Ticks are tiny bugs that spark big fears. They are known to be carriers of Lyme disease and bacteria, pathogens, and viruses.
There are many ways to keep your yard free from ticks, such as regularly mowing your lawn and keeping it clear of leaf piles. However, some people keep around certain bird species known for feasting on the little bug for extra protection.
What bird eats ticks? It is most commonly the ground-feeding species such as chickens, guineas, turkeys, ducks, and quail. However, flyers such as woodpeckers and oxpeckers eat ticks too!
Table of Contents
List of Birds That Eats Ticks
Ticks rarely move on their own – they prefer to settle down atop a blade of grass and patiently wait. They will then cling to whatever living organism brushes against them next and begin feeding off of it.
Therefore, any bird hoping to eat some ticks for dinner must be willing to go out and actively search for them instead of simply waiting for the tick to cross its path.
Ground-feeding birds are perfect for the job: assuming they are uncaged, wild birds eat ticks as they roam around, pecking at the grass and soil to see what they can find.
However, all birds are known to be opportunistic eaters, and many kind of birds eat ticks.
For now, though, here is a list of seven celebrated tick-eating birds:
Chickens are some of the easiest farm animals to own: they keep to themselves, foraging all day, eating anything they can find, and they provide a steady supply of meat and eggs. They have also earned a reputation for being voracious tick eaters!
Generally, however, lighter breeds make better tick hunters since heavier breeds, such as the Cornish Cross, would prefer to rest in the shade than scavenge for food.
Also, one downside of owning chickens is the damage they may do to your garden and lawn from all their pecking around.
Guineas or guineafowl are voracious tick eaters: they can eat as much as a thousand ticks in a single day! One reason this is so is that they are willing to cover a broader area to scavenge for food than chickens.
However, guineas can be tricky to keep as pets because they tend to be loud and annoying. They are also notoriously high-strung and always find ways to escape to run towards roads!
Turkeys are great tick hunters because they are relatively tall and can pick through taller grasses and weeds. They reportedly eat tens of thousands of the bug throughout their life.
However, other breeds are better for the job, particularly the smaller heritage breeds. Broad-breasted white turkeys, which are usually bred for the market, do not often actively seek out bugs.
As an aside, pheasants, the turkey’s cousin in the Phasianidae family, do not eat ticks. They may be carriers of Lyme disease themselves!
Ducks seem to have all the advantages of the other birds – they are taller birds, just like turkeys, don’t scratch around your garden like chickens, and don’t make a lot of noise like guineas.
However, ducks do need water to survive. While this may pose a problem to those living in the middle of an urban jungle, those near water sources can rejoice.
As the ducks waddle around and play in the muddy water, the ducks eat ticks and other bugs who also love moist areas!
And by the way, their cousin, the geese, eat ticks, too.
Quails are great birds to own because they are less expensive than chickens, require tiny living spaces, and wouldn’t mind eating ticks every day. And since ticks are exceptionally high in protein, you wouldn’t need to feed your quail much else.
As quails are so easy to maintain and highly effective against ticks, towns and farms are encouraged to breed them as a preventive measure.
Certain areas in the US have also released bobwhite quails in their city parks to clear up the tick population and keep the place safe for citizens.
Though woodpeckers generally prefer nuts and seeds, they will eat almost anything they can find in their chosen tree, including ticks and fleas!
Oxpeckers are beautiful songbirds that are also extremely friendly and helpful: they are birds that eat ticks off cows, antelopes, oxen (hence their name!), or whatever other animal they happen to perch on.
It is a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship in nature: the oxpecker gets food, while the host gets cleaned. Oh, and the tick? Well, the tick got to enjoy the last few moments of its life!
Other Birds That Eat Ticks
This list is the tip of the iceberg: many other birds eat ticks and mosquitoes. Some of them include the following:
- Robins are great birds in your garden if you are not interested in owning farm animals but want to manage ticks!
- Crows eat ticks because they are high in protein and fat. Many people have shared stories on the internet of crows picking ticks of wallabies, deer, boar, and other animals, similar to how oxpeckers do it.
- Sparrows are one of the most opportunistic species, willing to eat almost anything they come across, including mosquitoes and ticks!
- Partridges, egrets, grouse, roadrunners, and many more!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the natural predator of ticks?
Being small bugs and somewhat low on the food chain, ticks have many natural predators, including birds, toads, frogs, and sometimes even ants and spiders.
Of all the predators, though, the most prolific tick eater is the opossum which can eat up to 5,000 ticks per season!
What breed of chickens eat ticks?
All chicken breeds eat ticks, provided they can roam freely and do not remain locked in their cage.
Some breeds are known to be better at catching ticks, though, including the Guinea Hen, Ameraucana, Brown Leghorn, Buckeye, Fayoumi, Golden Comet, Hamburg, and Old English Game.
Generally speaking, these are lighter breeds that are more agile and willing to scavenge. Heavier breeds, such as the Cornish Cross, are not good options for tick hunters.
Besides chickens, quails, turkeys, ducks, and geese eat ticks, too.
Do chickens really help with ticks?
It depends on how many ticks you have. Chickens eat a lot of ticks, but more than they may be needed to wipe out an entire infestation.
Other species, such as guineafowl, might be a better option for getting rid of a more significant number of ticks.
Can ticks get on chickens?
Unfortunately, yes – ticks can get on chickens.
The ticks that enjoy fowl, in particular, don’t often carry Lyme disease. They tend to carry Avian spirochetosis instead, a potentially life-threatening infection for your chicken.
The key to keeping your chickens safe from ticks is cleanliness – if you regularly clean your chicken coop, you and your chickens should be safe!
How else can I get rid of ticks on my property?
Aside from adopting birds, here are other simple ways to keep your yard free from ticks:
- Remove leaf piles to avoid creating tick breeding grounds
- Mow your lawn and clear tall grasses, particularly those at the edge of lawns.
- Create a barrier or fence and stay at least 3 feet away from wooded areas near your home.
- Discourage wild animals which may carry ticks, such as raccoons, stray dogs, and deer, from entering your yard.
- Keep your yard neat and clean: do not leave piles of garbage, discarded items, etc.
Ticks can be problematic to have around your home. You never know what diseases they carry that can transmit to you or your family.
Thankfully, there are many simple ways to keep them away, including raising a few birds! What bird eats ticks? Almost all, but you should specifically consider having a few chickens, guineas, ducks, or robins around.
Besides, a great side effect of having fowl, aside from the natural tick pest control, is the regular supply of fresh meat and eggs!
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.