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Audubon Rockies: How To Plant A Garden That Helps Birds

Audubon Rockies Guest Post: How To Plant A Garden That Helps Birds

High Country Gardens is a proud sponsor of Audubon Rockies' Habitat Hero program. This organization provides people and businesses in Colorado, Wyoming, and Utah with the resources and information needed to plant bird-friendly gardens.

There is so much to learn about the beautiful birds of the West, and this organization has many resources for interested gardeners. As land across the country becomes domesticated, our gardens are essential for creating habitat. Read on for helpful tips for how you can plant a garden to attract and support birds, in this guest post from our friends at Audubon Rockies. 

Birds make wonderful neighbors, as they announce the arrival of each day with their cheerful songs! They enrich our lives with their stunning colors and boundless energy. But they also need our help.  

Why Birds Need Native Plants

It’s simple: birds need native plants. Native plants provide better sources of food than nonnative plants because they support the insects that birds rely on to feed themselves and their young. Compared to a conventional sod lawn, and a yard full of a diversity of native plants provides much better habitat for birds to nest in.

This habitat can also help birds adapt and survive amid a changing climate. Two-thirds of North American bird species are threatened by climate change, and native plants can help increase their resilience by giving them food and places to rest and nest. Our changing climate is already affecting many species of birds, causing their ranges to shift and shrink over time. Rising temperatures affect the timing of seasons, insect hatches, flower blooms, and other delicate links in the ecosystem that birds depend on. To protect birds from the impacts of a warming world, we need to reduce carbon pollution and protect the native plant habitats they need, now and into the future. Growing native plants is also a great way to reduce your climate impact by using less fertilizers, pesticides and water in your garden.

Once you start experimenting with native plants, you might see some of these climate-threatened birds along the Front Range of Colorado visit your yard, depending on the landscape around you: Green-Tailed Towhee, Townsend’s Solitaire, Cassin’s Finch, Western Wood-Pewee, Western Tanager, Broad-Tailed Hummingbird, and Pine Siskin. Birds and pollinators will benefit from your garden more than ever right now. Enjoy photos of some of these beautiful birds below, courtesy of Audubon Rockies. For help identifying the birds that visit your garden, use the Audubon's Guide To North American Birds or download The Audubon Bird Guide App for free!

1. Green-Tailed Towhee by Janne Bartkus/Audubon Photography Awards |  2. Western Tanager in a Douglas Fir by Timothy Lenahan/Audubon Photography Awards |  3. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird in a Nest by Bridget DeArman/Audubon Photography Awards  |  4. Broad-Tailed Hummingbird by Evan Barrientos/Audubon Rockies  |  5. Western Tanager by Janet Stevens/Audubon Photography Awards  |  6. Western Tanagers in an Elderberry Shrub by Mick Thompson/Audubon Rockies  |  7. Pine Siskin by Judy Lyle/Great Backyard Bird Count

Tips For Planing Your Habitat Garden

Here’s how you can get started. Find plants that are native to your zip code using Audubon’s Native Plants Database and purchase them from a reputable source like High Country Gardens. Fortunately for our current health crisis, researching, ordering, and planting the plants can all be done from your home.

  • When selecting your plants for the garden, try to plant a diversity of native plants.
  • A variety of colors, bloom times from early spring too late fall, textures, food sources, and horizontal and vertical structure will be both aesthetically pleasing for you and ideal for birds’ habitat needs.
  • A selection that offers a mixture of nuts, seeds, berries, nectar, and larval host plants will best support our local wildlife.  

Once you’ve created your bird-friendly garden, apply for certification from Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero program. Taking this step will publicly recognize the work you’ve done to help birds with native plants, and help inspire your neighbors to do the same.

By planting bird-friendly gardens, you can help reverse the biggest threats birds face: habitat loss from development and impacts from climate change. Anyone, regardless of their gardening abilities, can become a Habitat Hero. In doing so, you will help inspire others to weave together a landscape in which birds thrive.

Explore Additional Habitat Hero Resources 

Discover the many Habitat Hero resources and upcoming webinars available for help creating a bird-friendly garden! You can also support the largest Habitat Hero garden and explore a new model for solar farms.

The Habitat Hero Pre-Planned Garden

Our exclusive Habitat Hero Pre-Planned Garden was created by renowned garden designer Lauren Springer in partnership with Plant Select® and Audubon Rockies' Habitat Hero program.

Plant this garden to grow habitat for birds, butterflies, bees, and wildlife with ease! This design features some of High Country Gardens' bestselling native and Old World plants for a resilient, pollinator-friendly garden. Designed specifically for the Rockies but well-suited for many climates, the garden is a mix of 15 waterwise perennials, shrubs, and ornamental grasses. Colorful flowers bloom late spring through fall to supply nectar and pollen, and flowering shrubs provide structure, habitat, and berries. Ornamental Grasses offer seeds and habitat for insects, which are both important food sources for birds. Premium plants and a garden map make planting simple. 

native perennial apache plume

Shop Native Plants That Attract Birds

High Country Gardens offers a wide variety of native plants, including flowering shrubs, ornamental grasses, and perennial flowers that will help you grow a habitat-friendly garden. Use shopping filters to find plants that are suited to your growing conditions, and invite birds to your landscape!


Photos courtsey of Audubon Rockies. Images may not be used without permission.