Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard

Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard

New research shows that small habitats can add up to a big difference.

By Rene Ebersole
Published: July-August 2013

A version of this story ran in the July-August 2013 issue under the title "Food Network."

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I have gained some useful

I have gained some useful information from this site. Thanks for sharing this information. Healthy bird communities are inextricably linked to healthy insect populations. Ninety-six percent of terrestrial North American birds raise their young on insects.

I like to mention that many

I like to mention that many native plants edible by birds (directly or indirectly) are edible by people too, and (once the plants get established in your yard) there is typically plenty of fruit for all, human and non-human alike. Take Juneberry (aka Shadbush, Serviceberry, or Amalanchier to botanists) - the fruit (which ripens in June, hence the common name) tastes like a cross between cherries and almonds (they are all related). The typical Juneberry tree gets to be 12 feet tall and fruits prolifically, so people can often pick as much fruit as they like from the lower branches, leaving the fruit on the upper branches for the birds.

Great article. So glad to

Great article. So glad to see another one promoting this issue. Of course, Doug Tallamy. We have had him speak here twice. His words are golden.
We have been promoting folks having a bird-friendly habitat/yard for about 4 years by offering an award to do so. All of our consults and award offerings are free. We are paired with the local native plant society and have now made inways to schools to educate the young folks on the necessity of bird friendly habitats.
Also, North Carolina Audubon has formed a committee addressing all the issues associated with getting a bird friendly habitat. State recommended non native plant lists, invasive plant sales, etc.
Charley Winterbauer, President, Cape Fear Audubon Society

People can Nibble on Natives Too

Hi - This was a great article. I especially enjoyed the version appearing in print, as it included many photos of native plant species and the insects (and, in turn the birds) utilizing them for food.

While it is likely that many Audubon Magazine readers would be sufficiently motivated to plant native plants for their benefits to birds, other folks might need additional convincing. That is one reason why I like to mention that many native plants edible by birds (directly or indirectly) are edible by people too, and (once the plants get established in your yard) there is typically plenty of fruit for all, human and non-human alike. Take Juneberry (aka Shadbush, Serviceberry, or Amalanchier to botanists) - the fruit (which ripens in June, hence the common name) tastes like a cross between cherries and almonds (they are all related). The typical Juneberry tree gets to be 12 feet tall and fruits prolifically, so people can often pick as much fruit as they like from the lower branches, leaving the fruit on the upper branches for the birds.

Here's a link to a blog posting on this subject (edible plants native to New England) - http://nativeplantwildlifegarden.com/grow-your-own-edible-native-plants-...

Here's a link to a spreadsheet I prepared on the Edible Native Plants of New England - http://www.ecolandscaping.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Edible-Native-P...

My point is that the "you can it it too" factor might help in many cases to induce people to plant natives who aren't sufficiently convinced by the purely ecological argument.

insect food

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/05/22/2009/gardening-with-native-pl...

What a great story, and a great project Audubon. I was very happy to see Tallamy's work featured in the magazine, but I think I didn't see this explanation of exactly how natives are better for insects. Not many insects have lived with non-native species of plants to have developed the anti-bodies to the toxins that all plants put out so they won't get eaten. If one doesn't have a whole article to try to persuade gardeners of the importance of (locally) native plants, this explanation seems to demystify the natives-are-good habitat proscription that is missing from so many discussions about the reason we need natives.

http://www.sciencefriday.com/segment/05/22/2009/gardening-with-native-pl...

cultivars

Just want to comment on cultivars. Cultivated varieties are not necessarily hybrids that have been tweaked. Many of them, in the native plant industry particularly, are merely selections of plants from the wild that have desirable ornamental characteristics. There is no reason to shun these plants.

Otherwise, great article, I really enjoyed it!

Except when those "desirable

Except when those "desirable ornamental characteristics" have eliminated one or more critical ecological functions of the plant. Great example in the STL area is Annabelle's Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens 'annabelle'), a very popular ornamental shrub. The flowers are sterile. The average homeowner doesn't appreciate that.

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