Your Yard Can Be Good Bird Habitat ... by Jim Green

Why native plants? 
       Native plants support pollinators and food ecosystems much better than do non-native plants.
       Learn more at Dr. Doug Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home site.

What Birds Need in a Healthy Ecosystem 

  • Good nesting and year-round roosting sites 
  • Good plant diversity which results in good insect diversity 
  • Lawns are poor habitat for most birds and insects – reduce your lawn to only what you really need 
  • Cover and shelter (both vertical & horizontal dimensions) – large shrubs and trees with dense foliage 
  • No free-roaming cats and dogs                   
  • Quality food sources 
  •       A diverse abundance of caterpillars and other insects for young birds 
  •       Chemical-free 
  •       Fruits, seeds, nectar, nuts throughout the growing season and beyond 
  • Minimal human disturbance 
  • Source of water 
Specific Native Plants to Attract Birds 

          Serviceberry Amelanchier laevis, arborea, canadensis – Small tree; perhaps the earliest native tree to bear fruit.
          Fruit ripens in June, even late May during warm springs.

          Cardinal Flower Lobelia cardinalis – Excellent to attract hummingbirds. Peak bloom time – late July to early Sept.
          Prefers moist soil and at least partial sunlight.

          Silky Dogwood Cornus amomum – Very fast grower, to over 15’ tall. Plant small to save money. Average to moist
          soil. Prolific and reliable fruit (metallic blue berries) producer in August and early September.

          Trumpet Honeysuckle Lonicera sempervirens – Easy to grow vine, great for hummingbirds. Peak bloom time in
          May and June, but flowers come and go for months.

          Black Elderberry Sambucus canadensis – Very fast grower. Average to moist soil. Small berries in mid-to-late

          Oswego Tea (Scarlet Bee Balm) Monarda didyma – Great for hummingbirds. Peak bloom time – July into August.
          Prefers moist soil and at least partial sunlight. Can become aggressive.

          Eastern Red Cedar Juniperus virginiana – Versatile coniferous tree; tolerates a wide range of soil. Thick foliage is
          ideal for nesting and roosting. Blue drupes attract many bird species. Can harbor Cedar-apple Rust.

          Arrowwood Viburnum dentatum or Viburnum recognitum – Versatile with blue berries in mid-summer.

          Chokecherry Prunus virginiana – Fast growing small tree. Attractive flower clusters are followed by red fruit, mainly
          in July. Allow it to sucker to form thick clumps. Host to many insect larvae.

          Wild Columbine Aquilegia canadensis – Early-blooming perennial to attract hummingbirds. Flowers in late April and

          Oaks – Quercus – Perhaps the best large tree genus to attract insect (especially butterfly) larvae. Invest in the

          Winterberry Ilex Verticillata – Versatile shrub. Late-summer berries often persist well into winter before resident
          birds or early spring arrivals eat them.

          Black Chokeberry Aronia melanocarpa – Easy to grow shrub in dry to moist soil. Large berries in midsummer.

Sources of Native Plants Include: 

Valuable Links:
Good Books to Learn More

          Sara Stein: Noah’s Garden: Restoring the Ecology of Our Own Back Yards, 1993
          Doug Tallamy:
               ✓ Bringing Nature Home: How Native Plants Sustain Wildlife in Our Gardens, 2007
               ✓ Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard - Just released in 2020
               ✓ The Living Landscape: Designing for Beauty and Biodiversity in the Home Garden (co-authored with Rick
                   Darke), 2014
           Eric Grissell: Insects and Gardens: In Pursuit of a Garden Ecology, 2006

Questions?: Contact Jim Green   or

March 2020