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Do Bears Eat Birds & Which Ones?

Do bears eat birds? Yes, they do. They also eat their eggs. Birds are a good source of protein for bears, which helps them to build up their muscle mass.

Bears are omnivores and eat a wide variety of things in the wild, including small mammals, insects, fruits, and vegetables. 

But do they really eat birds, which birds do they eat, and how often do they eat birds?

In this article, we will discuss why bears eat birds and some of the different types of birds that they prey on.

Do Bears Eat Birds?

Yes, bears eat birds. The tricky part is to catch them. Bears are opportunistic predators and will take advantage of any prey that is available, including birds.

Bears eat both birds and their eggs. Both are high in protein, which bears need to build up their muscle mass. 

In the wild, bears typically hunt for ground-dwelling birds such as ptarmigans, grouse, and turkeys. However, they will prey on songbirds and waterfowl if they can get to them.

Bears are great climbers, especially black bears and sun bears. A black bear can scale a tree in seconds.

bear climbing tree

When it comes to scavenging, bears are known to feed on dead birds they find on the ground.

It’s important to note, that most bears mostly feed on plants. Birds do not make up a significant part of their diet.

Studies were done on bears living in Scandinavia mostly prey on birds in the summer and fall.[1][2]

Do Bears Eat Dead Birds?

Bears are scavengers, and they do feed on carrion meat, including birds. Carrion-eating means to feed on dead animals’ carcasses.

Bears consume both whole birds as well as the scavenged remains of dead ones.

Do Bears Eat Bird Eggs?

Yes, bears do eat bird eggs. Eggs are a great source of protein. Most bears need protein in order to survive and thrive. They will steal eggs from birds’ nests.

Bears are opportunistic feeders. They won’t pass up a chance to eat something that’s easily available and nutritious. Bird eggs fit that description perfectly. 

Birds lay between 1 and 12 eggs, which bears will steal right out of the nest. Both grizzly, black, and polar bears show this behavior.[3]

Bears love to feast on the protein-rich eggs of birds. And there’s no evidence that they experience any ill effects from doing so. In fact, for bears, eating bird eggs is a healthy and satisfying way to get their daily dose of protein.

Related: Are Bears Omnivores, Carnivores, or Herbivores?

bear eating on bird feeder

How Do Bears Catch Birds?

Bears usually catch birds by stalking them while they’re on the ground. They will wait until they are close enough to pounce. They may also attack the nest.

Bears have very good vision and can spot prey from a long distance. They also have an excellent sense of smell, which allows them to track down prey even when it’s hidden.

Once the bear is close enough to its prey, it will leap out and grab the bird in its mouth. They also use their paws to knock out their prey.

As birds can fly, bears are not always successful when preying on them. Hence, bears tend to feed more on other animals, such as small mammals, rodents, and ungulates.

bear climbing tree for food

What Bears Eat Birds?

Do Black Bears Eat Birds?

Yes, black bears do eat birds[4]. Black bears are excellent climbers, and can easily climb a tree to gain access to a bird’s nest.

They also utilize their climbing abilities to gain access to bird eggs.

These predators are opportunistic feeders and will take advantage of whatever food is available to them. Birds and their eggs are a valuable source of protein for these animals.

Related: Can bears climb trees?

Do Grizzly Bears Eat Birds?

Yes, grizzly bears do eat birds. However, they don’t do so very often. Due to their size, they have difficulty climbing trees, and will more often scavenge on dead birds.

These large bears eat a variety of animals, including fish, insects, and other small creatures.

While grizzly bears do eat birds, birds don’t make up a large portion of their diet. They’ll typically only feed on birds if they’re easily available, as it’s easier to catch other prey.

Brown bear

Do Polar Bears Eat Birds?

Yes, polar bears do also eat birds. While their main prey includes seals and fish, they hunt for birds when they find any. Due to climate change, polar bears eat increasingly more birds.

Polar bears are the only bears that don’t eat plants. They mostly feed on meat from bearded and ringed seals.

As climate change affects their habitat, fewer and fewer seals are available to them. Hence, they resort to eating birds more often.

One study shows how 90% of all bird nests in a specific area on Greenland were preyed upon by polar bears.[5]

Polar bears will also feed on bird eggs.[6]

angry polar bear

What Birds Do Bears Eat?

Bears eat a variety of birds, including:

  • Geese
  • Ducks
  • Chicken
  • Grouse
  • Seabirds
  • Songbirds
  • Eagles
  • Hawks
  • And more

Related: What do bears eat?

Songbirds

Songbirds are a diverse group of birds that are known for their vocalizations, which is how they got their name. 

They can be found all over the world, and there are many different types of songbirds.

Bears do eat songbirds, and they especially love to eat their eggs. 

Birds of Prey

Birds of prey, also known as raptors, are a group of predatory birds that use their talons to catch and kill their prey. They are some of the most efficient predators in the animal kingdom.

There are many different types of raptors, and they can be found all over the world. Some of the most common raptors include:

  • Eagles
  • Hawks
  • Falcons
  • Owls

Bears do eat birds of prey, but they typically don’t hunt them as their main source of food.

Poultry

Poultry is a term that refers to domesticated birds that are raised for their meat or eggs. The most common types of poultry include: 

  • Chickens
  • Turkeys
  • Ducks

Bears do eat poultry, but they typically don’t hunt them as their main source of food[7].

Poultry is easier to catch compared to other birds, and they’re typically slower.

Conclusion

Bears do eat birds, as well as their eggs. Birds are a high-protein food source that bears need in order to survive and thrive. Bears will either hunt live birds, scavenge on dead birds, or eat bird eggs by raiding their nests.

Most bears feed on birds, though different bears feed on different species, depending on where they live.

About Dennis Stapleton

Dennis Stapleton has a passion for animals, especially dogs, and their relatives. He’s intrigued by their social structure and loves to write and teach about the world's most popular pet animal.