Sparrows are common birds that can be found in most parts of the world. They are usually gray or brown with a small beak. Sparrows are known to be very social birds and live in large flocks.
Do Blackbirds Eat Tadpoles?
Like most birds, they are omnivores and will eat a variety of things. This includes insects, worms, and tadpoles.
Blackbirds are a type of bird that is part of the thrush family, which includes birds that are omnivores and will eat smaller animals when given the chance.
However, due to their size, blackbirds typically eat tadpoles that are less than 2 centimeters (1 inch) long.
They are found in many parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America. Blackbirds are usually black/brown with a yellow (male) or brown (female) beak.
Do Blue Jays Eat Tadpoles?
Blue jays are a type of bird that is found in North America. They are part of the same family as crows and magpies and eat a similarly broad diet.
Blue jays will eat tadpoles if accessible, but they cannot eat the largest species if the tadpoles are fully progressed towards the end of the larvae state.
Their beak is big enough to eat tadpoles that are up to 1-3 centimeters long depending on their age!
Blue jays are known to be very territorial and will often chase other birds away from their food.
Do Chickens Eat Tadpoles?
Chickens are known to eat just about anything, including tadpoles if fed to them. Chickens are omnivores and will eat a variety of things.
This includes insects, smaller animals, and tadpoles. Chickens typically eat tadpoles by tearing them apart with their beaks.
Chickens are usually found in enclosures on farms or in private gardens, where some people keep them as pets. Therefore they usually do not have access to ponds or creeks where tadpoles are found.
Additionally, chickens are likely too unintelligent to actively find and catch tadpoles, so the degree to which this happens is likely very low.
Do Robins Eat Tadpoles?
A Robin, like the American robin, is a type of bird that is part of the thrush family. They are found in most parts of the world, including Europe, Asia, and North America.
Whereas the American Robin is able to eat tadpoles, the European robin is the size of a sparrow and simply not capable of fitting them into their beaks!
European robins have a small beaks and cannot eat tadpoles because they are too large to pass through their beaks.
American robins are not directly related to European robins, but share their name because of the red chest. The American robin is more closely related to blackbirds and is big enough to seriously compete with many garden birds for food.
Do Pigeons Eat Tadpoles?
Yes, pigeons will eat tadpoles if they can find and catch them!
They are known to eat tadpoles if offered to them but are not often seen catching them themselves.
This is likely due to their low intelligence and poor hunting abilities. The same is the case for Doves, which are closely related to pigeons e.g. the mourning doves that poop all over your patio.
Pigeons are found in most parts of the urban world. They are usually gray or white with a small beak. Pigeons are known to be very social birds and live in large flocks and often visit backyards.
Do Wood Pigeons Eat Tadpoles?
Yes, as with other pigeons, wood pigeons may eat tadpoles if available to them. Wood pigeons are a type of pigeon that live in areas with forests or backyards with several taller trees. They are omnivores and will eat a variety of things, including tadpoles.
They primarily eat seeds, but will also eat small insects, berries, nuts, and smaller fish.
Wood pigeons live in most parts of the world, but they are not as common as rock pigeons.
Do Ducks Eat Tadpoles?
Ducks are waterfowl that are closely related to geese and swans. They come in a variety of colors and sizes, but they all have webbed feet which help them swim.
Ducks live on every continent except for Antarctica. The most common type of duck in North America is the mallard duck.
Ducks mostly eat plants, but they are in fact omnivores and will also eat small animals, insects, and tadpoles.
Some ducks, like the mallard, will eat larger tadpoles and even small fish and frogs!
Do Geese Eat Tadpoles?
Geese are common waterfowl that can be found in many parts of the world. They typically have grey or brown feathers and a long neck. Geese are known to be very social birds and live in large flocks.
They primarily eat grasses and other plants, but they may also eat small animals, including tadpoles, however, often by accident when foraging in the water! So tadpoles are far from their primary food and geese do not hunt actively for tadpoles.
Actually, they spend most of their time foraging on land rather than in the water!
Geese usually only eat tadpoles if they are unable to find other food, but they have been known to eat them on rare occasions.
What Other Birds Eat Tadpoles?
Now that we have looked into the birds that may eat tadpoles in backyards, let’s take a look at some of the other birds found in forests and lakes around cities.
Do Owls Eat Tadpoles?
