As described by the Cornell Bird Lab, putting up a feeder is an easy way to attract birds. But if you want to attract a wider variety of species, prefer your backyard birds to get a more natural diet, or wish to satisfy more than birds' nutritional needs, consider landscaping your yard—even just a part of it—to be more bird-friendly. Even a small yard can provide vital habitat. All it takes is a little time and effort, all the easier if you already enjoy gardening. The rewards are beautiful birds that add color and music to your life year-round. Many homeowners diligently follow the advice of providing water, bird feeders, and nesting boxes but don't know where to begin to provide natural food, shelter and nesting.
I've done some investigating of the best native plants (because that's what our birds evolved with) to support the birds indigenous to this area. The list is attached. And if you aren't convinced that native plants are the best food source, you should read recent research that counters the one or two studies showing that certain urban birds like Cardinals increase in number where there are invasions of exotic honeysuckles. Not surprisingly, these exotic fruit-bearing shrubs and vines nutrition is out of sync with the seasonal needs of our native birds. Furthermore, in the case of Cardinals, the bright coloration of males, which otherwise signals good health to females may be getting less reliable for cardinals in urban areas, because of the novel food sources available in town. Exotic plants also provide poorer nesting sites and may open the brood to predation, according to many scientific studies.
Spring is an excellent time to start adding bird-friendly and more importantly bird-sustaining native plants to your landscape. Come to our March 27-28 Two Mountain March Wildflower Madness to find out more!