For centuries before cities and suburbs began to develop, trees and other plants had been supporting local ecosystems’ key wildlife in many different ways. Be it shelter, a meal or even just some shade on a hot day, the abundance of plants on this green Earth of ours kept the circle of life rolling.
In modern cities and towns, however, it can be difficult for modern birds to find these sources of food and shelter like they could decades prior. This usually leads to a lack of certain species of birds in an area, or even very sparse populations of these species in general.
We here at Nature Hills can help bring back the birds to your backyard! Birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts alike need only to browse our stock to find an assortment of trees and other plants that look amazing while also supporting your local avian wildlife.
For plants to be able to support a bird’s survival needs they need to have a few key properties. These can be summed up in 3 parts: can this plant feed these birds, can it feed them all year round, and can they use this plant as shelter?
First, food; attracting birds is a good starting goal, but to keep your local feathered friends in the neighborhood it’s important to keep them well fed! Later in this article we will explore all the unexpected ways plants can provide food for birds.
Next, how long is this food going to last? Since not all non-migratory birds are predators, keeping your local birds healthy and fed through the winter is something to keep in mind in colder parts of the country.
Finally, shelter. If they decide to stick around, these beautiful birdies will need a place to spend the night. Make sure to grow plants that provide adequate bird friendly shelter so they can settle down during the warmer months (if you’re lucky, they may even start a family before your very eyes!)
While there are quite a few differences between the services flowers, trees and shrubs provide your local avifauna, it is important to make sure that you are planting flora native to your region. Foreign plants are attractive and usually hardy, but when introduced to a new environment it can affect food sources in the area.
Particular insects have adapted over time to only subsist off of particular trees. In turn, local birds have learned to seek out these trees for particular six-legged snacks.
Plants native to your area also have an all-around better chance of survival due to their natural adaptation to the environment. Better survivability means less maintenance for you and more reliable food and shelter for the area’s birds!
Nature Hills Nursery already has more information about native plants ready for you! Read more about the importance of and how to use native plants in your landscape in this article!
The most common sources of food for birds are the naturally occurring reproductive sources these flora produce in part for birds! Berries, fruit and seeds are all excellent meals for local fliers, and some of these plants will be able to grow anew when the bird is… well, “finished” with its meal.
One thing to keep in mind is that while certain plants won’t produce food throughout the year that doesn’t mean they won’t help a hungry bird find a meal. Sometimes plants being able to support other, smaller wildlife is enough!
Certain trees, such as Oak trees, do a great job of supporting a wide variety of an ecosystem’s smaller wildlife such as caterpillars and other grub like insects. Birds love their insect protein, and in turn, will flock to these trees in search of a wiggly meal to bring home to the kids.
Copious nectar attracts hummingbirds without the need for an expensive feeder as well! Plants and trees whose flowers bear nectar are sure to feed dozens and dozens of hummingbirds over their lifetimes.
Due to the vast plant variety of the United States, the term “native” can mean both native to the country and native to a particular area of the country. Due to this discrepancy, we recommend that interested growers do some research to find varieties of plants native to their immediate area for the best results.
Our stock does include many plants native to a majority of the United States, however! Here are just a few of the examples of widely native trees, shrubs and flowers available on our online store:
Purple Coneflower: (Echinacea purpurea) A two-for-one special for any eating birds, the Purple Coneflower is a widespread plains native. Hardy and drought tolerant, this flower provides both tasty seeds birds love and attracts a wide variety of bugs for an avian’s protein needs.
Great Blue Lobelia: (Lobelia siphilitica) A late-blooming cousin of the Cardinal Flower, the Great Blue Lobelia bears dense blue spikes of flowers. Full of nectar, the long-lasting droops of flowers make for a great treat to local hummingbirds.
Gatsby Pink Oakleaf Hydrangea: (Hydrangea quercifolia Gatsby Pink®) A flowering shrub with dense clusters of white pink flowers, the Gatsby Pink Oakleaf Hydrangea’s thick foliage provides great shelter to birds. The seeds of the plant’s blooms also provide food as the summer closes.
Red Sprite Holly: (Ilex verticillata) The compact deciduous shrub Red Sprite Holly provides not only several seasons of interest but several seasons of meals as well! Its red berries grow in the fall and last well into winter, but it is important to note this female plant needs a male partner to bear fruit at all.
Nordic Inkberry: (Ilex glabra 'Chamzin') Nordic Inkberry shrubs are a cousin of the holly plant with similar qualities of long-lasting berries. This makes for a great source of food in winter when the bugs lose their prominence.
Oak Trees: (Quercus L.) A medium to large sized tree, Oak trees provide many advantages to a bird’s survival. From a place to nest to a source of food in the way of seeds and insects, Oak trees native to your region make for a great contribution to the local avian ecosystem.
Nature Hills Nursery has a wider variety of plants available for your avian supporting needs available from our store. Feel free to check our store again after some research of what plants are native to your region!
Growing plants to help your local ecosystem is admirable and fulfilling. We applaud anyone attempting these growing pursuits and wish you the best of luck! Happy Gardening!