At the Bird Center of Michigan, we pride ourselves on giving our birds nutritious diets that consist of a variety of seeds, fruits, salads, and insects. A healthy diet ensures that the injured and orphaned birds in our care can put more energy into getting healthy and release-ready. One of the most important foods that we have at the Bird Center are live mealworms.  

Mealworms are a staple in the diet of the insect-eating patients here at the clinic. During the busy season, the birds can go through over 100,000 mealworms in a single week! As you can imagine, this high demand for mealworms is one of the Bird Center’s largest expenses. A single weekly shipment of mealworms can cost upwards of $1,000!  

There are several reasons why mealworms are an important addition to the diet of the omnivorous birds in our care. Mealworms supply healthy amounts of protein, fat, and fiber to both injured and young birds, as well as promoting natural foraging behaviors. For a young bird, there is nothing more interesting than a worm wriggling at their feet ready to be gobbled up! 

We purchase our mealworms from Rainbow Mealworms. By donating a Rainbow Mealworms gift certificate to the Bird Center of Michigan, you can personally help feed the birds at our clinic! If you’d like to purchase a gift certificate for us, click the “Gift Certificates” link at the top of their website, and enter [email protected] as the “Recipient’s Email.” Any amount helps us greatly! We appreciate your support!

In-House Mealworm Project

This winter, the staff at the Bird Center has been trying to come up with a solution for our constant need for mealworms. We found ourselves asking, “Why not breed mealworms ourselves?” This question led to hours of research, preparation, and dedication to begin our own mealworm breeding colony! With the help of staff, interns, and volunteers, our goal is to create an extra supply of mealworms that will supplement us during shortages in the busy summer season. The beetles, which are the adult mealworm, also make for a great snack for birds! 

The life cycle of the mealworm is a lot more involved than most people would think! Did you know that mealworms are the larvae stage of a beetle? This animal essentially lives 3 different lives! One as a worm, another as a vulnerable pupa, and finally as an adult beetle. These small black beetles lay eggs, which after about 2 weeks hatch into tiny mealworms! Between cleaning, feeding, and organizing, managing a healthy colony can be a lot of work! Mealworm breeding takes time, patience, and a love for creepy crawlies!  

Our clinic co-manager Grace began this project for the Bird Center in hopes of eventually cutting insect costs and making a more available supply of worms. “I really enjoy taking care of these insects every day. I know that the better care I give the worms and beetles, the more nutritious they will be for the birds in our care!”  `