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How to Attract Bug-Eating Birds To Your Urban Garden

by Fern on July 26, 2009

in Birds Bees & Butterflies

There are lots of good reasons to welcome birds into your garden, but here’s one more: they eat a whole heck of a lot of bugs! You can easily attract birds that will gladly gobble up beetles, snails, aphids, whitefly, scale, caterpillars, ants, earwigs, and then some. For example, insects make up more than half of Starlings’ diet, and they are probably the deadliest enemy of cutworms and japanese beetles out there.

Photo by JP Stanley

To attract birds to your balcony, roof top, or urban yard, you have to make your garden look attractive to birds. Twiggy shrubs and small trees offer cover to a bird when startled and will make them feel more secure about venturing closer to your garden. I often see Lantana, Bougainvillea and Potato Vines trained into patio trees. All three provide the kind of shrubby protection and perching options birds like.

Birds are also attracted to water for drinking and bathing. You’ll get bonus points from them if that water is moving. Don’t worry, moving water doesn’t require crazy wiring or a call to a landscape contractor. There are plenty of solar powerd fountains and solar powered bird baths now a days.

This might sound counterproductive, since you’re trying to attract birds so that they’ll eat bugs, but putting out a small feeder is another good idea to get the word out that the eating is good at your place. As you’ll notice in the list below, some of the most common birds at urban bird feeders are also great bug eaters. The feeder will entice them in and then the creepy crawlies on your plants will do the rest.

Which Birds Will Eat What?

To show you a bit of what you could get rid of by attracting the right birds, I made a list of common birds seens in urban environments and noted what kind of bugs they like to eat.

  • European Starlings: cutworm, weevils, ground beetles, millipedes, spiders
  • Grackles: beetles, grasshoppers, caterpillars, spiders
  • Killdeers: beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, fly larvae, spiders, worms, snails
  • Orioles: caterpillars, larvae, beetles, grasshoppers
  • Sparrows: beetles, caterpillars, cutworms
  • Swallows: moths, beetles, grasshoppers
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