Chapel Hill, N.C. (October 5, 2016) — The National Audubon Society has officially launched its Plants For Birds program, a campaign designed to help inform and encourage individuals and communities to grow native plants that benefit wildlife. By adding native plants in one’s yard, balcony, container garden, or public space, individuals can not only attract more birds but give them the best chance of survival in a modern landscape of fragmented habitat and climate change.
“For every native plant grown in North Carolina, we can provide birds with more opportunities to rest, refuel and raise chicks, and work to prevent from further population decline,” said Curtis Smalling, Audubon North Carolina’s Director of Conservation. “We know that setting a goal to grow fifty thousand plants in North Carolina is impressive, but we are confident that it can be achieved through the passion of North Carolina’s bird and garden enthusiasts.”
Through its Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year program, Audubon North Carolina has already engaged more than 1,000 gardeners, retailers and wholesalers to grow native plants that benefit birds across our state. Because of the education and outreach efforts, popularity for bird-friendly gardening has grown and local businesses have reported a steady increase in demand for native plants that benefit birds.
“Birds are the most common visible wildlife on the planet, and 47 million Americans say they enjoy birdwatching. We wake to birdsong, we connect birds with places, memories, family, and friends,” says Dr. John Rowden, Audubon’s director of community conservation. “As urbanization increases and natural habitats disappear, native plants can go a long way to restoring the environments they need.”
Gardens are outdoor sanctuaries that, with some careful plant choices, can be a vital recharge station for birds passing through. Birds depend on native plants for food, shelter, and places to nest. Most landscaping plants available in nurseries are exotic species from other countries. Many are prized for qualities that make them poor food sources for native birds—like having leaves that are unpalatable to insects and caterpillars they feed on. With 96 percent of all terrestrial bird species in North America feeding insects to their young, planting insect-proof exotic plants means a scarcity of food.
Through Audubon’s public online native plant database, anyone nationwide can access a list of available plants that benefit specific bird species on a local scale. By entering one’s zip code, the database provides a list of native plants custom to the user’s region, with information about the local bird species those plants can support. Audubon’s local chapters, native plant nurseries and retailers are also listed for anyone seeking more knowledge and where to obtain the right plants.
Planting bird-friendly natives like the spicebush can provide fuel to fall migrants like the Wood Thrush. Wood Thrushes are a rapidly declining species impacted by urbanization, habitat loss and the effects of climate change. Providing bird-friendly native plants with berries high in fat could help more birds survive the long journey boosting populations from year to year.
Landscaping for wildlife is one of the most individually empowering conservation tools. Not only do native plants benefit birds, butterflies and other wildlife, they generally require less chemicals and water to thrive, reducing maintenance time and costs and environmental hazards such as chemical runoff into waterways.
Where birds thrive, people prosper. Every plant helps. Together, bird lovers across the country can rebuild a natural and sustainable landscape through the beauty of plants. To learn more visit, www.audubon.org/plantsforbirds.
About Audubon North Carolina
With a century of conservation history in North Carolina, Audubon strives to conserve and restore the habitats we share with all wildlife, focusing on the needs of birds. Audubon North Carolina achieves its mission through a blend of science-based research and conservation, education and outreach, and advocacy. Audubon North Carolina has offices in Corolla, Boone, Wilmington and Chapel Hill.
The National Audubon Society saves birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation. Audubon's state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners have an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, Audubon's vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Audubon is a nonprofit conservation organization.
Learn more at www.audubon.org and follow @audubonsociety.