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brown creeper_Frank Lospalluto

Biodiversity for the Birds

brown creeper_Frank Lospalluto
Brown creeper Photo: Frank Lospalluto

Want to support bird populations in your yard or on your land? Plant native plants!

New research has shown that the prevalence of non-native landscape and garden plants reduces the population of insectivorous birds. Because most birds rely on insects for food for themselves and their young, and because many insects are unable to use non-native plants, birds are less prevalent in areas with high percentages of non-native plants. 

The research has shown that the threshold for habitat is 70%. That is, if a yard contains at least 70% native plants it will provide enough insects for food for viable populations of birds.

yellow warbler_Frank Lospalluto
Yellow warbler Photo: Frank Lospalluto

As humans alter landscapes and transform native plant communities into developments with non-native plant landscaping and gardens, there is less and less habitat for insects, and less and less habitat for birds and many other native species. Plant biodiversity is important for insects like pollinators, as well as for all wildlife, including birds that need native plants in order to sustain healthy populations. Even in areas where human infrastructure dominates, planting native plants is vital to support local food webs.

Although the newly published research has been done by researchers associated with the University of Delaware, the implications are far reaching and applicable to the western U.S. as well.

Check out this article in Science Daily about this new research by Desiree L. Narango, Douglas W. Tallamy and Peter P. Marra:

You can also  read the abstract or pay to view the full paper through the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences:

bushtit_Frank Lospalluto
Bushtit Photo: Frank Lospalluto