Jan. 5 is National Bird Day!

Jan. 5 is National Bird Day!

How does your garden grow?
The adage says that the early bird gets the worm, but does your yard have enough “worms,” or food, for the birds to eat? Recent research published from Biological Conservation indicates that yards with non-native plants host fewer insects than those with native plant species. And with fewer insects, it makes it harder for birds, especially migratory ones, to rest, nest and seek shelter.
 
The rise of urban landscapes in the past 100 years has taken a toll on native plants. They are frequently replaced with exotic ones in manicured lawns. A native plant is one that naturally grows in the region where it evolved, serving as critical habitat for the bird species that live there, or migrate through. With native plants, Texas can provide habitat for 632 of 914 North American bird species, but with the rise in exotic and invasive species, these birds cannot depend on Texas like they once could.
 
Live bird friendly
Adding native plants to yards provides shelter and nesting areas for birds, and food sources for the insects that birds eat. We know what you’re thinking – more bugs? No thanks! But the reality is that the more insects living in your yard means more food for the birds. Chances are you won’t notice the bugs because more birds will be in the area to eat them!
 
Take a look at your own backyard – what can you do to help native wildlife? If you can, reduce the amount of grass in your yard and replace with native plant beds. Don’t have much yard to work with? Try window boxes or planters that you can place on your porch or driveway. Planting a wide variety of flowers, shrubs, trees and other plants provides diverse food sources for native insects and birds. Try to plant a mix of larval insect host plants, nectar-, berry-, seed- and nut-producing plants. Keep in mind evergreen and deciduous trees to provide food and shelter regardless of the season. Providing birds natural food helps prevent the spread of invasive species in the area. Plus, you’ll notice that many more types of birds will visit your home to take a nap, have a snack or just to sing a little song in their native plant oasis.