A Complete Guide To Safely Feeding Mealworms To Wild Birds

Mealworms provide an excellent source of protein and nutrients for wild birds. Their crunchy exoskeletons also help provide essential calcium for strong bones and egg production. However, proper storage and serving techniques are needed to safely feed mealworms.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick overview: Store dried mealworms in the fridge to prevent spoilage. Soak in water before feeding to restore moisture and nutrients. Offer live worms in small dishes or platform feeders to attract various bird species. Mash up cooked worms for young birds.

This comprehensive guide covers everything you need to know about buying, storing, preparing, and serving mealworms to wild birds in your backyard.

Purchasing High Quality Mealworms

When it comes to feeding mealworms to wild birds, it is important to ensure that you are purchasing high quality mealworms. Here are some tips on how to do so:

Buy Dried for Long Shelf Life

If you are looking for a convenient and long-lasting option, consider buying dried mealworms. Dried mealworms have a longer shelf life compared to live mealworms, making them a practical choice for bird feeding.

These dried mealworms can be easily stored and kept for extended periods without losing their nutritional value. You can find a wide variety of dried mealworms from reputable bird feeding supply stores or online retailers.

Ensure Mealworms are Active When Buying Live

If you prefer to feed live mealworms to wild birds, it is essential to ensure that the mealworms you purchase are active and healthy. Active mealworms indicate freshness and vitality, making them more appealing to birds.

When buying live mealworms, check for signs of activity such as movement and wriggling. Avoid any mealworms that appear sluggish or motionless, as they may be nearing the end of their lifespan.

Avoid Mealworms Packaged with Additives

When choosing mealworms for bird feeding, it is advisable to avoid mealworms that are packaged with additives or preservatives. These additives can be harmful to the birds and may affect their overall health. Opt for mealworms that are free from any artificial ingredients or chemicals.

Natural and additive-free mealworms provide a healthier and safer option for wild birds.

For more information on purchasing high quality mealworms, you can visit reputable websites such as Audubon or Bird Watcher’s Digest, which provide valuable insights and recommendations on bird feeding supplies.

Proper Storage and Handling

Feeding mealworms to wild birds can be a great way to attract a variety of species to your backyard. However, it is essential to properly store and handle the mealworms to ensure their freshness and safety for the birds. Here are some important guidelines to follow:

Refrigerate Dried Mealworms

If you are using dried mealworms, it is recommended to store them in a cool and dry place. To maintain their freshness and nutritional value, it’s best to refrigerate them. The low temperature helps to prevent the growth of bacteria or mold, ensuring that the mealworms remain safe for consumption by the birds.

Additionally, storing dried mealworms in a sealed container can help to keep them fresh for a longer period.

Store Live Worms in Oat Bran

For those who prefer to feed live mealworms to the birds, it’s important to provide them with a suitable environment. One effective way to store live mealworms is by placing them in a container with oat bran.

The oat bran serves as a bedding material, keeping the worms comfortable and providing them with a source of nutrients. It also helps to absorb excess moisture, preventing the worms from becoming damp and potentially spoiling.

Discard Any Dead Mealworms

When handling mealworms, it’s crucial to regularly check for any dead worms. Dead mealworms can quickly decompose and become a breeding ground for bacteria. To ensure the safety of the wild birds, it is recommended to remove and discard any dead mealworms promptly.

By doing so, you can prevent the potential transmission of harmful pathogens and maintain the overall quality of the mealworms.

Soak Dried Ones in Water Before Serving

If you are using dried mealworms, it’s a good practice to soak them in water before offering them to the birds. Soaking the dried mealworms helps to rehydrate them, making them easier for the birds to consume.

This is especially beneficial during dry seasons when birds may have limited access to water sources. By rehydrating the mealworms, you are providing the birds with an additional source of hydration.

Remember, following proper storage and handling techniques ensures the safety and freshness of the mealworms, making them a healthy and nutritious treat for the wild birds in your area.

