We all know that birds add beauty and intrigue to our garden; that’s exactly why we add bird feeders and houses to our yards in the first place, but the truth is that the benefits the feathered creatures bring go far beyond aesthetic appeal.
Birds play a great role in preventing insects from eating and destroying the flowers and vegetables we work so hard to plant.
I hope you enjoy this guest article by Ernie Allison:
Chipping Sparrows eating suet at Big Mill. photo by Guy Livesay
Chipping Sparrows (sometimes called Chipper Sparrows) and song sparrows, most commonly found in North America, can be great sights to see in your backyard. They feed on some of the most destructive insects (grasshoppers, beetles, ants, etc.). They also utilize garden weeds for food as well as nesting materials.
Eastern, western, and mountain blue birds, also found in North America, are a species that many birders intentionally try to get into their yard. Aside from their striking color and patterns, and their beautiful voices, their insectivorous diet makes it hard for any pests to destroy your vegetation. Studies have shown that gardens and vineyards have had a significant drop in insect and larvae populations when bluebirds were frequent visitors.
Wrens are another backyard helper, and the good news is that they’re found in the majority of the United States. Although they can be an aggressive species (you might want to avoid attracting other species of birds at the same time), their diet is composed almost entirely of insects (worms, moths, spiders) and they eat frequently, especially during the seasons when they’re tending to their young.
Robins are another friendly species to spot. While they do eat some berries and beneficial insects, their feeding habits are mostly composed of worms, mosquitoes, spiders, grasshoppers, termites, and crickets. They do much more good than harm, and most birders love them for their sweet and cheerful songs as well as their curious personality.
Woodpeckers get their name from eating wood dwelling insects, but they also focus on common garden pests, including the winged ones. Flies, grasshoppers, ants, mosquitoes, spiders, and wasps are a few of the woodpecker’s favorite meals, so they tend to do sturdy job of keeping pest population to a minimum.
Unfortunately, not all yards are as enticing to birds as others, so make sure you’re doing your part in making yours a place they’ll want to land.
- Always have a source of water available (bird baths are the easiest way to go)
- Birds are happy to find food and shelter, so placing bird houses and bird feeders in your yard will give you an advantage.
- Supply plenty of nesting materials.
- Research what kind of nesting habits the bird you’re trying to attract has; some prefer man-made houses while others prefer trees and natural resources.
- Offer a variety of plants, trees, and shrubs for your birds to pick at and land on.
Birds can be a great ally in helping to protecting your garden from harmful bugs in an organic, pesticide-free way. Different types of birds have different preferences, so make sure you’re accommodating your desired species’ individual needs. If you can do that, you’ll fill your garden with gorgeous wildlife as well as help your hard yard work survive the attack of vermin.
We appreciate this great guest article by Ernie Allison. Ernie is a freelance writer who enjoys appreciating nature with his grandchildren. He currently writes about how fellow birders can enhance their skills and observations.
And many thanks to friend Guy Livesay for the photos of the bluebird and chipping sparrow
We make breakfast for our Bird friends here at Big Mill Bed & Breakfast. Try our suet recipe of granola and fruit.
Big Mill Bed & Breakfast — 252-792-8787
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