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10 Birds That Love to Eat Ticks (with Pictures)

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Tick

We love to study different birds and their rituals. They can be our little companions in life or a source of admiration. Their intelligence will astound many as they can communicate with people and be their loyal friends.

They are also amazing gatherers since it is in their nature to scavenge seeds and insects in the ground for feeding. Other than their usual preferred meals, like worms, grubs, and other tiny insects, some of these creatures love to feed on ticks.

Ticks are parasitic arachnids commonly disliked by anyone who comes in contact with them. These little bloodsuckers can cause significant damage to both animals and humans if they are not properly treated. In this article, you will learn about some fascinating birds, their behavior, and why some of them enjoy eating ticks.

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The 10 Birds That Love to Eat Ticks

1. Ducks

A Ruddy duck on a river

Image Credit: gayleenfroese2, Pixabay

Order Anseriformes
Size 13–17”
Habitat Wetlands (large marshes, ponds, deep natural basins, lakes, reservoirs)
Diet Aquatic insects, aquatic plants, seeds, and some types of invertebrates

Ducks are birds that are spread widely all around the world. You can find them anywhere near water, close to rivers, lakes, ponds, or even a farm backyard. These beautiful creatures are mostly omnivorous; even if they are wild or domestic, they will independently search for food and always find their way to stay well fed. Their diets primarily consist of insects, aquatic plants, or even fish.

Although their favorite meals are insects like mosquitoes, flies, and others, ducks also love eating ticks. If you keep them as domestic animals on a farm, they will find their way to long and thick grasses and fields and search for ticks to eat. This is an excellent opportunity for most farmers who have to deal with pests and ticks daily. These birds will consume up to thousands of tucks daily, and while they might not solve the ongoing battle with ticks, they will undoubtedly lower the problem to a minimum.


2. Chickens

Chicken

Image Credit: Danganhfoto, Pixabay

Order Galliformes
Size Average height is 27.6”
Habitat Most are raised in captivity (farm fields or factory farms), some in wilderness (open canopies and underlying shrubs)
Diet Fruits, vegetables, grains, and insects

As ticks have multiplied over the past few years, it is becoming a bigger problem for farmers daily. They can spread dangerous diseases and affect house and wild animals.

Chicken is one of the most common domestic animals in the world. While people keep these birds and take care of them mainly for their eggs and meat, they have other advantages. These birds have a strong, sharp beak that they mostly use to find seeds and insects to eat. With that being their usual diet, they do also love eating ticks. They occasionally peck a few ticks out in the field, foraging for seeds and worms.

While that doesn’t sound particularly fascinating, believe it or not, chickens are a great solution to the ongoing tick problem. They can significantly lower the numbers of ticks in gardens and fields, helping not only them but their entire flock and other animals in that household.


3. Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey

Image Credit: MOHANN, Pixabay

Order Galliformes
Size 43–45”
Habitat Open and humid forests, grassy savannah,  field edges, and roadsides
Food  Plant matter, nuts, seeds, and insects

This particular bird, recognizable by their distinctive sound and wattle, is mainly known for being a destructive and unwanted creature to be kept int your garden. Farmers are not so fond of wild turkeys because they will destroy and eat their crops and vegetables if given a chance.

Turkeys mostly enjoy eating seeds, plants, fruits, and insects, but like other birds on this list, ticks come as a fine delicacy for them once in a while. As domestic animals kept in your field, they can minimize the problem of ticks by consuming large amounts of them daily. Even wild turkeys have an essential role in this project. Their habitats include woodlands, grasslands, and swamps, where they will scavenge for any insect to consume, and ticks are a treat to find.


4. Quails

Quail

Image Credit: terforeign, Pixabay

Order Galliformes
Size 10–12”
Habitat Desert grasslands and shrublands, thorny vegetation, crop fields and pastures
Diet Seeds, leaves, and insects

Quails are common ground-feeding birds that some people hunt as a game bird. Still, some also raise them for commercial production. They are flightless creatures that usually live in grasslands and open areas and can be found in their natural habitats worldwide.

These birds hunt for bugs in tall grasses. Their diets consist primarily of plants and other insects, but from time to time, when they come across these bloodsuckers, they will dive with their heads in the grass and with their beaks pluck and eat them. They can hunt and consume a large number of ticks, which makes them very useful for farmers to have in yards and fields.


5. Roadrunners

Order Cuculiformes
Size 20–21”
Habitat Desert Southwest woodlands, canyons, grasslands)
Diet Reptiles, frogs, toads, insects, scorpions

A roadrunner is another omnivore bird that feeds by foraging the ground for insects. Other than eating common insects, these birds feed on lizards, snakes, and mice, so it is not that rare to come across a few ticks.  They pick up ticks from their feathers and skin and eat them for most of their time feeding. Even though they consume ticks on a regular basis and in large quantities, that is still not enough to eradicate the problem, but it is enough to keep it as low as possible.


