12 Birds You Want in Your Yard

These Birds Help With Pollination, Pest Control, and More

Chickadee With Grub
John Benson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

While birders may be delighted to see any new bird in their yard, some birds are more welcome than others because of all the good they can do. Whether you are a homeowner, gardener, or farmer with decorative flowerbeds, a small garden, or extensive sprawling acreage, there are many beneficial birds you want in your yard.

  • 01 of 12
    Eastern Bluebird
    Rick from Alabama/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    These colorful thrushes are highly desirable for their beautiful plumage and lilting voices, but they offer another benefit as well when they gobble up insects. Bluebirds are insectivorous and eat beetles, weevils, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and other insects, and attracting bluebirds can help provide amazing natural pest control for your property, without added chemicals or extra costs.

  • 02 of 12
    House Wren
    Jim Hudgins/USFWS/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    The energetic, perky antics of wrens are always fun to watch, and it's even more fun to see them catch all manner of unwanted insects. Because many wrens forage closer to the ground, they will not only control populations of beetles, caterpillars, and grubs, but also happily eat ants and snails as well. Attracting wrens is a great way to minimize these insects in your yard without harsh chemicals.

  • 03 of 12
    Chickadee With Grub
    John Benson/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Chickadees are easy to attract to most yards, and they're voracious insect-eaters. Grubs and caterpillars are special favorites of chickadees, and because these birds have larger broods, the parents will quickly hunt hundreds of caterpillars for their young chicks. One nest usually has 5 to 8 eggs, but nests of up to 10 to 13 eggs are not unheard of, and that's a lot of hungry chicks eating insects!

  • 04 of 12
    White-Breasted Nuthatch
    Sunny/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Tree-creeping nuthatches are wonderful at protecting orchards or landscaping trees, as they forage along the trunk of the tree for moth eggs, ants, beetles, and caterpillars. These birds also readily come to suet feeders or will happily snack on black oil sunflower seed, making them easy to invite as guests in your yard. While there, they'll help control the insect population.

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  • 05 of 12
    Red-Bellied Woodpecker
    debandsid/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    In areas where wood-boring insects are a problem, woodpeckers can be the solution. They will drill into bark in search of beetles, aphids, millipedes, and other insects, and these tenacious birds won't stop until they've sought out every morsel. Attracting woodpeckers can be simple, but homeowners may also want to take steps to keep woodpeckers from pecking where they aren't as welcome.

  • 06 of 12
    Purple Martin at House
    Gary Leavens/Flickr/CC by-SA 2.0

    One of the loveliest swallows, purple martins are also attractive because they feed on aerial insects, including moths, flies, and occasionally mosquitoes. Attracting purple martins can be a challenge because of their specialized needs, however, but other swallows such as barn swallows are easier to attract and also eat more than their share of flying insects.

  • 07 of 12
    Scarlet Tanager
    Always a birder!/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Stinging insects can be a problem in some areas, but colorful tanagers such as the scarlet tanager, summer tanager, and western tanager can all help prevent painful stings. These birds are wasp-eating specialists and have evolved ways to remove dangerous stingers before they eat different insects. These birds are around all summer, just when wasp and hornet populations are at their highest.

  • 08 of 12
    American Goldfinch
    Mary Ellen St. John/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Weeds can be an ongoing problem in the landscape, but beautiful goldfinches can help solve that problem. These seed-loving birds happily eat weed seeds, plucking seeds right off stalks as well as foraging on the ground after fallen seeds. Lesser goldfinches and American goldfinches both eat huge quantities of seeds, and the more of these birds there are in your yard, the fewer weeds you'll have.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Hummingbirds

    Hummingbird at Flower
    Renee/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Hummingbirds are the key to successful pollination and more abundant blooms in flowerbeds, as well as a more productive harvest in the vegetable garden. Opt for flowers that attract hummingbirds in the yard, and these tiny flying jewels will happily feast on natural nectar even as they help pollinate all sorts of delicious and beautiful plants, plus they keep gnat and other small insect populations down.

  • 10 of 12

    Hawks

    Red-Shouldered Hawk
    Pete G/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    It can be startling to see a hawk in the yard, but when these raptors make a meal out of unwanted squirrels, mice, snakes, large insects, or other prey, they can become honored dinner guests. Several types of raptors can become frequent visitors, but it may also be wise to take steps to protect backyard birds from hawks, so other feathered friends aren't in danger from their hunting activities.

  • 11 of 12
    Eastern Screech-Owl
    Shawn Taylor/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Owls are another type of raptor that can be wonderful to have in your yard. Not only will they help control populations of mice, gophers, voles, shrews, and other small rodents, but because they are nocturnal, they are less of a threat to any other birds. Attracting owls is a challenge, but the expert pest control is well worth it. Putting up a barn owl box is a great first step.

  • 12 of 12
    Helmeted Guineafowl

    Park Street Pro/Flickr/CC by 2.0

    Unless your property is in Africa, you won't have wild helmeted guineafowl roaming around, but these are great birds to add to a domestic poultry flock whether you have a small suburban farm, a larger livestock operation, or just rural property. Guineafowl are tick-eating specialists and can help keep these pests under control, making them valuable guests if they're right for your needs.