Audubon creates native plant database for locals

The database will help locals attract birds and maintain healthy populations.

  • Monday, February 26, 2018 11:30am
  • Life
Audubon aims to keep migratory bird populations healthy as Spring inches closer. Courtesy of Mick Thompson

Audubon aims to keep migratory bird populations healthy as Spring inches closer. Courtesy of Mick Thompson

2018 is officially the Year of the Bird and with spring arriving shortly and bird migration on its way, Eastside Audubon invited bird 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. Eastside Audubon will soon announce a partnership with Washington Native Plant Society, in which the organizations have identified a series of native plants developed with Western Washington in mind.

“Ninety-six percent of land birds feed insects and spiders to their chicks,” said Dr. John Rowden, director of community conservation for the National Audubon Society. “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.”


Through 12 months of storytelling, research and conservation efforts, the Year of the Bird is a partnership between the National Audubon Society, National Geographic, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, BirdLife International and dozens of other partners. Participants will examine how the changing environment is driving dramatic losses among bird species around the globe and highlight how to help bring birds back.

Participating organizations include nonprofit and conservation groups, state and federal agencies, zoos, nature centers, and ornithological societies that are working together to raise the visibility of birds and inspire action through #BirdYourWorld throughout 2018. Learn more at


Plants for Birds is a program of the National Audubon Society’s Coleman and Susan Burke Center for Native Plants. Audubon protects birds and their habitats throughout the Americas using advocacy, education and on-the-ground conservation.

Gardens are outdoor sanctuaries for birds, insects and other wildlife. Every spring, migrating birds visit local yards looking for nourishment from our gardens and places to raise their chicks. Adding native plants to a yard, balcony, container garden, rooftop or public space, not only attracts more birds but gives them the best chance of survival in the face of climate change and urban development.

Many 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 can even become invasive.

“Birds and native plants are made for each other thanks to millions of years of evolution,” Rowden said. “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.”

Among the plants that Eastside Audubon recommends for wildlife are salmonberry, Indian plum, Salal, tall Oregon grape, chokecherry, and Pacific dogwood. For more information about native plants or a complete list of Eastside Audubon’s recommended plants, contact or call 425-576-8805.

Audubon’s state programs, nature centers, chapters and partners reach millions of people each year to inform, inspire and unite diverse communities in conservation action. Since 1905, the nonprofit’s vision has been a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Visit or follow @audubonsociety on Twitter to learn more about Audubon’s conservation efforts.

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