6. Woodpeckers

male Hairy Woodpecker

Image Credit: JackBulmer, Pixabay

Order Piciformes
Size 10–16”
Habitat Mountain forests, deserts, and desert scrubs
Diet Insects, beetle larvae, nuts, and fruits

Being the habitants of forests, these interesting birds love to peck on three trunks and find any insects that may hide underneath the surface. They have a long, pointed and skillful beak that they use to probe around tree trunks, looking for their next meal. Their diets mainly consist of insects, larvae, and nuts, but if a tick wanders off on one of the branches or tree trunks, they will not spare him. When they get a hold of a tick on a tree trunk, they puncture its body with their sharp beaks and afterward consume them.


7. Oxpecker

Oxpecker

Image Credit: Amandad, Pixabay

Order Passeriformes
Size 7–9”
Habitat Grasslands, savannas
Diet Ticks, flies, maggots, and all kinds of larvae

The oxpecker is one of the few birds that feed on ticks and other pests. They live in open areas that are not too dry, like grasslands and savannas. These birds peck on larger animals’ wounds, cleaning their skin from parasites. With their sharp beaks, they peck on the skin of larger animals like buffalo, rhinos, and zebras, feeding on whatever insect they can find. Mostly those insects include ticks, lice, fleas, and other pests.


8. Partridge

Partridge

Image Credit: ELG21, Pixabay

Order Galliformes
Size 12”
Habitat forests, moist meadows, near water sources and agricultural land
Diet Grain, seeds, grass, and insects

These unique ground-feeding birds are, like quails, mainly used for hunting as a game bird. They usually live near agricultural land but can mostly be found in forests and meadows near water. Other than the usual insects they gather and feed on, these birds love to hunt and consume ticks and other disease-spreading pests. They can catch insects effortlessly because of their brush-like tongues. The surface of their tongue consists of tiny, thick bristles that help them hunt ticks and other insects in tall grasses or even under leaves. They gather and hunt pretty fast, which is a great way to lower the numbers of ticks that would otherwise infest animals in their surroundings.


9. Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Image Credit: Canadian-Nature-Visions, Pixabay

Order Pelecaniformes
Size 18–22”
Habitat Coastal barrier islands, reservoirs, lakes, quarries, swamps, riverside woodlands, Upland forests, and farm fields
Diet Insects, some invertebrates, frogs, fish, birds and some mammals

These birds can be found in many parts of the world, living in open grasslands, cattle pastures and farm fields. They hunt for food either alone or in a loose flock of hundreds of birds. Cattle Egrets have broad diet choices; that includes grasshoppers, crickets, spiders, ticks, larvae, etc. They mainly forage for insects and pests found on grazing cattle, feeding on the bloodsucking parasites, like ticks. They peck off the ticks from the skins of cows and other livestock and prevent the spreading of any diseases. This bird’s favorite choice is a Lone Star Tick, which is the most common type of tick found in the Southeast of the United States.


10. Guinea Fowl

Guinea Fowl

Image Credit: MonikaP, Pixabay

Order Galliformes
Size 15–28”
Habitat Grasslands, thornveld, and agricultural land
Diet insects, arachnids, mosquitoes, ticks, beetles, slugs, worms, weed seeds, grass, dandelions, weeds

This bird is one of the oldest ground-feeders, originating from Africa, but now range all around the world. They can be domesticated or live in the wild. In the wilderness, they tend to follow herds of bigger animals and feed on bugs found in animal carcasses and manure. These birds have been very effective in eradicating ticks from fields and yards; some farmers are even using them to lower the numbers of ticks in their fields. The Guinea Fowl will stay around animals in herds and, with their beaks, pick on bodies in search of ticks and swallow them whole. They also tend to search around in tall grasses for their next meal.

Related Read: Can Birds Eat Bananas? What You Need to Know!hummingbird divider

Can ticks attach themselves to birds?

Of course, ticks can also get attached to birds and other animals. Birds often carry ticks because it is very easy for them to stick to unreachable areas. The most affected areas include the skin around the eyes, the bill, or the head. The most common birds to carry ticks are chickens because of the environment they live in. They usually spend time in cooped-up spaces, around other chickens, or in fields; these areas contain high amounts of ticks. After the tick has finished feeding on the blood of birds, it separates and drops off.

What are natural predators of ticks?

Other than the birds we’ve mentioned that feed on ticks, many natural predators consume ticks. The most common animals and insects that eat ticks are ants, spiders, birds, frogs, lizards, squirrels, opossums.

What is biocontrol?

Biocontrol or biological control is a method for limiting the number of organisms, like pests and insects in an environment, by using other living organisms. It uses insects’ natural predators to eradicate or lower their numbers, which controls or imitates the natural conditions of development in a habitat.

hummingbird dividerFinal Thoughts

We’ve counted in this article most of the birds that feed with ticks. These birds are fascinating to study and research. They have a lot of interesting facts about them and a lot of fascinating aspects of their behavior.

There are surging numbers of ticks in the environment, and since using chemicals to fight off insects is not a humane way to deal with problems, we suggest having in your yard a bird that will keep those levels to a minimum. While these methods have been proven to be helpful in the past for lowering the numbers of these pests in gardens worldwide, this is not a foolproof method and will never eradicate all ticks.

Hopefully, you have a better image of how this feeding chain works and why it is not necessarily wrong to have your birds feed on pests and lower their numbers.


Featured Image Credit: JerzyGorecki, Pixabay

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

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