Insects are a rich source of protein for garden birds and their young. Keeping up insect populations in your garden will attract lots of familiar garden birds and summer migrants. Insect loving birds include Wrens, Robins, Woodpeckers and seasonal visitors like Barn Swallows. Having them around is also beneficial to your garden. Attracting them is simple with a few steps.
Insect-eating residents have been on the decline and they are no longer in huge abundances in the UK. We still have smaller birds like Wrens that are able to cope, but Wrens are often found in more milder areas of the country because they are susceptible to the cold weather.
Why attract and support these birds
Not only are they fantastic birds and having more birds in your garden is brilliant for your own health and wellbeing, they need it too. Insect-eating birds have problems finding food for all types of reasons, that are brought on by man intervention.
Urbanization is one of these threats. Insect-eating birds often find it difficult to find enough food in built-up areas. There is a lack of suitable vegetation which means the insect prey they are after tend to be relatively scarce. Vehicles and the pollution they bring can also lower the numbers on insects in these areas too.
Pesticides are another contributor to the problem. They are being increasingly used in urban environments, including people’s gardens and in rural settings. It means that insects are not becoming more scarce. The insects that survive carry the trace of these poisons and this can build up in the bodies of insect-eating birds. Therefore it is doubly important to not use chemical pesticides in your gardens, use things like Coffee Grounds, Egg Shells and soapy water (using soap that is chemical free and not harmful to wildlife).
There is also a positive impact for us too. Insect-eating birds help lower the numbers of pests for us, and summer migrants really help to keep down the numbers that naturally rise in the warmer months. It means that our garden birds become natural pest controls for us and when we work alongside that rather than chemicals it can make a big difference for everyone.
How to offer up more insects
Not necessarily on a plate. There are a few things you can do:
- Adding flowers, shrubs and trees to your garden will attract insects. Flowers will also support butterfly and bee wildlife in the garden which is fantastic for the planet as a whole.
- Creating an insect hotel is also a great idea. You can do this fairly easily and it will help to support life in the garden.
- Creating wildflower meadows are a great way to support insects
- Leaving areas covered with sheets and allowing a build up of bugs like slugs etc. just pull the sheets back every so often like a bird buffett
- Leave piles of logs and wood to rot down to create natural homes for insects.
Adding plants — what should I choose
I touched on this a bit in my building a bird border blog, there are lots of flowers that will attract wildlife to your garden including insects that birds will love.
Lavender is a fantastic plant for attracting insects such as bees and butterflies. They will flock to the flowers in search of nectar and will become food for your birds.
Other great flowers include things like Evening Primrose, Lemon Balm, Tansy, Wild Angelic, Forget-me-nots and wild carrot. All will attract insects to them and they will also create a good place for smaller birds like wrens to shelter whilst finding food.
Having allotments and vegetable patches in the garden is also a great idea. Not only will your digging bring up insects like worms, ants and slugs for the birds to eat. The vegetables themselves will attract some little creatures, let the birds help you out and keep them pest free!
Insects are a lot more abundant in the summer months and so it is not such a problem for the birds, although some of the threats we have covered still make it harder than in previous times. Birds need insects throughout the year though, so adding supplements such as mealworms to your feeders or choosing a mix that has mealworms in is a great idea.
Particularly during the Spring having insects available can be useful for parent birds and their fledglings. If you are adding them during fledgling season don’t forget to give them a little soak before adding them to the feeders.