The July issue of Audubon magazine features a real eye-opener: ‘Food Network’ makes an even stronger case for bird-friendly yards, which compensate mightily for habitat loss, especially if we include native plants. Doug Tallamy, professor of entomology at the University of Delaware, observed the activity of birds and their mainstay—insects—on a property overtaken with non-native plants. The insects passed up the exotics in favor of natives, which suggested that cultivars support fewer insects and therefore, fewer birds, than the native plants. He researched this phenomenon, and found that 96% of our North American birds raise their young on insects. The plant natives / insects / birds connection was undeniable, and he wrote the book 'Bringing Nature Home' as a call to action.
He writes, For the first time in its history, gardening has taken on a role that transcends the needs of the gardener … It is now within the power of individual gardeners to do something that we all dream of doing: to make a difference. In this case, the ‘difference’ will be to the future of the native plants and animals of North America, and the ecosystems that sustain them.
We can make a measurable difference almost immediately by planting a native nearby. A healthy yard is not really a ‘yard’ at all. It’s habitat, a sanctuary for wildlife and for you.