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How to create a bird haven in your backyard

Spring is in the air! We’re all excited to get out there and bring new life to our yards. This is the perfect time to add native plants to your backyard habitat to make it more attractive to birds and other wildlife.

A goldfinch snacking on sunflower seeds
A goldfinch snacking on sunflower seeds

Birds seek out native plants and trees, knowing they provide much-needed resources – food, cover and shelter, and safe places to raise their young. Native plants are hardy, tend to propagate and spread on their own, and often require little maintenance. Adding them to your yard is a win-win!

There are so many options, you’re sure to find something just right for your yard. Here are some tips to get you started:

  • Seedeaters such as jays, cardinals, chickadees, and finches love seeding flowers like coneflower, black-eyed Susan, sunflower, coreopsis, and aster.

  • Choose flowers like salvia, sage, bee balm, penta, wild petunia, verbena, and butterfly weed to attract pollinators.

  • Host plants are crucial for butterflies. Plant milkweed for Monarchs, and passion flower for Gulf Fritillaries.

  • Hummingbirds love flowering vines like clematis, trumpet vine, Turk’s cap, honeysuckle, and flame vine.

  • Orioles, tanagers, waxwings, bluebirds, woodpeckers, and other birds love fruit! Try adding vines like Virginia creeper and grapevines; bushes like yaupon and holly; and trees like mulberry, persimmon, hawthorn, and olive.

  • Birds also love trees such as sweetgum, pecan, oak, black walnut, and black hickory.

  • Native plants and trees will also attract insects, another important food source for birds. Please don’t use chemical pesticides and fertilizers! Insects are necessary for a healthy ecosystem.

  • Don’t forget to add a source of fresh water to your yard, such as a bird bath or trickling water feature.

A mockingbird perched on a yaupon tree
A mockingbird perched on a yaupon tree

By creating a haven for birds and other wildlife, you are helping to replenish critical resources that have been lost due to development of our lands and waters. Visit for information on qualifying your yard as a Certified Wildlife Habitat® and participating in the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.

Contributed by Kristine Rivers, founder of Birding for Fun.

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