Feeding Insectivores

Insectivore species include Magpies, Ravens, Kookaburras, Swallows, Blackbirds, Sparrows, and Starlings

Also see:

Insectivore's Natural Foods

Ground Insects – Termites, Beetles, Ants. Winged Insects – Mosquitoes, Flies, Moths, Foliage Insects – Scale, Bugs, Aphids, Insect Larvae, Spiders, Caterpillars, Crickets & Worms.

All these birds eat insects and bugs which contain meat (protein), cereal and grain extracts (carbohydrates) and other minerals. Some will eat mice and small animals/reptiles or pick at animal carcasses.

The ratio 60% protein, 40% carbohydrate is a good balance for their diet.

It is essential that we get the birds eating their natural foods, so don’t forget to give them insects, bugs, and chopped up mice as well.

Food in captivity

Foods 1

A simple and effective food for a magpie, is Pedigree Puppy kibble soaked in cold water for about 1 – 2 hours. The kibble is made from rice and contains vitamins and protein which have been found to be effective in raising birds.

Foods 2

A special magpie mix can be made from ½ cup of lean mincemeat (no preservatives), 4 teaspoons of Insectivore mix, 4 teaspoons of rice cereal, 2 teaspoons of bread crumbs. Mix a little water to make a thick paste which can be rolled up into a pellet about 2 – 2.5cm long and 1 cm in diameter. About ¼ teaspoon of calcium powder should be added for bone and beak development.

Foods 3

  • 1kg Minced Chicken Frames
  • 2 Eggs (scrambled)
  • 2 Weetbix
  • 70gms Wombaroo Insectivore Mix
  • 1/2 Cup Rice Cereal (optional)
  • 1 Cup Grated Cheese
  • Add water if mix is too dry.

Special note... Some birds such as magpies, crows, hawks and owls, cannot digest everything they eat. As a result the birds cough up a "cast" of beetle legs, wings, mouse fur and bones which looks like a black pellet made up of all these bits and pieces.

Murray Magpies

The same foods apply for the Magpie Lark and ½ cup apple puree may be added to the mixture for moisture content.


Swallows are very temperamental birds to hand rear in captivity. A high death rate is common.

These birds should only be reared by carers that are home all day and can supply regular feeds. Swallows need to be fed every 10-15 minutes from sun up to sun down.

Swallows are insectivores and should be fed a diet consisting of fresh insects such as crickets and meal worms with heads removed. Swallows thrive on a wide variety of insects - any moths, flies or aphids you can find may also be offered (no earth worms or maggots). Thin strips of ox heart generously coated with wombaroo insectivore can also be used to supplement the insects.  

Offer extra water at each feed using an eyedropper. Swallows need lots of fluid or they become constipated.

When swallows come in to care and are weak offer glucose and water dribbled over the beak. Then start adding the above ingredients to the glucose and water, as the bird becomes more active.




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