Here’s How Much Food Three Different Birds Need to Eat Daily

From hawks to hummingbirds, avians have some enormous appetites.

This audio story is brought to you by BirdNote, a partner of the National Audubon Society. BirdNote episodes air daily on public radio stations nationwide.


This is BirdNote.

There used to be a saying about somebody who doesn’t eat much — “she eats like a bird.” Just a little of this and a smidgen of that. But how much does a bird typically eat? And how much would you have to eat to match it? Well, depends on the bird. 

As a rule of thumb, the smaller the bird, the more food it needs relative to its weight. A Cooper’s Hawk, a medium-sized bird that hunts other birds, eats around 12 percent of its weight per day. For you, if you weigh … say … 150 pounds, that’s 18 pounds of chow — roughly six extra-large pizzas.

That perky little chickadee flitting back and forth for sunflower seeds from your feeder eats the equivalent of 35 percent of its weight. You, as a 150-pound chickadee, will be munching 600 granola bars a day.

And a tiny hummingbird? It drinks about 100 percent of its body weight per day. That means you’ll be sipping 17½ gallons of milk. Prefer wine or beer? 18 gallons.

If it’s warm outside, you can probably get by on a bit less. But if it’s cold, you’ll need more. So you’d best stock up.

For BirdNote, I’m Mary McCann.



Call of the Pine Siskin provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. [44845] recorded by G.A. Keller, [140257] recorded by Gerrit Vyn, and [117803] recorded by S.R. Pantle. 

BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.

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© 2016 Tune In to  November 2018  Narrator: Mary McCann