No, although some owls like Ketupa and Scotopelia do eat a diet rich in fish, no owls have been observed to eat tadpoles to date.
Most owls eat a diet of land-dwelling smaller animals like rodents, larger insects, and snakes, and very few hunt for food in the water – including some owls that eat crayfish!
Do Egrets Eat Tadpoles?
Egrets are a type of bird that is part of the heron family. Like other herons, they eat mostly fish and sometimes tadpoles. However, they do prefer larger prey but may eat larger tadpoles like those of the bullfrog and those that are in the process of turning into frogs.
They have long necks and feet with webbed toes for swimming. They will usually feed near the water’s edge with their long legs at times holding up their heads to create air spaces for hunting prey underwater.
Do Herons Eat Tadpoles?
Herons are tall water birds that reach up to 1.5m tall with a wingspan of over 2m. They are found in most parts of the world, but they may be more common in some parts than others.
Herons are known for their long stick-like beaks, large nests, and long necks. But there are also smaller herons like the Green Heron, that are especially fond of Bullfrog tadpoles (and crayfish!).
Herons are carnivores and typically feed on fish, frogs, small turtles, and also larger tadpoles. They hunt and stalk their prey in the water.
Herons usually eat larger tadpoles, but they may sometimes eat small tadpoles if there are lots of them and they are easy to catch in high numbers!
Do Kingfishers Eat Tadpoles?
Kingfishers, like a lot of birds, are carnivores. They are known to eat a variety of things, including smaller fish and large tadpoles.
They are fairly good at catching tadpoles (they hunt from the water’s edge) and will eat small fish, insects, frogs, and reptiles too.
Smaller kingfisher species like the pygmy or dwarf kingfisher are particularly fond of frogs and tadpoles and will also eat small lizards.
Do Moorhens Eat Tadpoles?
Moorhens are a type of bird in the rail family. They are small birds that are well known for their ability to dive. Moorhens can be found almost worldwide, except in Africa, Australia, and Antarctica.
Moorhens eat small fish, insects, and also tadpoles. They are particularly well known for eating tadpoles, and can easily catch and eat tadpoles in high numbers.
Moorhens use their feet and webbed feet for swimming and diving, but they can also walk on land, unlike some other waterfowl.
Do Hawks eat Tadpoles?
No, hawks do not eat tadpoles, but they sometimes eat frogs. Although some hawks will hunt near water and eat fish or crayfish, they usually eat larger land animals like rodents.
Hawks are birds of prey, meaning they eat meat from larger animals. Hawks hunt mainly on land and during the day.
They feed on different types of small animals, including small mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, and small birds.
Do Eagles Eat Tadpoles?
No, eagles do not eat tadpoles. They are big carnivorous birds with some species eating fish as their main diet, but tadpoles are simply too small to satisfy the hunger of a large bird like the eagle!
Even the smallest eagle, the South Nicobar serpent eagle, is too big to consider tadpoles a satisfying prey!
How Do Tadpoles Protect Themselves Against Birds?
Tadpoles like to be near the surface during the day because of the sunlight that encourages the growth of the algae which is the main part of their diet. However, this makes them easy prey for birds and other animals nearby.
Therefore, tadpoles protect themselves against birds and other animals by hiding at the bottom of the pond or other water bodies where they live during the morning, evenings and nights where they sleep!
They mostly come out to eat, and will hide if they detect any disturbances on the water surface. In that case, they will stay hidden in the mud or vegetation until the threat leaves.
What Other Backyard Animals Eat Tadpoles?
In addition to backyard birds, other water-associated animals that eat tadpoles include pond fish, other amphibians, dragonfly larvae, and newts.
Fish such as goldfish and koi carps are often kept as pets and they will occasionally eat tadpoles if available.
Amphibians such as frogs and toads also eat each other’s, and even their own, tadpoles! Some turtles also eat tadpoles.
However, not only pond dwelling animals will eat tadpoles, many land dwelling animals will engulf on tadpoles if available.
These include reptiles such as lizards, but also beetles, hedgehogs and rats will also eat tadpoles if they can gain access to them.
But also larger carnivores like wolves and foxes (that are actually omnivores!) may also try their luck at catching tadpoles if the water source is shallow enough (although foxes are actually quite avid swimmers!).
If you’re interested in knowing more about backyard birds or what tadpoles eat or how they sleep, check out my other posts on this blog!