Insect Eaters

Insects are available virtually everywhere in the world and most birds eat them as a part of their diet. Some of the smaller birds are mainly; in some cases exclusively, insect eaters. Using common names, the following groups account for most of the species which I regard as insect eaters:-

Sub-Groups Species

• Swifts, Swallows and similar birds 328
• Flycatchers – Old World 123
• Flycatchers – New World 431
• Warblers - Old World 283
• Australasian Warblers 62
• Warblers – New World 119**
• Cisticolas and Prinias - Africa 128
• Ovenbirds family Furnariidae – South America 247
• OW Babblers plus Catbirds, Thrashers in Americas 334
• Wrens 80
• Chats, Robins and similar birds mainly OW 209*
• Fantails and Monarchs, Old World 139
• Tits WW, White-eyes Africa, similar birds. 242
• Antbirds, South America. Pittas, Australia . 345
• Others 215

Total 3285

I differentiate between insect eating birds by considering the way in which they find their prey:-

Observe and catch.

Some birds see inects and fly to pursue and catch them in flight or snatch them from the ground. I have divided them into:-

1. Aerial feeders - which can be split further into:-

  • Nocturnal feeders – which include Frogmouths, Potoos, Nightjars, Owlet nightjars and the Oilbird which only takes fruit.
  • Diurnal feeders – including Swifts, Swallows and Martins, Pratincoles.
  • Specialised feeders – such as the Bee eaters and Jacamars as well as the Oxpeckers and New World Cowbirds.

2. Fly out and catch feeders - which include Old World and New World Flycatchers, Monarch Flycatchers and some species of Rollers.

3. Fly down and snatch feeders – which include Australasian Robins, New World Bluebirds, Old World Robins and Chats and at least one of the Accentors.

Glean from surface.

These birds are opportunistic and explore various surfaces and crevices where insects are likely to be found. Niches can be remarkably specific and I am still in the process of studying them so the placements I have made should be regarded as work in progress.

1. Foliage Gleaners – some of these birds are so specialised that their niches in the foliage can be defined as low-level, mid-level and canopy. Birds I have placed here include Warblers, Wrens and Gnatcatchers.

2. Branch tip Gleaners – birds in this sub-group are small and light and are often found gleaning insects at the tips of the outer branches of trees and bushes. I have placed birds like Tits and White-eyes here.

3. Thicket and dense bush Gleaners – birds included here at present are mainly Babblers.

4. Forest litter Gleaners – these birds include Bald Crows, Quail Thrushes, Ground Rollers, Pittas, Scrub-birds, Bristlebirds, Thornbills, Logrunners, Whipbirds, Wattled Crows, Water Thrushes, Ant Birds, Gnat Eaters, Tapulcos.