Habitat Heroes

Habitat Heroes: Plant for the birds

If you could do something positive for birds and other wildlife simply by changing the way you garden, would you be excited?

If you could do something positive for birds and other wildlife simply by changing the way you garden, would you be excited? If the changes would made your yard and the future healthier for you, your kids, grandkids and your pets, would you start now?

What if the changes saved water and money? And brought the joy of seeing new kinds of birds, butterflies and other wildlife right at home?

Wildscaping Provides Bird and Wildlife Habitat in Our Neighborhoods

That’s the promise of “wildscaping,” landscaping for wildlife. Wildscaping is not quite as simple as “Plant it and they will come,” but it’s pretty close.

Colorado Wildscapes Guide

Plants create bird and wildlife habitat: they provide food, shelter and materials for nesting. Birds recognize the habitat they need, and can find even small pockets in expanses of city and suburb.

If you plant turfgrass lawn, you’ll attract the few species that prefer lawns, including house sparrows and European starlings and perhaps, American robins.

If you plant even small patches of the kinds of plants that are native to your area, grouping them in ways that mimic the structure of the surrounding prairie, shrubland or forest, you’ll be surprised by the kinds and numbers of birds that will find the habitat you’ve provided.

Wildscaping Works

I know by experience that wildscaping works, and still, I’m continually surprised. One recent week, for example, I looked out my living room windows just as a western bluebird, a brand-new species for my formerly industrial, downtown yard, flew through the garden arbor.

Western bluebird

He lit on a clump of bunchgrass in my “unlawn,” a restored mountain prairie, and began poking about. A moment later, he lifted his head and called a few musical notes. As if he had given the “good eats here!” signal, another bluebird flew through the arbor, and then another and another.

Soon nine western bluebirds, the azure blue and rust males and the sober blue-gray females, fluttered around, poking at the bunchgrasses, picking out insects, and singing.

The bluebirds hung around for a couple of hours, feeding and singing, and then migrated on. That’s the reward of wildscaping: the delight of knowing that western bluebirds found a refueling stop in their long journey, right in my urban yard.

The logo of the Habitat Hero program from Audubon Rockies and Plant Select

Join the Flock... Be a Habitat Hero

That delight, and the joy in making your patch of world a better place for birds and the rest of us, is what Audubon Rockies’ new “Be a Habitat Hero!” challenge is about.

The program, a partnership with Plant Select, will kick off in mid-June. In the coming months, we'll be adding for information about wildscaping, profiles of plants and birds, a how-to guide (Colorado Wildscapes), and annual “Habitat Hero” awards recognizing outstanding wildscapes in home gardens and public spaces.

Take the pledge. Be a Habitat Hero: Plant a Wildscape. Do it for the birds, a healthy future—and for you.

How you can help, right now