|Native plant gardening is becoming critically important to the survival of wildlife
Native Hummingbird Plants
Native plant gardening is becoming critically important to the survival of wildlife, particularly birds. Native plants attract many birds and the insects that birds eat. These plants are adapted to life in this area so they do not need dangerous fertilizers or pesticides to thrive. Using native plants in your garden or around your home creates a safe haven for birds – This landscape is becoming increasingly rare. Unfortunately, using exotic plant species or chemical insect and weed killers will drive away many of the birds that may otherwise use our outdoor areas to eat, mate and reproduce.
In his new book, Bringing Nature Home, Douglas W. Tallamy discusses the relationships between birds, insects, plants and people. Many of our natural areas are being converted into communities for people. Tallamy urges home gardeners to take an active role in providing the food and habitat that birds need to survive. He believes that “gardeners have become important players in the management of our nation’s wildlife.” His research reveals that our native insects are not feeding on the many exotic plant species that we usually find at our local nurseries. Insects are a primary source of food for birds. In fact, Tallamy states that “if you count all of the terrestrial bird species in North America that rely on insects … to feed their young, you would find that figure to be about 96% -- In other words, nearly all of them.” Hummingbirds are no different – Most of their diet is made up of small arthropods, such as fruit flies, gnats, spiders, caterpillars and insect eggs.
In addition to renowned guest speakers and wonderful activities, (check out our calendar of events) visitors will get an up-close look at the many Ruby-throated Hummingbirds that are foraging for insects and sipping from flowers or feeders to fatten up for their long journey south. By offering many favorite native plant species and sugar-water feeders from spring through fall, large numbers of the birds are attracted to Strawberry Plains Audubon Center. Bird banding during the festival give guests another opportunity to watch and learn more about these tiny titans!
You can celebrate hummingbirds in your backyard by creating a habitat they will visit. Hummingbird feeders only require 1 part sugar to every 4 parts water. To really entice the birds, keep your yard as wooded or shrubby as possible and plant the native species that they love.
Most native plants can be found at local nurseries, including the Strawberry Plains Native Plant Nursery. Be sure and ask for the plant by both the common name and the botanical name. If you are unsure, you may want to do a little research. Many species of plants have the same common name but can be very different. Also there are many exotic plants that have the same common names as our natives.
Please note, native plants are for sale at Strawberry Plains.
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