Plants For Birds: Native Songbird Gardens

by David Salman

Bird / Native Songbird Gardens

Plants For Birds: Create Songbird habitats with our regional native Songbird Gardens

Plants For Birds: Helping Songbirds Raise Their Young

The time to plant more native plants for birds is now! Our pre-planned native Songbird Gardens are designed specifically to help our songbird population in each region. Nearly 50% of songbird populations are suffering as a result of habitat loss and declines in healthy native plant populations and diversity.

Recent scientific research conducted by University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy, has revealed compelling new data that shows diverse populations of native plants are essential for songbirds to successfully raise their young. We now know that a mating pair of birds needs to collect between 4,000 to 6,000 caterpillars to raise a nest of chicks. And yet, a landscape full of Old World plants (non-natives from Europe, Asia, and Africa) will yield very few caterpillars and songbirds will not be able to utilize these areas as habitat to raise their young.

Plants For Birds: Insects and the Web of Life

For as long as I can remember, there has been a horticultural drumbeat that has vilified insects to be something that we don't want in our yards and gardens. Indeed, there are injurious pests that attack our vegetables, our annual and perennial flowers, as well as our trees and shrubs. And these "bad bugs" have become more of a problem due to the widespread use of toxic chemical pesticides. These poisons have severely disrupted the delicate balance in nature whereby predator insects, bats, birds, reptiles, and amphibians feed on and keep the "bad bugs" under control.

For this and many other reasons, gardening naturally and organically MUST be how we grow our ornamental and food plants.

Yet, insects are a vital part of the food chain. These six-legged creatures consume plant tissue and convert the energy of the sun into protein for rest of the non-herbivore animal kingdom to feed. In a healthy landscape or larger ecosystem, native plants and insects strike a balance. The insects that feed on plants consume just enough to live and multiply without killing or significantly damaging the plants. Thus, nature provides the caterpillars to feed our beloved songbirds. And we humans won't even be aware that all this is going on. We only see the results: lots of songbird nests full of healthy chicks that will become the next generation of adult birds.

Plants For Birds: Regional Native Songbird Gardens

Our regional Songbird Gardens contain a selection of native plants that research by Prof. Tallamy, the National Wildlife Association and the Xerces Society have shown to be some of the best genera for providing food plants for butterfly and moth caterpillars and other insect larvae to feed.

Each regional Songbird Garden has two different planting diagrams (one for fence lines and the other for rectangular beds to be planted elsewhere on the property). Where possible, plant the garden(s) in sunny areas close to established trees and shrubs to provide additional nesting sites from where the birds can live and stay close to their nests.

We are making it easy for songbird lovers and gardeners who are interested in creating songbird habitat, to plant more natives that beautify their properties and help ensure that songbirds will have places to raise their young.

Mother Nature will appreciate your efforts.

Text and Photos by Founder and Chief Horticulturist David Salman.

© All articles are copyrighted by High Country Gardens. Republishing an entire High Country Gardens blog post or article is prohibited without written permission. Please feel free to share a short excerpt with a link back to the article on social media websites, such as Facebook and Pinterest.

Intermountain West Native Songbird Gardens

Easily choose the right songbird plants with our pre-planned gardens. | Native Intermountain West Songbird Garden.

Southwest Native Songbird Gardens

Local songbirds will benefit from the habitat you create for them. | Native Southwest Songbird Garden.
  1. Yellow Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm, Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm, Black Eyed Susan

    Rudbeckia Goldsturm blooms in mid-to-late summer with an eye-catching display of golden flowers. Black Eyed Susan is very attractive to butterflies and the seed heads provide winter ...

    Learn More
    Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
    As low as $9.99 Sale $9.49
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Rudbeckia Goldsturm blooms in mid-to-late summer with an eye-catching display of golden flowers. Black Eyed Susan is very attractive to butterflies and the seed heads provide winter food for seed-eating songbirds as well. Reliable and tough, Rudbeckia tolerates both drought and clay plus easy to maintain.
    Learn More
  2. Salvia sylvestris May Night, May Night Meadow Sage, Purple Salvia sylvestris May Night

    Salvia sylvestris ‘May Night’ (May Night Sage) blooms prolifically with deep purple-blue flowers. It is an outstanding perennial with excellent cold hardiness, vigor, and toleran...

