For the Birds, Butterflies, and Hummingbirds

By Mary Free, Certified Master Gardener

Creating Inviting Habitats Cover by Mary Free

Creating Inviting Habitats by Mary Free

One of the resources featured on the poster Pollinator Protection Vital to Urban Agriculture  is Creating Inviting Habitats.

This Virginia Cooperative Extension publication examines the habitat requirements for butterflies and birds common to our local area. In fact, most of the plants and wildlife were photographed in Arlington, Alexandria, and Fairfax, Virginia.

A mMonarch caterpillar eats the leaves of Asclepias tuberosa and a chrysalis develops at the the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden in Arlington. An adult mMonarch feeds on lLantana at Simpson Gardens in Alexandria. Learn more about the butterfly life cycle, host plants preferred by specific butterfly species, and types of nectar plants that attract butterflies in Creating Inviting Habitats. © Mary Free

A Monarch caterpillar eats the leaves of Asclepias tuberosa and a chrysalis develops at the Glencarlyn Library Community Garden in Arlington. An adult Monarch feeds on Lantana at Simpson Gardens in Alexandria. Learn more about the butterfly life cycle, host plants preferred by specific butterfly species, and types of nectar plants that attract butterflies in Creating Inviting Habitats. © Mary Free

Creating Inviting Habitats is especially relevant during National Pollinator Week — June 18–24 — as well as in the 100th year of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. The centennial anniversary of this act has prompted National Geographic, Audubon, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and BirdLife International to designate 2018 the Year of the Bird. They have teamed together with more than 150 organizations to share information on how our changing environment affects birds and actions you can take each month to help and protect birds.

This ruby-throated hummingbird feeds on salvia late in the season in the Sunny Garden at Bon Air Park in Arlington. See Creating Inviting Habitats for a picture chart of Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds during the spring, summer, and fall. © Mary Free

This ruby-throated hummingbird feeds on salvia late in the season in the Sunny Garden at Bon Air Park in Arlington. See Creating Inviting Habitats for a picture chart of Flowers that Attract Hummingbirds during the spring, summer, and fall. © Mary Free

One way you can help both birds and butterflies is to create inviting habitats on your property where they can thrive. How do you attract birds and butterflies to your yard or garden? Like people, birds and butterflies require food, water,and shelter. Like people, they prefer their food and water be close to where they live. And like people, they favor certain types of homes and certain types of food. If you plant to meet their needs, they will flock or flutter to your garden.

House wrens are ideal candidates for close-to-house nest boxes like this one hanging from a dogwood tree on thea patio of an Arlington townhouse. Creating Inviting Habitats contains a chart showing Nest Box Dimensions for various bird species. © Mary Free

House wrens are ideal candidates for close-to-house nest boxes like this one hanging from a dogwood tree on the patio of an Arlington townhouse. Creating Inviting Habitats contains a chart showing Nest Box Dimensions for various bird species. © Mary Free

Although house sparrows may be fun to watch as they tend to feed and bathe in flocks, they are considered pests. Creating Inviting Habitats does not have an answer on how to rid your yard of these non-native pests, but it does provide information on birdbaths–both water and dust. © Mary Free

Although house sparrows may be fun to watch as they tend to feed and bathe in flocks, they are considered pests. Creating Inviting Habitats does not have an answer on how to rid your yard of these non-native pests, but it does provide information on bird baths–both water and dust. © Mary Free

Besides information on native plants that attract birds and butterflies, Creating Inviting Habitats provides an overview of planning your garden space to accommodate them as well as additional resources and references. It is available in PDF, ePub and iBook formats from  Virginia Cooperative Extension or can be downloaded free on iTunes.

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