“When I go looking for plants I know birds use, I can’t find them, either as seed or seedling,” Donnelly says. “I don’t think growers know there’s a burgeoning demand for this. We have to hook up them up with residents—there’s huge potential.“
In a recent Audubon article on the importance of native plants as they relate to the diet of birds, Dr. Roarke Donnelly was called upon to discuss the difficulty of finding potential fauna that meets the culinary criteria for our avian friends.
Donnelly has many forays into ornithology. His “outdoor classrooms” allow students to get hands-on experience and led to the creation of Oglethorpe’s bluebird camera. He also leads classes to the Blue Heron Nature Preserve for observation. Past environmental studies trips Donnelly has led to Hawaii and Sapelo Island, Ga. have been well-received by students.
It’s a basic idea, but it makes a whole lot of sense: Native plants are better for native birds than introduced flora. More specifically, because these trees and shrubs have evolved with the local wildlife, they harbor more insects or yield more berries and fruit than non-native plants, providing greater amounts of food for certain critters.
In recent years, the push to plant natives has been all the rage, and if your client is a bird-lover, there is new research providing even more support for native plants . One of the commonly cited reasons for homeowners to install native plants is because it helps the local wildlife, including pollinators and birds, as they have evolved and adapted to the same region together.