In urbanized areas such as much of Santa Clara County, our gardens are a vital part of the ecosystem on which birds depend for habitat and food. The birds so many of us love to see and hear in our gardens eat insects and grubs that have adapted over millennia in partnership with native plants. As such, native plants are the main hosts of the insects that native birds depend on.
Research by University of Delaware professor Doug Tallamy and his students on the connections between birds, bugs, and plants, has repeatedly demonstrated that lawns and nonnative ornamental trees and shrubs provide almost no food resources for birds, and that native plants, even in urban areas, can provide the food sources necessary to sustain birds. Their work has led to a series of books and lectures on “Bringing Nature Home” and practical guidance for replacing lawns and ornamental plantings with native gardens that can attract birds as well as pollinators. (Not to mention save water!)
By Zooey Elsa Diggory, Senior Biologist, Santa Clara Valley Water District