For the Birds

Picture yourself sitting outdoors in a beautifully landscaped yard. You may be reading or enjoying your favorite beverage, feet up, relaxed. Will the neighbors stop by later for a backyard barbecue? Or is your favorite garden spot where you enjoy the peace and quiet of a new day. Listen to your surroundings. Do you hear the birds?

Retired Naturalist Jack McRae wants to help us create a habitat for the birds. His talk this Saturday, August 4th at 1 pm will entertain and inform on what makes gardens special to attract and encounter birds in a backyard on a regular basis.

The right habitat provides food, water, shelter, and space. To draw the birds to your yard, you must think about the food chain. A nice canopy tree provides shelter and food for the birds. “In spring, migrant birds are eating insects that are eating the emerging leaves,” says Jack.

Robin nest in a tree.

A native Red Oak (Quercus rubra) has a fast growth rate and produces great fall color. Other native trees to consider in your landscape design for birdwatching are the Dogwood (Cornus), Tuliptree (Liriodendron), Birch (Betula), Crabapple (Malus) and the American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana).

Birds eat berries as well as insects. The Serviceberry (Amelanchier) as a tree or shrub and Spicebush (Lindera) are a favorite shelter for Robins and Catbirds. If you want Cardinals, Nuthatches, and Goldfinches, then you put in a nice diversity of plants.”

Goldfinch eating coneflower seeds.

Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus) is a vigorous vine with red leaves and bluish-black fruit. It gives a nice vertical interest to a garden trellis or brick wall and is an excellent food source for birds. Finches are spotted near perennials Brown-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia), Coneflower (Echinacea) and Yarrow (Achillea). Hummingbirds flit about the fragrant Bee Balm (Monarda) and Milkweed (Asclepias).

Left: Coneflowers, Liatris, & Rudbeckia. Right: Rudbeckia

Birds will search for water when it is dry. If you want to attract them to your yard, give them a water source in your yard. Birdbaths and koi ponds are terrific additions. Make sure the water source is maintained to not attract mosquitos.

How we design our outdoor living space affects the ecosystem. Did you know cardinals moved north due to people landscaping their yards? Jack shares how they were rare in Illinois in the 1900’s. “We feed them all winter with birdfeeders and sunflower seeds. Human interest has increased their range. Coopers Hawks have also started liking our backyards and that sort of completes that whole food chain.”

Aurora Location

2000 Montgomery Road,

Aurora, IL 60504

Phone. 630-820-8088

Naperville Location

25w471 Plank Road,

Naperville, IL 60563

Phone. 630-355-4000

Spring Hours

March 30-June 30

Monday-Friday: 9am-7pm

Saturday: 9am-5pm

Sunday: 11am-5pm

Memorial Day Hours

Monday, May 27


Growing for the future with
right plantsĀ in right places.