Providing Safe Food
Organic gardening is another essential ingredient in any landscape that welcomes birds and butterflies. One reason is that organic gardens are teeming with insects and other organisms that birds enjoy. Many of the insects that thrive in an organic garden are beneficial: that is, they eat other insects and keep the populations in check.
Birds will help control garden pests, along with insects such as gnats and mosquitos. Instead of waging war against pests and diseases with an arsenal of chemicals, organic gardening nudges the ecosystem into a healthy balance. Preventive techniques like building healthy soil are an important first line of defense against pests.
A working knowledge of organic gardening is important to a gardener intent on attracting birds and butterflies. Avoid the use of pesticides in your yard. Many insecticides remove all insects, which serve as the prey base for insectivorous birds. A poisoned insect will in turn poison the bird. Using plants native to your region reduces the need for pesticide use since the native plants are resistant to local pests and diseases.
Mockingbirds, warblers, vireos, wrens, and many others relish insect pests. Provide splashes of color in different areas of the garden. Birds and butterflies are highly visual and are attracted by brightly colored flowers and fruit. Hummingbirds are especially fond of red and orange tubular flowers. Red flowers will attract birds during migration.
Use native grasses as accent plants and in wildlife meadow patches. Many birds eat seeds of native grasses. Consider letting your garden go to seed rather than dead-heading flowers and removing spent plants. Doing so provides a wealth of nutritious food for many species of seed-eating birds. To find out which plants grow best in your area and will best fill your specific needs, consult a local gardening book, or nursery.
Plants native to your region are excellent for birds, because they are familiar and accepted as food sources, shelter, and nest sites. Native fruits and berries are nutritious, and they ripen on a schedule that coincides with natural needs at nesting and migration times, or during winter months. They are also perfectly sized for birds to eat, unlike some improved varieties or exotic plants whose fruits are unpalatable or too big.