Birds that eat cockroaches…

posted in: Feeding-invertebrates | 6

In January 2016, Aviculturist Lee Chiu San wrote on birds eating large cockroaches, based on aviculture and not observations from the wild as follows LINK:

“The feeding of cockroaches to aviary birds is something that should only be done by experienced bird keepers with a trusted source of uncontaminated supply. The average domestic cockroach has been in drains and has probably been sprayed with countless dozes of insecticide. It is definitely not something you want to feed to precious pets.

“However, in chicken farms, feed mills, and other places where food is prepared, insecticides cannot be used. In Singapore today, cockroaches are no longer allowed to exist in such places. But they can still be found in large numbers in feed mills in neighbouring countries. Some are sent to Singapore as a cheaper alternative to the crickets that fanciers feed to their birds. Knowledgeable aviculturalists never feed cockroaches directly to their birds from the supplier. The roaches are usually kept for a week or two and fattened on more nutritious food, especially fruits. The fruits have two effects. They provide the vitamin C and roughage that many insectivorous birds ingest indirectly through their prey. And fruits are purgative, so they hopefully empty contaminants out of the guts of the cockroaches before the insects themselves wind up inside the birds.”

Birds that eat such cockroaches include almost all the large insectivores and small carnivores and they include:

Babblers, Coucals, Jays, Junglefowl, Laughingthrushes, Makholas, Mynas (most species), Orioles, Owls (Scops Owl), Parrots (most species), Peafowl, Pheasants, Rail (Salty-breasted Rail), Starlings (most species), Thrush larger than a Shama and Tree Pies.

American Cockroach (Photo credit: Dr Redzlan Abdul Rahman)
American Cockroach (Photo credit: Dr Redzlan Abdul Rahman)

BESG has a collection of posts on wild birds eating the large American Cockroach (Periplaneta americana) (above). These include:

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) LINK.

Oriental Magpie Robin (Copsychus saularis) LINK.

White-breasted Waterhen (Amaurornis phoenicurus) caught a small cockroach and offered it to its partner LINK.

Birds catching and eating forest cockroach (Pseudophoraspis nebulosa) (below) include:

Forest Cockroach (Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei)
Forest Cockroach (Photo credit: Jeremiah Loei)

Collared Kingfisher (Todiramphus chloris) that caught one and fed it to a chick LINK.

Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus paradisus) LINK.

Tiger Shrike (Lanius tigrinus) LINK.

Lee Chiu San & YC Wee
30th December 2016

6 Responses

  1. Lee Chiu San

    Was it a mistake, my including parrots among the birds that eat cockroaches? There was no mistake. From my experience with most parrots of different genera above medium sized (Psittacula, Lorius, Eos, Eclectus, Cacatua and many others) most a pretty omnivorous. The lories and lorikeets are especially adventurous in trying out to see if anything is edible. They will quite happily catch and eat insects, lizards and even smaller birds unfortunate to get through the bars of their aviaries.
    By the way, almost all parrots also enjoy alcoholic drinks and become fighting drunk. I don’t offer them booze, but my free-roaming parrots have helped themselves to rum-soaked fruits when my wife was baking, and have also taken sips from the drinks of my guests at parties.
    If you are wondering, yes, they do suffer from hangovers.

  2. Lee Chiu San

    Sorry to say that videos of drunken birds will probably only show them sleeping and moaning. Yes, parrots groan very convincingly when recovering from hangovers.

  3. YC Wee

    Comments from a 2005 post:

    “Many years ago in the western foothills of the California Sierra apple orchards were common and I happened to be next to one talking to a friend. At that moment, a Robin walked out from underneath his pickup eyed us and fell over on its’ side. “Don’t pay it no mind. It’ll be OK. it’s just drunk as a skunk. Look over there.”, he gestured toward the orchard. That’s when I noticed that it was full of noisy, very wobbly Robins. The apples still on the trees had frozen and fermented as they thawed.

    Imagine, a bar room filled with drunks who could fly. They were singing, fighting, and missing branches by feet in their attempts to land. Occasionally, a bird would apparently just pass out and fall off a limb in the boneless drop of the truly whacked. Some had abandoned flight altogether and were weaving through the grass.”

    “It happens every so often when we get a frost before the pick’s finished. Robins are the worst. My wife says they must of was Irish in another life. Tommorrow, it’ll be real quiet. Man could make a fortune off asprin if those birds had money.”

  4. Jackie Tate

    It seems like the main objection to using birds as a controller of roach infestation is insecticides.

    I wonder if any towns have tried banning the use of roach poison and instead tried to promote a large avian population? Encouraging citizens to adopt avian pets and possibly adding trees to the local parks that would attract the type of birds in question.

    It seems like that might make for a mu h cleaner healthier environment, not to mention, having a large variety of of birds and many throughout the city would be a nice way to attract tourists.

    Also, I don’t know if chickens eat roaches, but I recall that a section in Tampa FL had free ranging chickens and roosters. They seemed to be oriented around one park in particular.

  5. YC Wee

    Cockroaches are found mostly “indoors” like messy kitchens, rubbish chutes, sewerage drains/channels/sewers where waste food is readily available… But these locations are not readily accessible to birds…

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