Trees cannot meet the needs of all urban birds. This is especially true of some of the non-native and exotic species commonly planted in California’s urban and suburban areas. Furthermore, some birds are primarily ground foragers and shrub nesters. It’s wonderful really, how wildlife partition and share the resources within their habitats. Reduced competition is the result. But what we’re leading to is that home gardens play an important role in the fitness, survival and abundance of birds and other wildlife that live or move through our developed landscape. This provides home gardeners opportunities with unimagined benefits.
What if we designed our garden (or a portion it) as a refueling and rest stop, and a shelter for resident and migratory birds, bees and butterflies? Our small patch of the world might even serve as a nursery. If neighbor joins neighbor, we’d amass a collection of habitat patches akin to a string of welcome mats across the landscape. A quilt comes to mind. These green links might enable some wildlife to safely travel through thousands of acres, even to and from the urban-open-space interface.
For many species, habitat connectivity and population abundance make the difference between which survive and which do not. Flora and fauna ultimately impact which ecological functions remain intact and which are lost. Among those provided by wildlife are insect management, seed dispersal and pollination. Now we can imagine the benefits of a network of gardens–greater numbers of species, great genetic diversity, and reduced risk of extinction.
We are delighted to feature this private property in San Diego, California where residents have decided to make their garden count.
Many books are available on creating gardens in California for birds and pollinators, but here are a few sources to get you started:
- How to create a bird friendly garden in Orange County. A pamphlet by Sea and Sage Audubon Society. A plant list is included here.
- Pollinators garden at the San Joaquin Wildlife Sanctuary. Plant List for a bird-friendly garden. A plant list is included here.
- California Native Plant Nurseries
- California Native Plant Society
- The Humane Gardener, by Nancy Lawson