Brood X Cicadas have not-so-graciously made their appearance all over Fairfax County. The good news for us at Diva Crows is that they are great food for the birds. We humans might be super annoyed at their endless mating calls, exoskeletons scattered around our lawns, or grossed out by how they land on us, staring with their blood red eyes. But birds are having the time of their lives getting unlimited snacks. Cicadas seem to be on every square inch of Fairfax County right now, but in just a couple of weeks they will be gone. Brood X cicadas stay in the ground for 17 years sucking nutrients out of nearby soil and tree roots. They only come out for a couple of weeks to mate, lay eggs, and become another animal’s food. The birds at Diva Crows, both rehab and education, are happy to help with the last part.

 Blue Jay, Admiral Ackbar, eating a cicada

We get that cicadas are annoying and creepy but some people are using pesticides to get rid of them. This is a very bad idea for several reasons. Pesticides may poison cicadas, but then they will also poison any animal that eats the cicada, especially birds. It is heart-wrenching to watch a bird die from chemical poisoning, as they have seizures as the toxins attack their nervous systems. Pesticides damage the environment by contaminating land, air, and waters and harming all animals, including humans, in the process. Finally, there are millions of cicadas out there but they will be gone in a few weeks. Spraying is not going to get rid of them — Mother Nature will take care of that much more safely and effectively.

Eastern King Bird eating a cicada

Cicadas are large insects but the birds at our rehabilitation center don’t seem to care. We have an Eastern Kingbird who will gobble down a bug almost as big as she is. Our Yellow-Billed Cuckoo is also a great fan, welcoming a change in diet from mealworms. Our Crow-in-Charge Aurora eats cicadas like the rest of us snack on potato chips. Like everywhere else in Northern Virginia, there is a constant hum in the background from the male cicadas attempting to find a mate with their clicking sound. This noise makes it easier for birds to find them and eat them. On the other hand, cicada noise can get so loud that it can drown out the sound of bird calls, disrupting their communication about predators, territorial boundaries, and other important avian issues.  The next time we will see Brood X will be in 2038, and we give them a welcomed farewell until then. 

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo eating a cicada