Plant Natives to Help Native Birds

Miami landscaping can be lush and exotic, but unfortunately a lot of times it’s not bird friendly.

What’s the best way to have bird visitors in your yard? Plant native plants! Having native plants in your yard provides shelter, food, and nesting spots for birds. Different birds eat different things. Some eat flowers, some eat seeds, and some eat fruit. As with most things in nature, the more diversity, the better, so plant a range of native plants that offer different things for birds to eat. Diversity in type of habitat is also important. Kirsten Hines, author of  Attracting Birds to South Florida Gardens, suggest planting buttonwood, oak or any of the stoppers (i.e. Simpson’s, white or red stopper). Stoppers are all native west indian hardwoods that produce a fragrant “skunky musk” and are found in the hardwood hammocks of Everglades, Big Cypress and parts of south Florida.

In addition to our year round feathered friends, each year thousands of birds migrate through Miami.  When they stop here to rest, they also need to be able to refuel. Imagine flying on a long journey and taking a pit stop where there’s not food! That’s what it’s like when birds fly through and find more ornamental or decorative plants versus plants that have fruits, seeds, or flowers for food. Even insects are crucial bird food! Don’t be afraid to have some in your yard.

Ornithologists at the Cape Florida Bird Banding Station documented that an American redstart gained 50 percent of it’s body weight in just one week of resting and foraging at Cape Florida during fall migration last year. This data is an indicator of how important native plants are to providing fuel/food to these migrants who reach our peninsula after a long journey across the Caribbean.