Welcome Weary Winged Travelers

Our flying friends are coming from near and far. Offer them respite with fresh water, a bountiful buffet and a safe place to stay.

October is migration month for bees, butterflies and birds. Of course, I am including migrations from 100 feet to 10,000 miles. The question I pose is what should you have in your landscape to make it hospitable for these travelers?


Adequate fresh water is the single most important ingredient in the hospitable landscape. Keep bowls and baths clean by changing the water 2-4 times a week. Continuously flowing water devices will draw in all sorts of weary travelers. A word of advice: keep vegetation away from watering sites so baths aren’t interrupted by furry and feathered neighbors.


Feeders, both seed and liquid, are much like fast food franchisees: adequate, but not very healthy. Instead plant seed, fruit, foliage and nectar-producing plants to provide an excellent repast.

  • Seeds such as sunflower, lantana, coneflower, Indian blanket, daisy are high in fat and calories for long trips.
  • Mealworms and special food blend mixes will satisfy the high mileage insectivorous travelers.
  • Foliage like milkweed, parsley, dill, passion vine, ornamental and native grasses are helpful for mostly butterflies looking for food and places to “hang around” to pupate.
  • Fruit including hackberry, spiny hackberry, condalia and American beautyberry offer quick, high sugar snacks.
  • Nectar from lantanas, mistflower, penta, sunflower, zinnia, butterfly bush, skullcap, crossvine, butterfly vine, firecracker fern, firebush, red yucca, esperanza and desert willow provide a wide variety of tastes and colors. Butterflies prefer broad, flat flower surfaces, while hummingbirds and some butterflies prefer cone-shaped flowers.


All travelers need shelter during migration. A suburban style lawn and trees don’t offer much at all. But multilayered hedges consisting of yaupon, elbow bush, cenizo and condalia or juniper with water and food within 100-150 feet — now that’s luxury accommodations for weary travelers.


Picture of Mark Peterson
Mark Peterson
Mark A. Peterson was a conservation project coordinator for San Antonio Water System before retiring. With over 30 years of experience as an urban forester and arborist, Mark is probably the only person you know who actually prunes trees for fun. When not expounding on the benefits of trees and limited lawns, you're likely to find him hiking San Antonio's wilderness parks or expounding on the virtues of geography and history to his friends.
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