The National Audubon Society has just launched a new citizen-science project called Plants for Birds. The project calls for individuals across the U.S. to replace turf and non-native landscapes with native plants, which are important to the life cycle of native bird species.
“Plants provide resources for birds and other wildlife directly by the fruit and seeds and nectar they provide, but also by acting as hosts to insects and it’s important for birds that these plants act as insect hosts because the vast majority of North American land birds feed insects, particularly caterpillars, to their chicks” said Dr. John Rowden, director of community conservation at the National Audubon Society.
Rowden said that, like people, birds need a variety of resources to be successful.
“There’s a complex of needs that birds have, from shelter to providing food for themselves and their young and so actually designing a habitat that has a variety of resources, that has different structural levels within it is all really important” Rowden said.
Rowden shared that in addition to helping our flighty friends, planting native plants also has benefits for people, including saving time and reducing carbon emissions.
“Because native plants are adapted to local conditions, they require less maintenance than non-native plants. So they have benefits to birds directly, but also you don’t need to be adding things like pesticides or fertilizers. If you convert some of your lawn or all of your lawn to native plants, you won’t need to do as much mowing, so you get time back in your day” Rowden said. “You get some leisure time back if you’re not having to spend so much time doing maintenance of these exotic species and lawn and you just let the native plants go.”
The project’s goal is to establish 1 million bird-friendly native plants over the next year.
For more information on what native plants and native bird species exist in your area, visit the National Audubon Society's native plants database here.