NEW YORK — With spring arriving early and bird migration now underway, the National Audubon Society is offering a free, one-of-a-kind Plants for Birds online database of native plants that attract local birds species.
Just tap in your zip code and anyone nationwide can access a list of local native plants that benefit favorite birds. Audubon’s Plants for Birds database has hundreds of plants, trees, shrubs and grasses that provide food, nesting and rest stops for hundreds of species of birds. And, it lists by zip code the Audubon support centers, native plant nurseries and retailers that sell the listed local native plants.
It’s a one-stop shop for anyone who wants to grow native plants that provide food and shelter for local birds.
“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,” says Dr. John Rowden, Audubon’s director of community conservation. “Habitat provided by native plants can help climate threatened birds adapt and survive.”
Our gardens are outdoor sanctuaries for birds, insects and other wildlife. Every spring, migrating birds visit our yards looking for food from our gardens and places to raise their chicks. By adding native plants to a yard, balcony, container garden, rooftop or public space, anyone, anywhere can not only attract more birds but also give them the best chance of survival in the face of climate change and urban development.
A tasty native plant tidbit: Native oaks support more than 550 species of butterflies and moths. The non-native gingko tree supports just five. Caterpillars are the go-to source for many birds. A clutch of Carolina Chickadee chicks can scarf down more than 9,000 caterpillars in the 16 days between hatching and leaving the nest.
Most landscaping plants available in nurseries are exotic species from other countries. Many are prized for qualities that make them poor food sources for wildlife. They generally also require more chemicals and water to thrive, increasing maintenance time, costs and environmental hazards. Some can even become invasive.
Audubon and more than 190 other organizations have declared 2018 the Year of the Bird to bring attention to the plight of birds and commemorate the 100th anniversary of the country’s most important bird protection law called the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Each month during Year of the Bird includes a call to action that helps birds, and for March participants are encouraged to grow native plants.
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For extra bird-friendly home tips, gardening DIY’s, and more, visit audubon.org/plantsforbirds.
By growing native plants, you can help protect birds while turning your home into a private wildlife paradise. Keep common birds common with these native plants this spring:
Cardinals, Grosbeaks and Tanagers
- Birds: Northern Cardinal, Black-headed Grosbeak, Blue Grosbeak, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Scarlet Tanager, Western Tanager
- Attract Them With: Sunflowers (Helianthus spp.), elderberries (Sambucus spp.), and serviceberries (Amelanchier spp.)
Chickadees and Titmice
- Birds: Black-capped Chickadee, Carolina Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, Juniper Titmouse, Oak Titmouse, Tufted Titmouse
- Attract Them With: Birches (Betula spp.) and sumacs (Rhus spp.)
- Birds: American Goldfinch, Cassin’s Finch, House Finch, Lesser Goldfinch, Pine Siskin, Purple Finch
- Attract Them With: Composite flowers (Asteraceae family), spruces (Abies spp.), hemlocks (Tsuga spp.), and pines (Pinus spp.)
- Birds: Anna’s Hummingbird, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Costa’s Hummingbird, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird
- Attract Them With: Honeysuckle vines (Lonicera spp.), penstemons (Pentemon spp.), milkweeds (Asclepias spp.)), and sages (Salvia spp.)
- Birds: American Tree Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Song Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow
- Attract Them With: Blackberries (Rubus spp.) and wild grasses (Andropogon, Bouteloua, Panicum, and Sorghastrum spp.)
Warblers and Vireos
- Birds: Blackburnian Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Wilson’s Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Warbling Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo
- Attract Them With: Oaks (Quercus spp.) and beeches (Fagus spp.)
- Birds: Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Ladder-backed Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, White-headed Woodpecker
- Attract Them With: Pines (Pinus spp.), hickories (Carya spp.), oaks (Quercus spp.), and cherries (Prunus sp.)
What’s that bird outside your window? Download Audubon’s free app and get an award-winning field guide at your fingertips, audubon.org/apps
The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow, throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization. Learn more how to help at www.audubon.organd follow @audubonsociety.