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Mon Apr 25, 2016, 09:47 PM

Garden Patrol: Ten Birds That Help Control Garden Pests


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http://enature.com/articles/detail.asp?storyID=627&utm_source=eNature+Master+List&utm_campaign=820188948e-On_the_Wild_Side_2016_Earth_Day4_22_2016&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_fdc5c25bf0-820188948e-58235496


By Sarah Boyle

Read this article and more in the NWF National Wildlife Magazine: http://www.nwf.org/Home/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife.aspx?articleId=511&issueId=43&passthrough=homepagePromo

AS A GARDENER, it can be your worst nightmare: watching helplessly as hordes of destructive insects attack your plants. With a little planning and simple landscaping, however, you can help moderate garden pests naturally in your yard. Your weapon: bug-eating birds. "During the late spring and summer months, insects make up the great majority of many avian species' diets," says NWF Chief Naturalist Craig Tufts. The trick to enticing these birds to your property, he notes, is to first learn which of them range in your area, and then to plant appropriate types of native cover that provide insect- and bird-attracting natural foods--leaves, fruit, pollen and nectar--to sustain both adults and their insect-dependent nestlings. Tina Phillips, project leader of Cornell Lab of Ornithology's Bird House Network, adds, "The most important thing to do to attract birds to your yard is to provide an enticing habitat, not just a nest box. Birds choose a nest site based on its surrounding habitat."

Along with native vegetation, offer birds a water source and a few different nesting sites: brush piles, ledges, nest boxes, shrubs and various types of trees--including dead tree limbs and trunks. "As long as they don't create a safety hazard for people, dead trees provide nesting areas and are a great food source for insectivores," says Tufts.

Needless to say, birds will not completely rid your yard of insects, and even if they could, you wouldn't want them to do so. Some insects are imperative for a healthy garden, and birds do not discriminate between destructive and beneficial bugs. But they can help keep insect populations in your neighborhood at a stable, balanced level, benefiting both you and your neighbors. Subsequently, you'll have a nicer garden to show for it throughout the summer.

Which bug-eating birds are the best ones to attract to your yard? There's no simple answer. Scientists cannot say for sure how many insects a certain bird will eat in a summer day. But depending on where you live, the following ten species can be valuable allies in your efforts to sustain a vibrant garden:

The list is at the link. We have one year round and one for a couple months a year.

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