WILMINGTON — Do you care about the welfare of our backyard birds? They are declining in population on average of 1 percent per year due to habitat loss. Look at it another way: if the trend continues, when today’s children are grown up in 2067, they will have about 50 percent less birds around. Butterflies too. They might walk out in the yard and not see any birds around, not wake up to the Carolina Wren’s song. It would literally be a silent spring.
Many are optimists who think otherwise, and you may see signs of that around town. Literally, signs are popping up and declaring that “This habitat contains Native plants that are very important to the survival of birds and butterflies.”
Cape Fear Audubon, in partnership with Wild Bird & Garden, is furnishing these signs to put in your yard, showing that you care and are willing to do a little something to stem the decline.
Why Natives? 96 percent of our land birds (backyard birds) feed their young insects. There is a lot of protein contained in insects needed to develop feathers and muscles to fly away from the nest. Our little Carolina Chickadee needs around 5,000 insects to get the nestlings out the door. This happens over a 16 day period; these are very busy parents.
Now, insects are found mostly on native plants. By mostly, we mean a very high percentage. Only a few insects are not particular and will chew on some non-native plants.
Surprising to many is that the Azaleas you see all over Wilmington are not native. Go look at one closely and see if you can find where they have been chewing on it. You are highly unlikely to find insect activity at all. This goes for the Crepe Myrtle, Gardenia, Bradford Pear, and the Nandina. The Nandina is a special case of non-native. It is classified by the state as an invasive. Furthermore, its berries are poison to birds.
Back to the sign. If you wish to qualify for a sign it’s free, just think about what you can do in your yard. You can remove invasive plants, remove some of the lawn and plant some natives, or remove some of the non-natives and plant natives to get one!
Contact Cape Fear Audubon at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll come out, give you an evaluation and suggest ways to improve the well being of your yard. Do those suggestions and we’ll come back and you can have a sign pop up at your place.
-Content provided by Cape Fear Audubon Society
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