• Bird Academy
      Bird Academy
      Share a little bit about your plans for building up your naturescape. What kinds of questions do you have? What resources are available to you to help you answer those questions?
      You must be enrolled in the course to reply to this topic.
    • Marjorie
      Chirps: 31
      I have a nice mix of perennials and annuals around the house. I like the idea of grouping them in threes so when I add more I plan to try that.  I am enjoying learning which  plants are native to my area and what I might add to attract birds and butterflies. I want to expand what I call my “butterfly garden” and make it a true nature scape area by eliminating the invasive non-native plants and replace them with others that I learned would be a good choice based on my yard and zone: cardinal flower, blazing star and smooth penstemon (for hummingbirds . I also want to add some Goldenrod and wild geraniums out back by my milkweed.  I enjoyed the worksheet as it helped me think through what birds and insects might want instead of adding just what I thought was pretty.  Some of the boxes on the sheets include items I had not considered (and need to study more). Looking at the list of Bird Academy Favorite plants for my area I have a nice start with my cone flowers, blue flag Iris and my neighbor’s purple flowering raspberries (almost in our back yard) but I want to add Salix discolor  (I need to read up and see if I have what it needs) and blue vervain. I am on my way . . . but always more to learn.  The guides, links and photos provided in this course are a huge help. Thank You.
    • Debbie
      Chirps: 4
      I bought coral honeysuckle to climb up my deck posts today and plan to add some bayberry bushes in a cluster in an unused space. Long term plan is to create a water feature with moving water. I love all the native plant links and resources.  I'll be referencing them often. I'm a 5th grade teacher and we are moving to a new building in 2025.  My plan is to have my students design a native plants garden for the new school and I will use resources from this course to guide them in the design & planning process.
    • Luis Lauro
      Chirps: 21
      04 Ruellia simplex 02     05 Lobelia laxifora 02 NATIVE PLANTS / Wish List:  ZONE: 9a  NATIVE HERBACEOUS:
      • Ruellia simplex
      • Lobelia laxiflora
    • Luis Lauro
      Chirps: 21
      01 Aquilegia chrysantha 02   02 Satureja montana 02 03 Penstemon roseus 02 NATIVE PLANTS / Wish List:  ZONE: 9a  NATIVE HERBACEOUS:
      • Aquilegia chrysantha
      • Satureja montana
      • Penstemon roseus
    • Luis Lauro
      Chirps: 21
      04 Salvia involucrata 02     05 Salvia elegans 02 NATIVE PLANTS / Wish List: ZONE: 9a NATIVE SALVIAS:
      • Salvia involucrata
      • Salvia elegans
    • Luis Lauro
      Chirps: 21
      01 Salvia coccinea 03  02 Salvia dichlamys 02 03 Salvia longistyla 02 NATIVE PLANTS / Wish List: ZONE: 9a Project: Biodiverse Garden with species that flower and produce nectar and pollen to attract pollinators such as hummingbirds, bees, butterflies, and many other insects by offering them food. In addition, these species also offer shelter and resting places. NATIVE SALVIAS:
      • Salvia coccinea
      • Salvia dychlamis
      • Salvia longystila
    • Evelyn
      Chirps: 6
      Again, great resources here! I'll be using them all.
    • There are so many beautiful photos in the class that I wish I had a bigger yard!  I don't have a lot of room so most of my flowers end up in pots.  I'm trying to do more natives for the birds.  I have a raised bed vegetable garden and find the finches perching on my tomato cages.  I'm sure it's much cooler for them and they are very welcome to anything in the garden, especially the bugs!
    • Colleen
      Chirps: 2
      While I have had a large, native plant garden for fifteen years, I am always excited to add on to it. I feel the garden is always growing, evolving and, hopefully, becoming a better habitat space every year. This year I will be adding a space for pokeweed which is a berry-producing producing bird favorite.
