At least 17 species of native birds (listed below) breed in gardens in Magnolia, and we hear them singing everywhere in spring and early summer as they build their nests and raise their young. All of them, even hummingbirds, depend on insects to feed their babies, and in doing so they consume amazing numbers of insects. For example, a chickadee may feed 200 caterpillars to its babies in a single day.

Someone came to our door today offering to spray our yard to kill insects and spiders. He said that the product he uses is eco-friendly, made from chrysanthemums (i.e., pyrethrins). Pyrethrins are toxic to humans only at very high concentrations, but they will kill all insects and spiders, many of which are harmless or beneficial, and they are very toxic to fish.

The problem is that by killing all the insects and spiders, you are removing the major source of food for baby birds, as well as killing the honeybees and bumble bees that pollinate our plants, including fruit trees and berry bushes, and also killing spiders and insects that prey on insect pests.

The result will be fewer birds in our neighborhood and less birdsong. Please don't starve the baby birds and kill the pollinators!

Joseph Brown and Rachel Lawson



Neighborhood birds that feed insects to their babies:

American crow 

American robin 

Anna's hummingbird 

Bewick's wren 

Black-capped chickadee 


Chestnut-backed chickadee 

Dark-eyed junco 

Downy woodpecker

House finch 

Northern flicker

Pacific wren

Red-breasted nuthatch 

Song sparrow 

Spotted towhee 

Steller's jay 

White-crowned sparrow