As all parents know, growing bodies are hungry. For adult birds, seeds and berries are great food sources, but the meal required by 96 per cent of baby birds are insects, spiders and caterpillars.
The expression, eat like a bird implies that birds don’t eat a lot but that’s inaccurate. For example, pairs of Carolina chickadees feed their young nestlings over 9,000 caterpillars in just 16 days. That’s between 350-570 caterpillars per day!
Birds that are looking for caterpillars will search for plants that caterpillars eat. Research shows that native plants support more caterpillars. This is partly because caterpillars can be picky eaters and only feed on specific types of plants. Their preferred food is often right there in their name like pink striped oakworms eat oak, and rosy maple moths eat maple.
Planting native trees, shrubs, flowers and grasses are your best bang for your buck when it comes to providing food sources and habitat for wildlife. By planting a native white oak tree in your backyard, you can provide a food source for almost 500 animals ranging from caterpillars to squirrels. By contrast, the non-native, invasive Norway maple only feeds two species.
On a larger scale, landowners with large properties can also restore forests, meadows and wetlands to create vibrant and healthy ecosystems that provide food, shelter and space for a diversity of birds and other wildlife.
On March 24, CVC will be hosting a Tree Planting and Habitat Restoration Services Showcase. This is a great opportunity for landowners with at least two acres of land to hear about our services and speak with our experts on how we can help you create a healthy wildlife habitat on your property. Our services include project planning, funding, installation and ongoing technical assistance. Register here to learn more.
Photo Credit: Adam C. Smith