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A little birdie told me ... he'd like to stay.

With spring in full swing and birds back from migration, the National Audubon Society, New York, invites nature enthusiasts to grow bird-friendly native plants at home. Through Audubon's Plants for Birds public online database, anyone nationwide can access a list of native plants that benefit their favorite local bird species by just typing in their zip code.

"Did you know that 96% of land birds feed insects and spiders to their chicks? A single nest of chickadee babies may scarf down as many as 9,000 caterpillars before they fledge. Native tree species are better for birds because they host many more caterpillars; native oaks support more than 550 kinds of butterflies and moths. Non-native Ginkgo trees?--only five," says Tod Winston, Plants for Birds program associate.

Gardens are outdoor sanctuaries for birds, insects, and other wildlife. Every spring, birds visit our yards looking for nourishment from gardens and places to raise their chicks. By adding native plants to one's yard, balcony, container garden, rooftop, or public space, anyone, anywhere not only can attract more birds, but give them the best chance of survival in the face of climate change and urban development.

A number of landscaping plants available in nurseries are exotic species from other countries. Many are prized for qualities that make them poor food sources for wildlife. They generally also require more chemicals and water to thrive, increasing maintenance time, costs, and environmental hazards. Some even can become invasive.

"Birds and native plants are made for each other thanks to millions of years of evolution," explains John Rowden, director of community conservation. "As plants grow and bloom earlier because of warming temperatures, there is a growing mismatch between bloom times and the arrival of birds that depend on them. Habitat provided by native plants can help climate-threatened birds adapt and survive."

Keep common birds common with these native plants this spring:

* Sunflowers, elderberries, and serviceberries attract Cardinals, Grosbeaks, and Tanagers.

* Birches and sumacs attract Chickadees and Titmice.

* Composite flowers, spruces, hemlocks, and pines attract Goldfinch and Pine Siskin.

* Honeysuckle vines, penstemons, milkweeds, and sages attract Hummingbirds.

* Blackberries and wild grasses attract sparrows.

* Oaks and beeches attract Warblers and Vireos.

* Pines, hickories, oaks, and cherries attract Woodpeckers.

Caption: Hummingbird

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Title Annotation:Your Life
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2017
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