Insect bird food is a most important food source. Insects are high in protein and are found in every wild bird habitat from the tops of lofty trees to beneath ground level. Ninety percent of bird species eat insects at some point, even those that are primarily seed or fruit eaters. And most birds feed insects to their nestlings providing much needed protein for growth.
There are two ways to serve insects in your habitat - from feeders or from within the natural setting of the plant life in your yard.
While nearly all birds eat some insects at least some of the time, other birds are primarily insectivores. Even in the dead of winter in cold climates, there are some insects and insect larvae available. When their preferred insect nourishment is not available, even insectivore wild birds will adjust their diets to include seed and suet.
Attract insectivorous birds with wax worms or mealworms in dish feeders placed where you can view them. These are especially prized by Bluebirds but enjoyed by many species that come to backyard feeders.
Don't forget insect suet cakes providing both fat and protein.
Increase insect bird food in your yard. Most insects are generally not those that are troublesome to humans.
Plant native species.
Be aware of non-native species. Plants native to your region are best to support native insect life and native birds. Insects are highly selective and most feed only on a specific or closely related plant.
Birds move to locations where they will find the insects they prefer.
Plant or replace plantings in your yard with local native plants.
Plan a messy garden.
Don't be too quick to deadhead flowers, remove deadwood, rake up the leaves. This can have the unintended consequence of removing seeds such cleaning up of yards also cleans up and away the insects that feed or overwinter on and in what we see as dead debris and what birds see as a source of needed food. To the degree that you can, delay cleaning up your garden until spring and in habitats were you are able, leave that dead tree snag for food and nesting sites.
Chemicals! Applied to lawns, insecticides can drive insects and worms deeper into the soil. They not only rob birds of the insects on which they and their young feed, but also can be a direct threat to the health and survival of the wild birds. Birds may eat insecticide granules or the insects that eat the poison. They may feed them to their hungry young. Insecticides that are non-toxic to birds are a better choice as they will not harm the birds directly. But they will still work to eliminate the bird food source.
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