Tag Archives: native landscaping

Birds Love Native Trees

Illustration: birds flying around tree with fall colorsNative trees — species that are native to a particular geographic area — help protect water quality through their deep, well-adapted root systems that naturally increase the ability of soil to absorb, treat and retain water. These trees are also essential for supporting our region’s diverse bird populations. Native trees produce more insect prey for birds than non-natives ― and 96 percent  of birds raise their young on insects. They are crucial to preserving habitats, and can support 35 times more insect-eating birds than non-natives. Ever-increasing population density in cities makes it more important to consider the impacts of the built environment on wildlife habitats. To promote avian biodiversity, urban areas must be suitable for both humans and wildlife.


Trees that birds love:

The following native trees attract both birds and beneficial insects in our region. Images and information used with permission from the GrowNative! program.

Downy Hawthorn, Crataegus mollis
Roughleaf Dogwood, Cornus asperifolia
Wild Plum - Prunus Americana
Sassafras, Sassafras albidum
Shingle Oak Quercus imbricaria

Because local insects did not evolve with non-native trees and plants, many lack the ability to overcome a non-native tree’s natural defenses and must feed elsewhere. Caterpillars, a fundamental food source for breeding birds, are one of the most specialized groups — over 90 percent of butterfly and moth larvae feed exclusively on certain plants. Currently, more than 80 percent of suburban areas are landscaped with Asian flora, leaving a food-barren environment for birds looking to find nourishment. When non-native trees replace native species, entire food webs can be disturbed by loss of adapted insects, wiping out sustenance for birds.

A study conducted through Smithsonian’s Neighborhood Nestwatch program found birds are more likely to build nests in yards dominated by native trees, and will fly farther to find grub if nest locations are not ideal. Although humans may find non-natives exotic and alluring choices for their landscapes, such choices can decrease birds’ survival and fitness, as many lack nutrient-dense seeds and fruit and may lure birds toward predators. Research by ecologist Amanda Rodewald found that chickadees nesting in invasive honeysuckle reared 20 percent fewer young due to increased predation during the breeding season. Non-native trees can be destructive to bird populations by disrupting natural selection.

Help protect habitats that allow birds to flourish by landscaping your yard with native trees. Birds, insects and many other species will thank you!

Visit the MARC Water Quality native plants page for more about native trees, including some that display fall color. »

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Don’t miss these November events!

Nov. 12–13: Installation and Maintenance of Stormwater Treatment Best Management Practices.

Water Quality LogoThis two-day workshop will demystify the most common components of stormwater treatment best management practices (BMPs). Learn from area experts who have experience designing, installing and maintaining the vegetative components of stormwater treatment BMPs.

The workshop is geared toward landscapers, subcontractors and general contractors currently working with stormwater treatment BMPs or those who would like to gain experience with these systems. Sessions will focus primarily on the most commonly installed practices in the metro area at this time — bioretention, rain gardens and native landscaping.

Learn more

Register now

 

Nov. 19:  Natural Resource Inventory

Be the first to experience new cutting-edge, high-resolution, land-cover data and explore the possibilities.

Local communities across the nation are including natural resource considerations into their planning processes. MARC has assembled the base data essential to integrated environmental planning. This workshop will provide the opportunity to see what new data is available, and how that information may be applied in a variety of contexts to achieve community goals like conserving natural areas, protecting air and water quality, and reducing urban heat islands.

Learn more

Register now

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