Attracting birds to your yards and garden is a wonderful experience. They are beautiful, entertaining, and sing lovely songs. In addition, birds eat a wide variety of insects. In fact, birds can eat some of the most damaging garden pests!
Some of the most challenging garden insects to catch are cabbage worms, grasshoppers, whiteflies, aphids, moths, stinkbugs, earwigs, cucumber beetles, and grubs, which are consumed by insect eating birds.
You can learn about the birds that eat pests in this guide, as well as how to attract some of them to your garden.
13 Good Bug-Hunting Birds
Bird species that eat insects and are found in the U.S. are listed below. You likely already have some of these in your yard, so all you need to do is encourage more.
Look around your neighborhood and see what birds you do have and create nesting spots near your garden if you don’t usually see any of these birds around. One never knows which birds will prove to be valuable contributors!
Birds like bluebirds hunt insects to a high level of perfection. You may have the eastern, western, or mountain bluebirds where you live. Bluebirds share an affinity with their colorful cousin – the robin.
Your location may also determine whether they stay in your area all year round or whether they only come during the warmer months.
All of these birds are beautiful and voracious eaters. It is well worth attracting them to your garden and letting them set up a home.
In addition to grasshoppers and crickets, they feed on beetles, larvae, and moths which cause damage to gardens.
In the summer, they also like elderberries and sumac berries. If you want to lure them to your garden, put mealworms in a nearby feeder. Just beware that the European starling might raid their nest and you’ll need to exterminate it.
Bluebirds are attracted to open fields with tall mature trees and have specific housing needs. Building a bluebird house is an ideal project for a family or a teenager.
The red birds remain in winter for a whole year, adding a lovely touch to a desert landscape. Cardinals prefer to eat seeds and fruit, but they also enjoy cracked corn in winter.
However, in the spring, the young of these species are fed lots of insects. The babies eat larger insects, such as beetles, grasshoppers, leafhoppers, stinkbugs, and snails.
Cardinals like to nest in fruit trees and bushes for protection. I had several pairs in my orchard last year. I hope they ate the plum curio larvae and leftover chicken grains.
A thick canopy of evergreen trees also protects them from predators in the winter. Cardinals nest in shrub thickets instead of birdhouses, but you can help them out by planting their favorite trees or providing nesting materials.
These martin-like birds are related to barn swallows and hunt small insects in gardens. Typically, they eat large flies, grasshoppers, moths, beetles, and dragonflies. Occasionally, they will also eat wasps.
It is possible that you have heard of the martin apartment complex. Purple martins prefer to nest high but out in the open.
According to Cornell University, purple martin population is declining in many areas of the country. Therefore, encouraging them to feed in your garden is a win-win.
Purple martins require a specialized habitat. You can buy one or download instructions to make your own.
In order to maintain the houses, they should be mounted on a pole at least fifteen feet high. They should face south or southwest.
Both the red-breasted and white-breasted nuthatch consume insects in the spring, feeding them to their young. You may have heard their familiar yank-yank call, which sounds like a car honk.
It is beneficial to have them in orchards because they consume many kinds of insects including borers and caterpillars. Other things they eat include ants, caterpillars, and earwigs.
Their aggressive nature could make them chase off other cavity-dwelling birds and steal their nesting spot.
A fun fact about the red-breasted nuthatch is that it builds cavity nests using tree resin as glue.
We often think of orioles as fruit eaters, of which we make birdfeeders out of oranges. They live in the eastern and central United States.
During the fall and winter, orioles prefer to eat fruit. However, during the spring, they eat more insects.
Insect larvae, moths, flies, grasshoppers, caterpillars, beetles, and flies are their favorite bugs.
Poplars, cottonwoods, willows, and mulberries are all favorite trees of Orioles. Since they consume fruit, they also bite the mulberries, elderberries, brambles, cherries, ash, and hazelnuts.
A typical oriole nest looks like a sock made of fibers the birds found in the wild. Hanging nests can be purchased to attract orioles to your yard.
The titmouse family includes several species living in North America. These small birds feed on insects and seeds.
Their eyesight is keen and they devour pests such as aphids, leafhoppers, caterpillars, and beetles.
This bird overwinters in many parts of the country and can be encouraged to hang around by providing sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts, and other seeds such as millet. A pole near mature trees is used to mount nest boxes occupied by the birds.
An interesting fact: Bridled titmice that live in the southwest often have extended family members help raise the young.
Brown wrens might be missed easily if you’re not watching for them. Their drab color makes them seem less noticeable and protects them in the winter.
