The Best Birds for Your Garden

Find out how to attract these helpful birds—and why.


how to attract Nighthawks to the gardenNighthawks
They aren’t hawks, but they are insect-eating superheroes that swoop over cities, fields, woodlands, and deserts, sucking up flying ants, flies, leaf chafers, mosquitoes, moths, and grasshoppers. Nighthawks even eat Colorado potato beetles, cucumber beetles, and squash bugs!

Although there isn’t much you can do to attract nighthawks (they don’t build nests), you can be on the lookout for their eggs and be careful not to harm them. Look for one to three whitish olive eggs with dark blotches on sandy soil (sometimes at the base of a shrub), on gravel (especially on rooftops), on a stump, or in an old robin’s nest. Their breeding range extends from the southern Yukon to southern California down to Honduras and Nicaragua.

Photo: (cc) Alan Vernon/Flickr


how to attract Nuthatches to the gardenNuthatches
Hopping headfirst down a tree isn’t just nutty behavior—nuthatches are searching crevices for ants, scale, beetles, moth eggs, caterpillars, and cocoons. Nuthatches feed on seeds and nuts (hence their name) during the cold months, but in summer they’re 100 percent insectivorous. They raise their young exclusively on insects. Three different species of nuthatches are found in various regions of North America.

Also woodland natives, nuthatches are more likely to settle into nesting boxes that are located in clearings in or along the edges of wooded areas. Fill the boxes with wood chips; cover the boxes with strips of bark to make them even more attractive to the birds.

Photo: (cc) Matt MacGillivray/Flickr