Young Birds or Fledglings Need Insects To Survive

Containing twice the protein of beef, insects are the difference between life and death for most birds. There are 35 times as many caterpillar species on native trees as exotic trees. Oaks have 534 species of caterpillars that live on them. Black cherry supports 456 species. Even goldenrods and asters support 115 species.

Ninety six percent of our birds eat insects, of which very few can be found in the lawn environment. With 40 million acres of lawn in the United States, simply planting half of this to native plants would create wildlife habitat the size of four New Jerseys. This would reverse the steep decline of our bird species and of course take a lot of carbon out of the air.

Just stand under a gumbo limbo tree in May to witness how attractive this native is to our wildlife. It is humming with pollinators visiting the flowers and flashing with birds eating some of those insects and the few remaining fruits. As soon as the flowering is complete, the tree will leaf out; so don’t waste water trying to hurry the process.

Although the migrating birds are up north breeding, the young of local birds are just fledging in May. Wood ducks, coopers hawks, various woodpeckers, cardinals, blue jays, screech owls, great crested fly catchers and other fledglings can be seen begging their parents for food or being watched over as they learn to forage for themselves.

Read the book Bringing Nature Home by Doug Tallamy, Timber Press to learn what you can do for wildlife.

With all of the nature programs dwelling on how we are losing wildlife, it is great to know that there is something that you personally can do to help. It is fun to see birds and insects return to your yard and to know that you had something to do with it. Next time you see “bugs” on your plants, you may find yourself feeling pride instead of dread and even spend a few minutes observing them. Maybe a bird will snatch one up and bring it to her fledglings.