The wren, also known as the Kingbird, is a fantastic bug hunter and eats weed plants’ seeds. Found throughout the U.S., it has a distinct call that Cornell University calls effervescent.
In winter, you can keep them happy with peanut butter on pine cones and suet cakes. Beetles, caterpillars, grubs, snails, and ants are their favorite food.
Typically found in urban areas, Wrens will nest in small openings found in your garage or on your back porch, although they aren’t particular about the type of birdhouse. However, they typically need an opening of 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches.
Keep predators at bay by installing a guard. Wrens can also hide in brush piles nearby.
Female Wrens are often attracted to multiple nests set up by male wrens, after which they choose the “right one”.
The chickadee’s seeming insatiable appetite for insects, worms, and caterpillars means you’ll have many birds around to eat your garden pests. As adults, each chickadee has up to 8 chicks.
There are different kinds of chickadees, but you can usually draw them to your yard by placing a bird box or leaving old stumps in place, since they love to nest in the cavities.
The woodpecker can be a blessing and a curse. They may peck holes into your wood where they don’t want to, but they are also excellent at eliminating insects, such as beetles and aphids.
Since they stay in the same spot all year, they can provide assistance in the winter as well.
There are several different varieties that you can put to work in your garden, but they all need a little shelter, easy access to water, and a nesting spot in a cavity or bird house.
In addition to eating all manner of insects, tanagers are rare in that they can remove the stingers of wasps and hornets before eating them.
Some wasps, in particular parasitic wasps, are nice to have around, whereas others pose a major problem. Tanagers can be a great alternative to wasps, as they have much fewer stings as you are working in the garden.
A house sparrow prefers to live close to humans and hunts in the early morning and evening, though they won’t pass up the chance to nab a french fry off your plate at anytime.
Insects are a favorite food of sparrow chicks, so their laying schedule times to coincide with bug activity. That means they will be out there consuming pests just when you need them.
House and Purple Finches
The purple finches eat beetles, pithy caterpillars, cucumber beetles, flea beetles, leafhoppers, and leafminers. House finches eat aphids, beetles, and caterpillars. It appears that this bird eats most of the garden pests.
Aphids, mites, and mosquitoes are among the insects that hummingbirds eat. You get a double-edged benefit from these beautiful little flying jewels because they pollinate your garden in addition to eating nectar.
How to Attract Bug-Loving Birds
Inviting birds to the garden is a win-win situation: they will reduce pest populations without chemicals in a natural way.
In addition to food, water, and shelter, birds also need a comfortable habitat. By providing these things, you can maintain a bird-friendly environment.
A water feature is common to many species of birds, but they have different housing requirements, and birds are generally quite particular about the design and comfort of their homes.
The Right Food
Although you want your birds to consume all the pests in your garden, many birds eat many different items. This is why feeding birds with nuts and seeds attracts birds that eat bugs.
A bird’s diet is often determined by the season. They may eat bugs more in the spring when the insects emerge from the soil, berries in summer, and seeds in fall when flowers turn into seeds. Many nesting birds feed insects to their babies.
In addition to drinking water, birds need water to bathe. Installing a birdbath in your garden is a good idea. That way, the birds won’t have to travel far if they require a drink. Birds also like to congregate and party.
Stock tanks and farm ponds are not a good choice for bird waterers. A low, wide basin that holds one to two inches of water is ideal. Many birds favor flowing water such as shallow creeks. Bubblers can make a bird waterer more attractive to birds.
It is useful in the winter because it keeps the birdbath warm and ensures the birds have access to fresh water.
Give Them Shelter
Nesting sites for birds vary depending on their preferences. Some birds prefer tall trees, others prefer shrubs.
These creatures seek shelter from the sun or danger in order to obtain protection. They could need to hide from a predator or escape from a hot environment.
A lot of shelter can already be found in your landscape. Trees and bushes are the most popular. However, a wooden fence post, a shed, or an electric wire can also provide shelter.
Keep Your Cats Indoors
It would be remiss to not mention cats when talking about attracting birds so that they can help eat pests. If you want to have a healthy bird population, you must keep your cats indoors.
Cats are natural predators and are not at fault for wanting to take that pretty little finch. However, most house cats do not need to hunt for their next meal.
There has also been a decline in songbird populations in many areas, in part due to the growth of cat populations.
The ratio between cats and birds has tipped too far in favor of cats because we protect and provide safe spaces for them.
Cats are comfortable outside in enclosures, so why keep them inside? These outdoor enclosures are safe and help to keep the birds safe.