What Birds Eat Flies? (Species and How to Attract Them)

Flies are an essential part of the ecosystem, and many bird species have evolved to consume them as a primary food source. Birds like swallows, woodpeckers, and kinglets are specially adapted to find and feed on flies and other small insects. Their diet and feeding behavior nourishes them, as well as helps control the fly population in various habitats.

Birds that eat flies can be found across a diverse range of environments, including gardens, forests, wetlands, and meadows. They play a critical role in maintaining the balance in ecosystems and attracting these fly-eating birds to your backyard can aid in natural pest control. However, it is vital to be mindful of their conservation and the potential threats they face to preserve their natural habitats.

Key Takeaways

  • There are several bird species known for their fly-eating habits, including swallows, woodpeckers, and kinglets.
  • These birds inhabit various ecosystems, contributing to the balance and health of natural environments.
  • Attracting fly-eating birds to your garden can provide natural pest control, while also supporting their conservation efforts.

Bird Species That Eat Flies


Swallows, a family of birds that includes species like the Barn Swallow and the Tree Swallow, are skilled aerial hunters and avid fly eaters. They are commonly found throughout North America, including California and Arizona. Swallows tend to swoop through the air with great speed and agility, making it easy for them to capture flies and other insects mid-flight.

Read Next: Which Birds Eat Lanternflies?


Flycatchers, such as the Eastern Kingbird and the Olive-sided Flycatcher, are another group of birds that have a strong preference for flies in their diet. They are typically found in wooded areas and gardens. These birds employ a “wait and swoop” strategy, where they perch on a branch and watch for insects, swooping down on them when they get close enough.


Wrens, like the Carolina Wren, are small, sprightly birds that can often be found throughout the eastern United States. Although considered insectivorous, they predominantly feed on insects like beetles, caterpillars, and grasshoppers. However, their diet also includes some flies, particularly when other insects are scarce.


Warblers, a vibrant group of birds known for their beautiful songs, also feast on flies. While they primarily eat caterpillars, flies and other small insects make up a significant part of their diet. As for bluebirds, their main diet consists of insects, including flies, beetles, and moths.


Hummingbirds are often thought to only feed on nectar, but they are also known to consume insects on occasion. Flies are among the insects that can be found in their varied diet. Purple Martins, a type of swallow, are reputed fly-catchers, capturing large quantities of insects, including flies, during their aerial acrobatic displays.

Other Bird Species

Sparrows, swifts, cardinals, orioles, titmice, and robins are other bird species that are known to include flies in their diet. These birds typically feed on a wide variety of insects, and flies serve as an important part of their overall sustenance. Among these, the American Kestrel is a small falcon that feeds on insects such as flies, as well as other small prey like rodents and birds.

Lastly, birds like the Waxwings, White-breasted Nuthatch, House Finch, and Chickens may also consume flies as part of their diet. While they are not as specialized in catching flies as some of the other bird species mentioned, they opportunely eat insects, including flies, as part of their diverse diet. So, whether you live in California, Arizona, or anywhere else across the country, it’s not uncommon to spot some of these fly-eating birds in action in your backyard or local park.

Attracting Fly-Eating Birds

Attracting fly-eating birds to your yard or garden is an environmentally friendly and effective way to reduce the presence of flies while enjoying the beauty and benefits of these natural predators. To attract these helpful birds, such as catbirds and vireos, follow some simple steps:

  • First, provide a source of food that these insectivorous birds will find appealing. While bird feeders filled with seeds may be more attractive to seed-eating birds, small, shallow dishes or specialized insect feeders containing mealworms or other insect larvae can be a great way to invite fly-eating birds to your backyard.
  • A crucial aspect of making your yard or garden more welcoming to birds is providing a source of water. Birdbaths or shallow dishes filled with clean water not only quench their thirst but also help them to groom and clean themselves. Make sure to change the water regularly to avoid mosquito breeding and keep the birds healthy.
  • Enhance the habitat with native plants and trees from your region, as they often provide birds with nesting materials and a haven for rest. Ensure the garden is pesticide-free since these chemicals can harm both the birds and the insects they feed on.
  • In addition, providing nesting options specifically targeted to the bird species you wish to attract makes your garden more appealing. Different birds prefer different types of nesting boxes, so do some research to determine which type is suitable for the species you want to attract.
  • Lastly, practice responsible pet ownership. Keep cats indoors or supervised when outdoors, as they can pose threats to birds and their nests.

