Dandelion Flower, Worms and Grubs

Your lawn is like a hometown café for birds, with dandelion flower, worms, grubs and bugs on the menu. Even without bird feeders installed, if you maintain a mown lawn with shrubs and trees close by for safety's sake, birds will come to your lawn to harvest their favorite tidbits.

Every spring, Mr. Robin Redbreast makes his appearance on my front lawn. I love his little hop, hop, hop as he scavenges his chosen area of the lawn for earthworms. Soon others join him and I can count robins everywhere hopping, peeking and pulling worms. Brown Thrashers, Bobwhites, Catbirds, and Cuckoos also dine on worms. Many birds also eat grasshoppers. Kinglets, Flycatchers, Blackbirds and Vireos eat treehoppers.

American Goldfincheslook like part of the patches of dandelions they love to eat. Indigo Buntings love dandelion seeds also, and sighting one bright blue Indigo Bunting is worth any number of dandelions to me.

Maybe I'm strange, but I do love dandelions anyway, and I would like them even if they didn't attract the birds I like to watch. Tiny purple finches the color of plum juice, house finches, white-crowned and white-throated sparrows will come for dandelion seeds too.

Meadowlarksare a decreasing American species. The Horned Lark is even harder to find because they don't do well in the growing suburbs. They need prairie and plenty of grasses. A patch of wildflowers and longer grass will make them brave enough to come near. Still, they won't usually come to feeders at all. Some inclement weather will entice them to feed on birdseed put out on the ground.

Meadowlarks stalk through tall grass and weeds searching for grasshoppers, weevils, cutworms and crickets to munch. Flickers, Starlings, Killdeers and Grackles hunt for worms and grubs. Starlings love June and Japanese beetle larvae, and you can often see where they have punched their beaks into the ground to pull the larvae from their tunnels.

Grackles are beautifulbig birds with iridescent colors in the black wing and tail feathers. They will eat thousands of grubs, armyworms, flies, beetles and grasshoppers as well as snakes, salamanders, snails, and frogs.

Purple martins feast on the mosquitoes that cross open spaces. Barn Swallows swoop and Common Nighthawks sweep here and there gathering bugs in their large mouths. My back window gives me a view of the back pasture where I can watch hawks, nighthawks, and owls dive after field mice and other snacks on cloudy days or in the evening as light is dimming.

Flycatchers, Kingbirds and Tanagers will eat bees and wasps. Wrens, Chickadees and woodpeckers, Wood Thrushes and swallows eat ants. Flycatchers, swallows, Gnatcatchers and martins clean up on flies, gnats and midges. Birds in your yard help cut down on the insect pests that can spoil your flower beds or your backyard vegetable garden.

Spiders, centipedes, crickets, sow bugs, ants and aphids also are good protein foods that birds can find free for the taking on your front lawn. Add a feeder and a bird bath and your yard will attract plenty of songbirds for you to enjoy.

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