So agile and busy.
Bananaquits have a natural diet that consists of more insects than nectar even though their name in Dutch suggests otherwise. They are called Suikerdiefje or Sugar thief in Dutch, aimed towards their taste for refined sugar when it is presented to them in feeding areas.
Don’t get me wrong, in nature these birds adore a sweet snack by sipping or sucking out the nectar of flowers, destroying them to get to the sweet treat. But it is only a high-energy snack to them as the largest part of their diet consists of insects and spiders. And as such, they behave like warblers searching in every hook and crevice for this protein-rich food.
In areas where the birds have unlimited access to refined sugar on feeding tables, the bird gets a very unhealthy addiction to the sugar switching to a diet where the sugar is almost the sole part of the diet. And that is the situation where these birds get unhealthy weights, have problems with their blood sugar, and can develop disfigurements, especially when the chicks are fed with sugar.
Feeding advice: If you want to feed birds in your garden (e.g. in the dry season) and love these little yellow birds please stay clear of feeding refined sugar. Feed them with healthy alternatives like overripe fruit. Bananas, mangoes, watermelon, and even papaya are very welcome alternatives, and even oranges are well-liked. These fruits attract fruit flies, and that is another healthy snack for the birds and will attract some warblers as well. Just make sure the fruit is not moldy. And make sure there is always fresh water in the vicinity, presented on a shallow plate/ water bowl.
Bananaquit – Suikerdiefje – Barika Hel