Feeding Techniques for Various Birds

Offer Live or Soaked Mealworms in Shallow Dishes

When it comes to feeding mealworms to birds, offering live or soaked mealworms in shallow dishes is a popular technique. Many bird species, such as robins, bluebirds, and wrens, are attracted to the movement of live mealworms.

To provide live mealworms, you can purchase them from local pet stores or online suppliers. Alternatively, you can soak dried mealworms in water for a few minutes to rehydrate them before placing them in a shallow dish.

This method can be particularly effective for attracting insect-eating birds to your backyard.

Use Platform Feeders to Attract Shyer Birds

Some bird species, like cardinals and jays, are known to be more cautious and shy when it comes to feeding. To cater to these birds, using platform feeders can be a great technique. Platform feeders provide a larger feeding area and allow birds to feel more comfortable while feeding.

You can place live or dried mealworms on the platform feeder, ensuring that it is easily accessible for the birds. This technique not only attracts shyer birds but also allows you to observe them from a closer distance.

Sprinkle Dried Ones on the Ground for Ground Feeders

For ground-feeding birds, such as sparrows and towhees, sprinkling dried mealworms on the ground can be an effective feeding technique. Ground feeders are more likely to forage for food on the ground, so scattering dried mealworms in open areas can attract these birds.

Ensure that the ground is clear of any potential dangers or obstacles that could harm the birds while they feed. Additionally, make sure to check local regulations or guidelines regarding feeding birds on the ground, as some areas may have restrictions.

Mash Up Cooked Ones for Young Birds

When feeding young birds, especially those that are still in the nest, it is important to provide them with easily digestible food. One technique is to mash up cooked mealworms into a paste consistency.

This can be done by boiling dried mealworms in water until they soften, and then mashing them with a fork or blending them until smooth. The resulting paste can be fed to young birds using a small spoon or syringe.

This technique ensures that the food is safe and easily consumable for the young birds.

Tips for Safely Feeding Mealworms

Mealworms are a nutritious and popular food source for many species of wild birds. If you want to attract birds to your garden or backyard, feeding them mealworms can be a great way to do so. However, it’s important to follow some safety guidelines to ensure that the birds remain healthy and safe.

Here are some tips to help you safely feed mealworms to wild birds:

Don’t Feed Too Many to Prevent Choking

While mealworms are a delicious treat for birds, it’s important to avoid overfeeding them. Feeding too many mealworms at once can increase the risk of choking for birds, especially smaller species. It’s best to offer mealworms in small quantities and observe the birds’ behavior.

If they are quickly consuming the worms and coming back for more, you can gradually increase the amount.

Discard Uneaten Portions Within 24 Hours

Mealworms can spoil quickly, especially in warm weather. To prevent the growth of harmful bacteria and fungi, it’s essential to remove any uneaten portions of mealworms within 24 hours. This will help maintain the hygiene of the feeding area and ensure that the birds are not consuming spoiled or contaminated food.

Avoid Handling After Using Insecticides

If you use insecticides or pesticides in your garden or backyard, it’s important to avoid handling mealworms immediately after application. These chemicals can be harmful to birds if ingested along with the mealworms.

Wait for the recommended waiting period mentioned on the product label before offering mealworms to the birds. This will help ensure that the mealworms are safe for consumption.

Store All Bird Food Securely to Limit Pests

Pests like ants, mice, and rats are attracted to bird food, including mealworms. To prevent infestations and keep the birds’ food supply safe, it’s important to store all bird food, including mealworms, in secure containers.

This will help deter pests and ensure that the mealworms remain fresh and free from contamination.

Following these tips will help you safely feed mealworms to wild birds and create an inviting environment for them. Remember to always prioritize the well-being and safety of the birds when providing food sources.


When stored and served properly, mealworms are a nutritious supplemental food source that will attract an array of wild birds to your backyard. Follow these guidelines to safely feed both live and dried mealworms.

With the right handling and feeding techniques, you can offer high-protein worms while preventing spoilage and contamination. Mealworms will add variety to your feeders and benefit adult and baby birds alike.

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