    Learn More
    May Night Salvia May Night Meadow Sage Salvia sylvestris May Night
    As low as $9.49 Sale $9.02
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot
    Salvia sylvestris ‘May Night’ (May Night Sage) blooms prolifically with deep purple-blue flowers. It is an outstanding perennial with excellent cold hardiness, vigor, and tolerance of heavy clay soils. Blooming in late spring with a profusion of flower spikes, it reblooms later in the summer when deadheaded.
    Learn More
  3.  Calamagrostis acutiflora Karl Foerster, Calamagrostis acutiflora Karl Foerster, Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass with Rudbeckia

    The world's most popular ornamental grass, 'Karl Foerster' has a strong upright habit and blooms with showy flowers that ripen to tawny seed heads that decorate the plant through the...

    Learn More
    Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Karl Foerster Feather Reed Grass Calamagrostis acutiflora Karl Foerster
    As low as $11.99 Sale $9.59
    Per Plant - 3.25" Pot
    The world's most popular ornamental grass, 'Karl Foerster' has a strong upright habit and blooms with showy flowers that ripen to tawny seed heads that decorate the plant through the fall and winter months.
    Learn More
  4. Red and Orange Lonicera sempervirens Major Wheeler, Lonicera sempervirens Major Wheeler, Major Wheeler Honeysuckle Vine

    Major Wheeler Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a non-stop bloomer coloring the garden from late spring through the summer with showy clusters of orange-red flowers. Considered to be the lon...

    Learn More
    Major Wheeler Honeysuckle Vine Major Wheeler Honeysuckle Vine Lonicera sempervirens Major Wheeler
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $12.99 Sale $12.34
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Major Wheeler Honeysuckle (Lonicera) is a non-stop bloomer coloring the garden from late spring through the summer with showy clusters of orange-red flowers. Considered to be the longest blooming variety of honeysuckle and a superior flower for the hummingbirds. 2010 Plant of the Year.
    Learn More
  5. Echinacea purpurea Magnus, Photo Credit by Walter's Garden

    Magnus is a distinctive, vigorous and large growing cone flower cultivar. The bright reddish-pink petals of its huge flowers are held flat as they radiate out from the cone, instead ...

    Learn More
    Magnus Echinacea Magnus Purple Coneflower Echinacea purpurea Magnus
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $10.49 Sale $9.97
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Magnus is a distinctive, vigorous and large growing cone flower cultivar. The bright reddish-pink petals of its huge flowers are held flat as they radiate out from the cone, instead of curving backwards as is typical of most coneflowers.
    Learn More
  6. Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition, Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass

    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flower...

    Learn More
    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048
    As low as $11.99 Sale $11.39
    Per Plant - 2.5" Pot

    Blonde Ambition Blue Grama Grass (Bouteloua gracilis Blonde Ambition PP#22,048) is a native ornamental grass with a completely new look. The horizontal eyelash-like chartreuse flowers appear in mid-summer and age to blonde seed heads by fall. They are held on the plant right through the winter to provide many months of interest. 2011 Plant of The Year

    Learn More
  7. Yellow Helianthus maximiliana Santa Fe, Helianthus maximiliana Santa Fe, Maximilian's Sunflower

    Exclusive. Santa Fe is a selected form of Maximilian's Sunflower chosen for its huge, bright yellow daisies that tightly pack the 6 foot tall flowering spike. A tough perennial for d...

    Learn More
    Santa Fe Maximilian's Sunflower (Helianthus) Santa Fe Maximilian's Sunflower Helianthus maximiliana Santa Fe
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $10.99 Sale $10.44
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    Exclusive. Santa Fe is a selected form of Maximilian's Sunflower chosen for its huge, bright yellow daisies that tightly pack the 6 foot tall flowering spike. A tough perennial for difficult growing conditions, it blooms in mid-September. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric). A High Country Gardens introduction.
    Learn More
  8. Red Salvia greggii Furman's Red, Salvia greggii Furman's Red, Furman's Red Texas Sage

    2005 Plant Select Winner. 24-36" tall x 18" wide. Furman's Red is one of the most cold hardy of the native Salvia greggii family. Blooming in late spring and again in the fall, the p...

    Learn More
    Furman's Red Texas Salvia Furman's Red Texas Sage Salvia greggii Furman's Red
    Sale Price I Save 5%
    $10.99 Sale $10.44
    Per Plant - 5" Deep Pot
    2005 Plant Select Winner. 24-36" tall x 18" wide. Furman's Red is one of the most cold hardy of the native Salvia greggii family. Blooming in late spring and again in the fall, the plant covers itself with bright red flowers that attract the hummingbirds from miles around. Sweetly aromatic foliage too. A 2005 Plant Select winner. Drought resistant/drought tolerant plant (xeric).
    Learn More