How to Build a Bird Sanctuary in Your Backyard

How to Build a Bird Sanctuary in Your Backyard

Establishing a bird sanctuary in your backyard offers many benefits to you and the wild birds in your area. An up-close experience with nature by watching the intricate lives of Blue Jays, Cardinals, Sparrows, Thrushes, and other songbirds brings a sense of calm tranquility to your garden while providing certain needs to the local ecosystem. Landscaping choices have a meaningful effect and are about establishing a balance in the garden. A balance our feathered friends need now more than ever. 

Studies have shown the bird population in North America has dropped 30% since 1970, which means almost three billion birds have vanished from our forests and backyards. Your landscape is your outdoor sanctuary, a place of peace. With careful plant choices, it can not only beautify your view but also become a safe haven for the native bird population. The winged citizens of our neighborhoods can be easy to overlook, but their contribution to the local ecosystem is invaluable. In this article, you’ll learn the benefits of planting a bird sanctuary, resources for finding the best native plants for your area, and the many Audubon® Native Plants to look for! 

What is the difference between benefiting birds and attracting birds?

There is an important difference between benefitting birds and attracting birds to your landscape. Attracting birds can be easy; instinctually, birds need a place to perch, a branch to land on as they pass through. Where truly benefiting our winged friends lies within our garden and native plant species. 

Native trees and plants provide an overwhelming amount of resources to our bird population with fruit, seeds, nectar, shelter, and especially insect food. Insects are an important part of a bird's diet, and 90% of insects can only feed from a native plant. Birds need a safe passage to find food, shelter, and be able to raise their young. Without native plants, we don't have insects, and without insects, we will continue to lose our birds. For example, a Native Oak Tree can support over 500 species of insects and birds, whereas a non-native ginkgo tree only supports 5 species. 

Attracting a bird, and seeing their beauty is one thing, but benefitting and seeing their population thrive with just a few changes in your garden, that is what truly matters. So let's do both, attract and benefit the birds! 

How Can a Natural Habitat Help More than a Birdhouse or Bird Bath?

Perhaps you recently set up a new bird bath or bird feeder, though it's been weeks, and the birds just don't seem interested. Bird baths may be an attractive addition to your garden though often they can be too slippery for the birds to stand on, the water may be too deep for them to bathe in, too far from cover, or worst of all - no native plants in sight near the water. With bird feeders, you need to be a bit more careful; while they can provide food during migration seasons and harsh winters, they can possibly spread disease. 

It's hard to justify removing native habitats only to set up a bird house or bath. If you want the picturesque look of a bird bath or house, you'll also need the vibrance and lush surroundings of native plants around it. Here are a few reasons why even the best bird house won’t outshine native plants:

  • Native plants are the primary host for most insects that are an essential protein source for birds.
  • Fruits, seeds, and nuts produced by these plants are also vital to a bird's diet, providing the energy they need for long migrations.
  • Since they are a sought-after food source, native plants and trees are also the main building blocks for shelters and nests. 

Let’s Get into Creating a Bird Habitat in Your Backyard!

Step 1: Learn About The Native Species In your Backyard

Backyard birding is educational for the whole family as an ecological learning opportunity. If you’re new to bird identification, observing the frequent flyers in your area can help you learn what may be the most beneficial to plant in your garden. 

The National Audubon Society is a great tool to find the birds in your region! Learn about the different kinds of feeding and nesting behaviors of the birds in your area as well as their song! 

Now that you have identified the birds in your region, you can begin the joy of revamping your landscape with colorful native trees and plants! Bower & Branch is the only official partner of the National Audubon Society. We have dedicated an entire selection of Audubon-approved Native Trees and Plants, grown neonicotinoid free. Grown exclusively through Bower & Branch for our Audubon Plants for Birds Program.

Shop All Audubon Plants For Birds

Step 2: Choose the Best Plants for your Backyard

  • The National Audubon Society offers an amazing resource for finding the native plants in your area. Explore their Native Plant Database, using your zip code, learning about the best plants for the birds in your area!
  • Select an area of your landscape that could be easy to convert into a native garden that allows room for growth, considering the amount of sunlight or shade, soil type, and precipitation this area receives. 
  • Plan out the variety of shapes, sizes, and colors you like and know will go well with your existing landscape, giving structure and texture to your native bird sanctuary. 
  • Take note of the resources in your yard - native trees or shrubs that have already been planted, and nurture those assets.
  • Tell your friends and neighbors! Inspire them to create a bird sanctuary in their backyard - making it a joy for the whole community to be a part of!

There are many advantages to growing native plants; they adapt to your soil quickly, require less watering, and benefit the birds! At Bower & Branch, we make it easy when you shop with your zip code; we only show the plants that are native to your planting region to help ensure your garden flourishes into a healthy bird sanctuary. 

