do cicadas keep birds away

For the past week, Brood X Cicadas have been increasing in numbers each day . . . and my bird feeders have been almost empty of birds. With so many delicious cicadas to eat, most but not all, of my local backyard birds don’t need to come to feeders.

The Cicada Explosion

One of the world’s natural wonders is the simultaneous appearance of millions of cicadas in 13- and 17-year cycles throughout the East Coast and Midwest. However, many people find it frightening rather than amazing when millions of enormous, red-eyed insects suddenly appear.

From North Carolina to Connecticut, brood II cicadas are currently buzzing and laying eggs throughout their range. Andrew Liebhold, a forest pest expert with the U. S. According to the Forest Service’s Northern Research Station in Morgantown, West Virginia, cicadas emerge simultaneously primarily as an evolutionary strategy to elude bird consumption. “You will probably never notice 99. 99 percent of all insect species, he claims, because they never experience epidemics. “That’s because birds keep insect populations in check. According to Liebhold, “periodic cicadas are amazing because they have found a way around that.” The sudden appearance of so many cicadas on the landscape makes it difficult for predators, such as birds, to eat them all and still have any effect on the population.

Cicadas Emerge Gradually From Underground

I reside in central Maryland, in the region where the 17-year Brood X Cicadas are most concentrated. For weeks now, I’ve been noticing small holes in the soil of my yard. At first though, there was not a cicada in sight. Then one or two. However, in recent weeks, I’ve noticed that there are more and more cicadas in the yard every day.

do cicadas keep birds away

When the soil temperature reaches a sufficient level (roughly 64 degrees), brood X cicadas emerge from the ground at night. They scale the nearest tree (in my yard, it could also be the closest daylily or milkweed plant). They emerge from their husks during the dark hours and become their red-eyed adult above-ground selves. I discover their abandoned light brown husks clinging to the plants in the mornings. Sometimes the cicada itself is sitting nearby, but often not.

I see more and more cicadas most days. Now, if you sit outside, you can occasionally see one fly across the yard in an awkward manner. What I’m not seeing is birds at my feeders. Most of the birds have seemingly disappeared.

do cicadas keep birds away

Our Feeders Supplement Birds’ Native Foods

Although cicadas are benign insects, I applaud birds for finding a good food source in the natural world. It serves as a reminder that the food provided at our feeders is intended to supplement the diet of birds. It is not the whole of what they eat. For a few weeks, my wallet will also be a little happier because I won’t need to refill my feeders as frequently. When the cicadas complete their overhead cycle and vanish once more, I anticipate that birds will return to my feeders in a proportion more consistent with summertime.

(6/6/21) The majority of the time, we still hear the hum of cicadas in our yard, but I’m beginning to notice more dead adult cicadas scattered across the ground. (At first I was just seeing the empty tan husks. Additionally, I’ve noticed a very slight increase in bird activity in my feeder area over the past few days.

Three cardinals made a sentimental visit to the former feeding ground a few days ago. They lingered in the vicinity for a little while but did not eat at the feeders. These days, though they don’t eat at the feeders, I still spot a few cardinals in the trees surrounding them every day.

I witnessed a Tufted Titmouse visit the feeders twice yesterday, once for a sunflower chip and once for a peanut split. It’s been a few weeks since I last saw one at the feeder. Additionally, a White-Breasted Nuthatch visited today to have a similar snack of a split peanut and sunflower chip. Once more, not since the arrival of the cicadas have I seen one at the feeders.

Downy Woodpeckers have started to appear at the suet feeders, maybe once a day or so. Today a trio of them stopped by the feeders. At least one was a fledgling whose parents were introducing it to the suet feeders.

6/19/21: The birds are slowly making their way back to the feeders, and my yard is quiet once more. The number of cicadas varies greatly depending on the location, so they might still be active in other parts of the state or the area, but they’ve tapered off in my yard. Only a few have flown by in the last day.

do cicadas keep birds away


Are birds afraid of cicadas?

It is extremely sure that some (if not most insectivorous) birds will gladly take cicadas as a snack. Some insectivorous birds have beaks that were specifically designed to tackle large insects including cicadas, some examples include broadbills and kingfishers.

Which birds eat cicadas?

They are therefore consumed by relatively large birds, including raptors, herons, gulls, cuckoos, bee-eaters and rollers (Sazima 2009), but some small passerines are also known to eat cicadas (Koenig and Liebhold 2005).

Do blue jays eat cicadas?

Usually they limit their predation to stolen eggs and the occasional baby bird, but they also readily devour larger insects like cicada and grasshoppers if they see them.

Are cicadas bad for the environment?

Cicadas are not dangerous and can provide some environmental benefits including: Cicadas are a valuable food source for birds and other predators. Cicadas can aerate lawns and improve water filtration into the ground.