By following these simple steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a yard or garden that not only welcomes fly-eating birds like catbirds and vireos but also supports a healthier, more balanced ecosystem.

Diet and Feeding Behavior

Birds have a diverse range of dietary habits, with many species specializing in specific types of food. Insects, particularly flies, are a common food source for many avian predators. Insectivorous songbirds are known for their ability to catch flying insects in mid-air using their beaks.

Among the flying insects that birds consume are beetles, moths, mosquitoes, aphids, and grasshoppers. Swifts, for example, have a diet consisting of dragonflies, flies, flying ants, and beetles. These agile birds hunt for insects while flying and can easily snatch their prey in mid-air.

Other birds prefer to feed on crawling insects like caterpillars, grubs, ticks, and horseflies. These birds search for their food under leaves, on tree trunks, and the ground. Mealworms are another insect that some birds enjoy and can often be found in bird feeders alongside suet cakes, both of which act as a supplemental food source for them.

Alongside insects, some birds also consume a variety of plant-based foods, such as berries and nectar. These birds have developed particular adaptations to extract nectar from flowers or efficiently consume small fruits.

Tree swallows, a common sight in many areas, display unique feeding habits. They are known to consume a high number of flying insects while also incorporating some berries into their diets. This combination of food sources provides them with a balanced diet, ensuring they get all the necessary nutrients.

Habitat and Nesting

When it comes to habitats and nesting locations for birds that eat flies, there is a diverse range of options. The types of habitats suitable for such birds can include meadows, streams, marshes, lake shores, open areas near woods, and farmland. These environments provide plenty of insects, including flies, for these birds to feed on.

Tip: Consider that many species of fly-eating birds require thickets and underbrush for protection from predators. Providing suitable shelter in your garden or backyard by planting dense shrubs and bushes can create a welcoming environment for these birds to take up residence and help keep your area free of pesky flies and insects.


In addition to natural habitats, many species of insect-eating birds, such as the Tree Swallow, are known to use birdhouses and nesting boxes as shelter. Providing nesting boxes for these birds can be a great way to encourage them to settle in your area and help control the local insect population.


Trees play an essential role in the lives of many fly-eating birds. Some birds, like the Great Crested Flycatcher, prefer to nest in tree cavities or even use old woodpecker holes. These sheltered spaces offer protection from the elements, as well as predators. It is not uncommon to find these birds in forests or woodlands with a mix of tree species such as poplar, cottonwood, oak, elm, or willows. The variety of trees helps provide an abundance of insects for the birds to feed on.

Meadows and Wetlands

In meadow and wetland habitats, you can find other fly-eating birds, like the Bank Swallow, which feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, including flies. These birds prefer to nest in colonies on the banks of lakes, rivers, and other water bodies, where they will burrow into the soft soil for their nests.

Open Spaces

Some fly-eating birds, such as the Purple Martin, are attracted to the open areas near woods and are commonly found in natural environments and human settlements. They can often be seen nesting in man-made structures like birdhouses and boxes, which can be provided to encourage their presence and help them thrive.

Impact on Ecosystems

Birds play a significant role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems by controlling pests. Many bird species, such as barn swallows, woodpeckers, and chickadees, have a diet that primarily consists of insects, including flies. These birds act as natural exterminators, consuming vast amounts of pests that can wreak havoc on crops and gardens. For instance, barn swallows can consume as many as 60 insects in an hour.

In addition to their predation on flies, many birds also consume other problematic insects like wasps, spiders, whiteflies, stinkbugs, and earwigs. This helps maintain the populations of these insects at manageable levels, reducing the need for artificial pest control methods. Nuthatches and chickadees, for example, feed on insects that burrow into tree bark, protecting trees from infestations.

