Native Plants & Wildlife
Native plants are crucial for a complete backyard wildlife habitat eco-system. According to National Wildlife Federation, native plants may support 10 to 50 times as many species of native wildlife as non-native plants.
Northwest Native Plant Data Base
Washington State University has a Plant Identification Data Base for gardening in Western Washington. Besides having the data base, you can also click on their "Plant Association" section to find plants for shade, sun, etc. There is also a "Search" section.
Plants to Attract Birds and Other Wildlife
Our favorite site to find out what plants attract what wildlife is Wally's Wildlife Habitat Recommendations. You can scroll through the list of native plants and find ones particular to song birds or hummingbirds, or wildlife.
Benefits of Planting Natives
Native plants, once established, require no irrigation or fertilization. In urban areas, lawns can use 30 percent of the water consumption on the East Coast and up to 60 percent on the West Coast. Native plants have deep root systems and therefore significantly reduce water runoff and flooding.
They are resistant to most pests and diseases providing low maintenance. Every year in the United States, over 70 million pounds of pesticides are applied to lawns which run off lawns and can contaminate rivers and lakes.
They reduce air pollution because they don't require mowing. One gas-powered lawnmower emits 11 times the air pollution of a new car for each hour of operation which contributes to global warming. Native plants remove carbon from the air.
Native plants provide food and shelter to wildlife and attract a greater variety of birds, butterflies and other wildlife than traditional lawns. Planting a large variety of native species also increases the opportunity to attract uncommon or rare species to your backyard wildlife habitat.
Cornell's Biological Control: A Guide to Natural Enemies in North America is an excellent reference with photos and extensive information and it is also a tutorial on the concept and practice of biological control and integrated pest management (IPM).
On the mornings that had once throbbed with the
dawn chorus of robins, catbirds, doves, jays, wrens,
and scores of other bird voices,
there was now no sound;
only silence lay over the fields and woods and marsh.
Our migratory songbird populations have decreased dramatically over the years. Much of it is caused by loss of habitat from urban sprawl and the removal of our forests in North, Central and South America.
According to the USGS Breeding Bird Survey, the populations of 76 songbirds in the U.S. have significantly decreased since 1966 - some up to a 90 percent decline.
Help prevent a "Silent Spring" by creating a Backyard Wildlife Habitat with native plants, supporting land conservation programs including purchasing shade-grown coffee, controlling free-range cats, keeping your cat indoors and informing others of this peril. Help keep the sounds of spring alive so our children's children can continue to see and hear the wonders of nature in our own backyards.