Bird-friendly Gardens

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Jewelweed. Photo by Bob Oberfelder.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Jewelweed. Photo by Bob Oberfelder.

Your yard — and the kinds of plants in it — matters more than you may know. Although nature preserves and parks are important to wildlife, these areas represent a very small portion of our landscape. Suburban and rural yards are an increasing habitat that birds and other wildlife need to survive. Bird-friendly habitat includes sources of water, leaf litter, brush piles, and snags where possible.  Native plants play a very important role in providing the food birds need to survive and thrive in a way that non-native plants cannot do.

Native Plants
Native plants are those that occur naturally in an area. North Carolina, with its diverse geography, is home to thousands of native plant species! Our natural wildlife – including birds – have adapted to the resources provided by North Carolina’s native plant population. These plants and trees are, in a real sense, home for our birds.

The current population of native plants is becoming displaced by non-native, exotic and often vigorously growing species. These invasive exotic plants encroach on natural habitats and do not provide the nutrients many birds and other wildlife need to survive.

Why are native plants important?
In a word: insects… Almost all land birds require insects to feed their young. Even seed-eating birds often must feed their babies insects to ensure their survival. Insects play many important roles in nature, from pollinating plants, to digesting plant and animal waste. Insects cannot adapt to eating non-native plants. Insect populations have dropped alarmingly in many places around the world in part due to non-native plant introductions as well as pesticide use on farms and in yards and agricultural practices that leave insects with little habitat. Fewer native plants means fewer insects, which in turn means fewer bird babies growing to adulthood. 

Adding native plants to your yard – where to buy 

Native plant garden at the Chimney Swift Tower at Prairie Ridge Ecostation – click here

Wake Audubon Native Plant sale – Fall 2017  – check back here next year

Wake Audubon Bird-friendly Yard Certification – coming soon, currently seeking volunteers with experience in native plants and landscape design

This page is adapted from the Audubon North Carolina website. Plant lists, plant sources and other information can be found at their site, http://nc.audubon.org/conservation/bird-friendly-communities/bird-friendly-native-plants