Let’s start with color! Native Perennials and Grasses:

Enjoy watching birds and hummingbirds all summer long? Attract the vibrant colors and graceful presence of blue jays and cardinals by planting:

    • Native Coneflower
    • Indigo
    • Hydrangea
    • Native Trumpet Vine
    • Bee-Balm
    • Phlox,
    • Cardinal Flower
Shop Audubon Native Perennials

Audubon Native Ornamental Grasses bring color and texture to your landscape, swaying in the wind to the tune of their own song. Attracting seed-eating and nesting birds to your backyard, and often host an abundance of butterflies as well! Benefit the birds while bringing an elegant meadow effect to your landscape with:

  • Audubon Native Little Bluestem
  • Switchgrass
  • Leatherwood Fern
  • Culver's Root
Shop All Audubon Native Grasses

Sweet Treats! Audubon Native Edible Plants For Birds:

When winter is scarce for food, or just a delicious summer treat, berries are irresistible for the birds! The following native edible shrubs will entice birds like American Robins, Mockingbirds, Cedar Waxwings, and Finches:

  • Elderberry
  • Black Chokeberry
  • Winterberry
  • Blueberry
  • Coralberry

These berries provide calories and crucial nutrients to our feathered friends throughout the season, especially when they need it most during those cold months. They are bursting with colorful flowering blossoms in spring; planting fruiting bushes like Red Chokeberry on the edges of your bird sanctuary creates a dynamic backdrop of color through the seasons, and a rich asset to the birds they won't be able to resist!

Shop Audubon Native Edible Plants For Birds

Working your way up to a vertical vision with Audubon Native Trees!

Planting Native Trees such as Native Oak Trees, Native Evergreen Trees, Native Flowering Trees, or Native Shade Trees provide shelter, protection, a safe nesting place, and resources for building a nest or food. For smaller landscapes, Native Redbud Trees, Native Dogwood Trees, and Native Birch Trees will also benefit the birds and provide seasons of bright flowers to your garden! Planting a Native Tree in your bird sanctuary can become the focal point as Native Perennials and Shrubs surround it. You can also create a woodland setting by planting in groups for a dense meadow effect. 

Birds have a diet of insects, worms, nuts, seeds, nectar, and berries - seeking out these nutrients for themselves and their nest of begging beaks. The more native plants you can offer, the more birds you will benefit and attract!

Step 3: Order, Deliver and Plant!

Bower & Branch offers a wide variety of Audubon-approved Native Plants for Birds. We are devoted to the growth of native trees and plants to beautify local landscapes - beginning with our homes and communities. We are here to help guide you through the joy of establishing a bird sanctuary right in your own backyard, and no yard is too small! If you need assistance or have any questions, our Plant Whispering Team is here to help. Please do not hesitate to give us a call at 1-866-873-3888 to assist you with any questions you may have!

  • Ordering: Once you’ve found exactly what you’ve been looking for, there are multiple ways to place your order. You can simply add trees and plants to your basket and begin the secure checkout process through our website. Or, if you’d like, you can give us a call at 1-866-873-3888 to have a Plant Whisperer place your order for you and answer any questions you may have.

  • Guarantee: Bower & Branch strives to achieve 100% customer satisfaction with all plants and trees. Our quality local growers, special handling and delivery process allows us to offer a Three Year Guarantee on all size X-Large (A) trees and up. If, within 90 days from the original purchase date, you become unsatisfied with your purchase, we will happily replace the tree or plant for you.

  • Delivery: We safely ship your trees and plants directly to your door! Many of our Audubon Native Trees are too large to fit in a box; they are ready to make their presence known in your bird sanctuary. Size X-Large (A) Trees are delivered to your door by truck with our expert team. Smaller plants and shrubs are shipped in a plant-safe designed box by a local carrier.

  • Planting: Once your Native Trees and Plants arrive, it’s time to get planting! Creating the bird sanctuary of your dreams! A good rule of thumb is to start with the biggest tree or plant. Planting the largest size first, then work your way through the garden bed to the smaller items. Creating an easy and eye-catching effect with your woodland or meadow bird sanctuary!

Step 4: Enjoy your Backyard Sanctuary!

Attracting and benefiting colorful birds to your bird sanctuary is easier than you may think. They will quickly find their way to your property by simply planting the things they need. The whole family can also benefit, teaching your children about the importance of birds, as essential pollinators and dispersing seeds of many plants, establishing even more native plants. Bird watching is a joyous and relaxing pastime that both enthusiasts and those casually sitting on their back patio enjoy. 

Having birds around adds beauty to your surroundings. And now, you can easily turn your backyard into a bird sanctuary. Filled with tranquility, peace, and lush color - watch it come to life, making friends with the winged citizens of our neighborhoods!

Shop Audubon Native Plants For Birds

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