by Kathy Ross
“Each patch of restored native habitat is just that—a patch in the frayed fabric of the ecosystem in which it lies. By landscaping with native plants, we can turn a patchwork of green spaces into a quilt of restored habitat. More native plants mean more choices of food and shelter for native birds and wildlife. To survive, native birds need native plants and insects that have co-evolved them.”National Audubon
A few years ago I wrote a series of articles on how we can help our birds by using native plants in our gardens and landscapes to stop habitat loss (https://flatheadaudubon.org/birds/helping-birds). Loss of native plant communities is a major cause of decline in our bird populations, and in the insect populations that support over 90 percent of our birds. The last few years in the Flathead Valley demonstrate how quickly bird habitat can disappear! What is a bird to do????
Since that time, the movement to plant native plants has mushroomed. Planting native plants is no longer just a nice way to help our birds. It is now recognized as a necessary part of providing support for a much wider range of biodiversity, powered by pollinators and birds. More research is being done, new native plant databases are appearing, along with a variety of new publications on how to make our own gardens and landscapes more supportive of the wild we live with. To help you sort through all this helpful information, I’ve listed below some great online sites and YouTube discussions that give you new ideas and answer many of your questions, and will empower you to make a difference for the birds!
- For starters, Google ‘Doug Tallamy YouTube’. There are many and they are all informative.
- Audubon Rockies, ‘Habitat Hero’ speaker series, ’What are bird friendly gardens and why plant one?’ https://youtube.com/watch?v=1BiF_TryCn8
- National Audubon, ‘Native plants for birds,’ offers a native plant database for any zip code– what native plants to plant and which birds they will attract to your yard, https://audubon.org/PLANTSFORBIRDS
- Cornell Lab of Ornithology webinar in collaboration with Audubon, a great introduction to planting native plants to support birds and pollinators, https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/live-event/gardening-for-birds/
- Montana Native Plant Society YouTube Channel,
- Landscaping for Birds, https://youtube.com/watch?v=iH5P7a9UtvQ
- Conservation Gardening, https://youtube.com/watch?v=xYDG8oHL8G8
- Center for Native Plants, Whitefish, MT, https://centerfornativeplants.com
- American Bird Conservancy, ‘Bird Friendly Life’– Go Native with your landscaping, https://abcbirds.org/blog/native-trees-shrubs-attract-birds/
- National Wildlife Federation, ’Planting for Wildlife’, https://nwf.org/home/garden-for-wildlife
- Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, “Let’s Talk Gardens” series:
- Native plants to replace invasives in your garden, https://youtube.com/watch?v=GARIImd7OvM&t=14s
- A natural history approach to protecting pollinators and birds, https://youtube.com/watch?v=CXZegHE-SsI