Audubon database encourages avian visitors

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Migrating birds visit yards looking for nourishment as well as places to raise their chicks. Photo: siamesepuppy/FlickrMigrating birds visit yards looking for nourishment as well as places to raise their chicks.
Photo: siamesepuppy/Flickr

Bird migration is currently underway with the early arrival of spring, and despite Alfred Hitchcock’s movie The Birds, many clients have a desire to attract birds to their yards.

With this seasonal change, the National Audubon Society has invited nature enthusiasts to grow bird-friendly native plants at home. Through the public online database Audubon’s Plants and Birds, anyone can access a list of native plants that can benefit their favorite local species of birds. All that is required is a zip code. For those clients in love with wildlife, this site is a great recommendation for those wanting to bask in the birds.

“Birds and native plants are made for each other thanks to millions of years of evolution,” said Dr. John Rowden, Audubon’s director of community conservation. “As plants grow and bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, there is a growing mismatch between bloom times and the arrival of birds that depend on them. Habitat provided by native plants can help climate threatened birds adapt and survive.”

Migrating birds visit yards looking for nourishment as well as places to raise their chicks. By adding native plants to a yard, container garden, balcony public space or rooftop, not only will birds be attracted to the area, Audubon says they will also have the best chance for survival when faced with climate changes and urban development.

According to Audubon, many available plants in nurseries are exotic, and many may be prized for qualities that may not make them the best source of food for wildlife. Some can become invasive and generally require more chemicals to water and thrive, which increases costs, environmental hazards and maintenance time.

“Did you know that 96 percent of land birds feed insects and spiders to their chicks?” said Tod Winston, a Plants for Birds program associate at Audubon. “A single nest of chickadee babies may scarf down as many as 9,000 caterpillars before they fledge. Native tree species are better for birds because they host many more caterpillars; native oaks support more than 550 kinds of butterflies and moths. Non-native Ginkgo trees? Only five.”

Not only will growing native plants help give local birds the supplies they need, it will also give your clients their own private wildlife paradise to enjoy.

If your customers are fans of specific species here’s the cliff notes version of some plants that attract certain types of birds.

  • Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Tanagers – sunflowers, elderberries and serviceberries

  • Chickadees and Titmice – birches and sumacs

  • Finches – composite flowers, spruces, hemlocks and pines

  • Hummingbirds – honeysuckle vines (avoid Lonicera japonica), penstemons, milkweeds and sages

  • Sparrows – blackberries and wild grasses (Andropogon, Bouteloua, Panicum, and Sorghastrum spp.)

  • Warblers and Vireos – Oaks and beeches

  • Woodpeckers – Pines, hickories, oaks and cherries

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