Carolina chickadee. Photo Credit: Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware

Carolina chickadee. Photo Credit: Doug Tallamy, University of Delaware

Linking Decline of Birds to Nonnative Plants

For this month’s sustainability tip I refer you to the recent publication New Smithsonian Study Links Declines in Suburban Backyard Birds to Presence of Nonnative Plants,

Highlights include:

  • Insect-eating birds depend upon high-calorie, high-protein insects, mostly caterpillars and spiders – to feed their young.
  • More than 90 percent of insects that feed on plants (herbivorous) only eat one or a few native species, not plant species introduced from Europe or Asia that are commonly planted in our suburban yards.
  • The plant species needed for a yard to support a sustainable population of Carolina Chickadees – a common resident backyard bird that weighs about 4 ounces – must be more than 70 percent native species.
  • The observations of the study of 160 yards in the Washington, D.C. area are transferable to other geographic locations and applicable to other resident birds and well as other migratory and endangered species.

The next five months or so offers lots of time to plan and research changes we want to make to our gardens next spring. Go native!