As birds head down the Atlantic Flyway from their summer breeding grounds, some stop in Virginia to spend the winter, and others continue hundreds or even thousands of miles further south. Food and shelter are needed along the way, things that may be hard to come by as the birds pass over an increasingly urbanized area that contains a third of the human U.S. population.
Obviously, roads, buildings, and parking lots do not provide the necessities of life to birds. Less obvious is the sad fact that our country’s largest ‘crop’ – turf grass – is also of minimal benefit to wildlife, as are the other popular landscaping plants which have been introduced from other continents.
We need not force the birds to look down on a food desert. We can provide what they need right on our own properties. By planting a variety of native trees, shrubs, vines, grasses, and perennials, we can furnish the nutritious seeds, nuts, fruits, and berries that are needed to sustain the birds through all four seasons. Those same native plants sustain the insects that songbirds feed to their babies in the spring.
Find out the details of what and how to plant by visiting the Plant NOVA Natives website. And check out this short video of a few of our part-time Northern Virginia neighbors.