Landscape a Landing for Migratory Birds

Seth Patterson

A few well-chosen plants can make the difference between feast and famine for our feathered friends. Go native with a touch of wildscape and bring on the birds!

Spring is always a fabulous time to be in Texas. The weather is cooler, wild flowers are blooming, and our magnificent diversity of migratory birds (pdf) are dropping in for a visit as they make their long, arduous journey north. 

Bexar County is fortunate to be smack dab in the middle of the American Central Flyway and, with its rich ecological diversity, acts as an important stopping off point for many bird species migrating north in the spring and back south in the fall. 

But not everyone knows about or notices these spectacular seasonal visitors passing through. One big reason is our urban landscapes. While many of us set out seed feeders and bird baths, not all birds are seed eaters and not all are attracted to bird baths set out in the middle of an open lawn. 

The incredible diversity of insect eating birds that live in, or migrate through Bexar County every year, is truly astonishing. Yet many of these species will outright avoid the green grass yards of our city because the insect diversity is severely stunted in these sterile, monocultured landscapes. There simply isn’t enough biological diversity to support their dietary needs. 

So, what can we do? It’s very simple — get rid of the grass and diversify! Native shrubs, bushes, trees and perennials provide home and habitat for a rich diversity of insects and other invertebrates which, in turn, provide a perfect food source for an amazing assortment of birds. 

What’s more, native wildscapes are drought tolerant and well adapted to our climate with little to no supplemental watering needing. Excessive watering will be a thing of the past as you enrich the ecological health and diversity of our city at the same time! 

In transforming your yard, you will start to notice a greater abundance of wildlife appearing to take advantage of this new biodiversity. Come spring and fall, if you watch closely, you may just notice a striking and colorful mixed flock of warblers flitting through your new shrubs and trees, moving in mass as they seek out the rich food source your native landscape now offers. 

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