What Do Baby Chickadees Eat?

Chickadees may look tiny, but these birds can pack an unbelievable amount of food. They tend to feed together with their baby chickadees. If there’s a nest visible from your bedroom window, you can entertain yourself for hours as the parent chickadees bring their young ones food at a steady yet continuous pace.

Baby chickadees love eating, a habit that they inherit from their parents. They aren’t too picky when it comes to the food their parents bring them. The question is: What do they like?

black and white bird on brown tree branch

Insects, insects, and more insects. According to A brood of 5 baby chickadees need around 6,000 to 9,000 caterpillars to grow into adults. That’s A LOT!  the chickadee will feed flies, spiders, worms, grasshoppers, and any other insect it can fit in its mouth to its babies. Though they mostly prefer caterpillars, all insects are up for grabs.

Now that you know what baby chickadees prefer to eat, let’s take an in-depth look at the variations on their diet and how they survive:

Diet Variations

Baby chickadees are omnivores. They will eat everything and anything, even if it is not included in their diet. Domestic baby chickadees will also eat rusk crumbs, cookies crumbs, bread, and other human foods. However, we do not recommend giving baby chickadees these foods because they contain many preservatives and unhealthy ingredients for birds.

Hence, chickadees usually feed insects to their young ones. A baby chickadee is around 2 in. to 3 in. long. It has no wings or feathers present when it is born. On average, a baby chickadee weighs 5 grams to 10 grams. Once the baby chickadees leave their nest, they look for a flock to blend in. Here’s what they eat before they can be on their own:


Baby chickadees love seeds. They are particularly fond of hulled sunflower seeds, striped sunflower seeds, and black oil sunflower seeds. They also eat chopped or shelled peanuts. You can also add safflower seeds, millet, cracked corn, and nyjer to feeders.


Baby chickadees have a sweet tooth. Berry bushes are their favorite! They love blueberries, cut grapes, raspberries, strawberries, bilberries, cranberries, and bilberries. They also eat cut pawpaw, pear, orange, and apple.


The list of insects baby chickadees eat is quite long. It includes flies, caterpillars, snails, spiders, grasshoppers, mealworms, moths, earthworms, crickets, and other invertebrates.


Baby chickadees eat both animals and plants. Though, they don’t consume much when it comes to meat. They do it when food is scarce, and even then, they look for dead animal flesh.


Baby chickadees love suet too. Suet refers to the raw fat of beef or lamb. It has a lot of nutrients that keep them energetic and healthy.

Eating Habits of Chickadees

In a domestic setting, avid bird watchers usually hang bird feeders with insects, fruits, and seeds. Unlike other birds, chickadees are not picky. They will eat dry food such as dead insects as well. Once you set up the feeders, chickadees will schedule their visits to the backyard to eat food and carry as much as they can in their mouths. Don’t forget to add a birdbath nearby so that they can lounge in the backyard after eating.

In the wild, chickadees eat whatever they can find. Since they eat what they can grab, they don’t leave any insect if given the opportunity. They are also fly over crop farms for sunflower seeds or any other seeds they can spot. If worst comes to worst, they feed on meat from carcasses. No matter the food type, if it can fit into their mouth, they will carry it to their babies.

Why Do Baby Chickadees Love Caterpillars?

Yes, parent chickadees feed their young ones caterpillars mostly. However, this is not because caterpillars are better tasting or nutritious. It’s all coincidence. The time of year when chickadees are raising their babies happens to be the same time when caterpillars are out before wrapping themselves in cocoons and turning into butterflies. Hence, chickadees can catch these insects and also because they are extremely slow. This makes them an easy catch compared to other insects.

What Other Things Do Baby Chickadees Eat?

We have already talked about how baby chickadees mostly prefer insects, but they also like to eat something sweet from time to time. Baby chickadees are insatiable, which is why their parents need to feed them constantly. They also like seeds and fruits, which they seldom turn to only in winter and fall when there are no insects around. Depending on the season the parents are raising them in, it’s possible that the baby chickadees only get to eat insects when they are all grown up.

How Much Do Baby Chickadees Eat?

A LOT, and by that, we mean more than you can imagine! During the day, parent chickadees keep feeding the babies with a constant stream of food. It takes around 6,000 to 9,000 insects or caterpillars to raise around five chickadees. The appetite of all growing birds is never-ending. Parents feed their young ones from the moment they hatch and even 2 to 4 weeks after the young chickadees leave the nest.

How Are Chickadees Able to Catch So Many Insects?

Chickadees are quite small due to their small body. They are even able to catch insects mid-air. However, mostly they hop on tree branches in search of caterpillars. You might even spot them hanging upside down when they are hunting. Chickadees usually grab multiple insects in their beak to lessen their trips. They keep hunting until they can’t find any insects or run out of room to carry them in their mouth.

What to Feed Baby Chickadees?

Chickadees might abandon their babies if they feel that predators or competitors have disturbed their nest. Usually, chickadees create a nest in the backyard and monitor it well. If you see chickadees in a nest unattended for a long time, you can feed them wet dog food or cat food or mushy cereal mixed with water.


Baby chickadees love all types of insects. They are not too picky about the food they eat, which is why they can also survive on fruits and berries. When food is scarce, chickadees turn to dead animal flesh to feed their young ones.

If you are setting up bird feeders in the backyard for chickadees, fill them with worms, caterpillars, and other insects, as well as sunflower seeds.