Besides insects, birds also rely on various dietary sources like protein-rich seeds and cracked corn to fulfill their nutritional needs. This diverse diet enables them to maintain their strength and energy, necessary for maintaining their role as pest controllers.

Birds’ contribution to pest control also has ripple effects on the environment and human well-being. By consuming garden pests, these avian predators help protect crop yields, ensuring a plentiful food supply for people. Moreover, they indirectly contribute to mitigating climate change by protecting plants and trees, which sequester carbon dioxide.

Given their significant impact on ecosystems, it is crucial to preserve bird populations and their habitats. As birds’ diets continue to evolve in response to climate change, it is essential to monitor their consumption patterns and identify potential threats to the balance of ecosystems. By understanding the relationships between birds, their prey, and their environment, we can develop more effective conservation strategies to maintain this delicate balance.

Conservation and Threats

Birds that eat insects, like the Carolina Wren, play an important role in maintaining the balance of ecosystems by controlling insect populations. These insectivorous birds rely on diverse habitats, including marshes and other wetlands, to find food and shelter. However, their populations face numerous challenges stemming from human activities and environmental factors.

One major threat to these birds is habitat loss due to urbanization and agricultural expansion. Wetlands, in particular, have been severely affected by drainage and land conversion, resulting in a decline in suitable habitats for many insect-eating bird species. Moreover, deforestation and fragmentation of natural areas put additional pressure on these populations, making it difficult for them to thrive and survive.

Another concern is the widespread use of pesticides, which poses a direct threat to both birds and the insects they feed on. Ingesting insects contaminated with pesticides can lead to a decline in bird populations, as they may experience toxic effects or suffer from reduced food availability. Additionally, pesticides can alter the delicate balance of ecosystems, indirectly affecting the birds and their habitats.

Endangered bird species that eat insects, such as the Carolina Wren, require extra attention and care in terms of conservation efforts. Preservation of their habitats and the implementation of sustainable land management practices are essential to support their populations and maintain the health of ecosystems.

Moreover, the plumage of insect-eating birds is an essential factor in their survival. Bright, colorful plumage may increase their risk of predation, while dull colors may provide better camouflage. Changes in plumage due to environmental factors or genetic variations could have significant impacts on these bird populations.

To address these challenges, we must prioritize habitat restoration and conservation efforts, reduce the use of harmful pesticides, and promote the importance of insect-eating birds and their vital role in maintaining ecosystem health. By implementing these measures, we can help protect these valuable species and the habitats they depend on, ensuring that they continue to flourish for generations to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

What birds consume the most insects?

Many bird species are known to feed on insects, but some of the top consumers include swallows, flycatchers, and warblers. These birds have adapted to finding and catching insects in various ways, helping them to efficiently locate and consume their prey.

Which bird species are known for eating flies and mosquitoes?

Several bird species are known to include flies and mosquitoes in their diets. Some examples are swifts, swallows, and purple martins. These birds are especially skilled at catching insects while flying, making them effective at hunting flying insects like flies and mosquitoes.

How do the beaks of insect-eating birds look?

Insect-eating birds typically have specialized beaks that help them to catch and eat their prey. Many of these birds, such as warblers and flycatchers, have thin, pointed beaks that are perfect for plucking insects from the air or picking them off of plants and trees.

Which birds in North America are best at controlling insect populations?

In North America, some of the most effective birds at controlling insect populations include purple martins, swallows, and chickadees. These birds are known for their voracious appetites and their ability to consume large quantities of insects, helping to keep populations in check.

How can I attract insect-eating birds to my yard?

To attract insect-eating birds to your yard, you can provide a suitable habitat by planting native plants, maintaining a water source, and offering nesting sites. Additionally, installing birdhouses or nesting boxes specifically designed for insect-eating birds can also encourage them to inhabit your yard.

Are there any bird species that don’t consume insects?

Yes, there are bird species that primarily feed on sources other than insects. Some examples include hummingbirds, which feed mainly on nectar, and seed-eating birds like finches and sparrows. While some of these birds might occasionally consume insects, their diets are primarily composed of alternative food sources.

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