August 31 – For the birds

Today’s factismal: Filling your yard with native plants provides up to 7.5 times more food for the local birds.

Birds are pretty weird. There are species that fly from one end of the globe to the other every year and species that shoot salt out their noses and species that drop from the sky at 242 mph! But that weirdness has made them great survivors. They survived the death of the dinosaurs and the rise of disco, and they’ll probably even survive us. (Well, mostly.) But they wouldn’t mind a helping hand in that survival race.

This magpie has more food because it is surrounded by native plants (My camera)

This magpie has more food because it is surrounded by native plants
(My camera)

And one of the best ways to help birds survive is to put in a garden filled with native plants. This helps birds two ways. First, it provides them with the sort of cover that they are used to; a robin knows how to hide in a thicket but is lost when all it sees is rosebushes. And second, native plants attract native insects that native birds love to eat. As a result, by replacing your pretty but foreign plants with equally pretty but native ones, you can provide the birds with up to seven and a half times the amount of food to eat which means that you could get seven and a half time more birds visiting your backyard. Native plants also use less water, fertilizer, and other money-intensive things, so you’ll end up saving money as well. (Sorry about that.)

These magpies have to make do with whatever is in the feeder (My camera)

These magpies have to make do with whatever is in the feeder
(My camera)

Of course, every masterpiece begins with a plan. And the best place to plan how you’ll plant your yard is your state agricultural office. But they’ll want to know what your yard looks like. And that’s where YardMap comes in. This is another citizen science project from the good folks at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. They’ll help you map out your yard and point you in the right direction for finding local native plant resources. To learn more, go to:
http://content.yardmap.org/

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