    • Megan
      Chirps: 4
      I've just gotten in touch with a local native plant nursery and am excited to start looking at what I can plant! I have a friend who shares some of these low-maintenance native gardening goals so we're planning to split some orders (better deals on blueberry plants if you buy 5, etc.) I'm hoping to plant lots of berries and fruits that birds and pollinators will enjoy--beach plums, blueberries, viburnums are all strong contenders. I also want some evergreen shrubs, so I've been looking at inkberry holly, rhododendrons, and mountain laurel for the shadier portions of my front yard. It's hard to be patient!  To slow myself down, I'm planning to see what I'm most drawn to from my list when I visit the nursery in person, ask some questions, and then start with 1-2 bigger shrubs that can anchor that area. I've also seen some great variety packs of native plants that are tailored to specific growing conditions, so I might try some of those to lean on what experts have already figured out for me!
    • Lisa
      Chirps: 4
      IMG_4001 I am excited to take out non native plants and create a wildlife area in my backyard. I have noticed with the changing seasons that my yard gets different areas of sun depending on the slant of the light. I also don't want to have to cover anything again during a cold snap. Birds coming to the yard and I would like to add places for butterflies.
    • Renee
      Chirps: 5
      I want to add more wildflowers. My daughter planted coneflower last year but I don't know if that will come back. I've put in a couple of rabbiteye blueberries but I am not sure if they will survive. I would like to pull out some old scraggly, leggy shrubs and add highbush blueberries near our front steps. I have some beautyberry that is doing well and would like to add more. For the past couple of years I have been thinking about adding some native flame azaleas but I never find them at the plant sales - they sell out very quickly here. Hopefully our bee balm comes back again this year. I also need to figure out a native ground cover to put it that can replace the invasive ivy and liriope that I am trying to remove.
    • One thing, i want, is ornamental flower pots, rather than just basic pots. Not just plastic ones, nor basic clay. Pots that give a quality look. Maybe painted  plant/flower pots, of HQ material, with patterns ?
      • Angela
        Chirps: 4
        Hi! If you have a Home Goods near you, this can be a place to find planters at a very good price. They tend to stock a lot in the later winter/early spring.
      • I tend to go for plastic just because they are light weight.  I line them around the edge of my patio but I do move them around so weight is a factor.
    • Allison
      Chirps: 12
      I was happy to see the recommended plants for my region with a note about which are container-friendly.  Since my yard is mostly shady, with sun only near the driveway, I might be able to get creative with large containers that would allow me to plant some sun-loving natives.  I also would like to stabilize the hilly bank along the road in front to prevent erosion.  We do have some mosses growing, so I'll do some research about whether that is desirable.  I do plan to add more native ground covers.  Our local master gardener organization has an upcoming seed swap, so I'll look forward to trying a few new things.
    • I am gonna' go practical. I have some birdbaths. I am gonna' put a branch, stick the branch in the ground, and have it be right above the bird bath. So the bird has the extra perch, to sip the water. I have put whole tangerines, stuck like a shish-kabob, on the secondary stems, on the branch, to attract birds, and bugs, which attract more birds. Also, a lot of potted plants. 2-3 berry plants, around the perimeter, of the garden. I will also add 'specialty grasses,' as mentioned, in the grassy areas. Switchgrass. And other grasses. Last year, I left the perimeter, mowed less. I will do the same in '24. And I have a small, weed garden, in the middle of my backyard. It will have some potted plants, added to it, and a large dead branch, near the weed garden. Dug into the ground. So woodpeckers, have a stump of wood, to peck and hammer, while in my garden. Lastly, native potted plants, with berries, will be added, like I said. And also, I will plant the complementary grasses, on the perimeter, and/or in the weed garden. And as I have noted, un-mowed areas, grow unintentional wildflowers, that birds enjoy. So I will expand the un-mowed areas. Form the perimeter, to intentional 'circles' in the lawn. bk
    • Darlene
      Chirps: 10
      I have three rock gardens created by the previous homeowner. Over the years, I have tried to plant perennials, however, in the process of this course, I am inclined to pull up one of them that has a number random volunteer plants including tree seedlings. The area is last summer was heavily overgrown.Part of the overgrowth is due to some native mountain mint that I bought at botanical garden sale and planted a couple of years ago. I have pulled some up but the mountain mint is a vigorous reproducer. One of my other concerns is that there are two large rocks that have a top larger than the bottom and are perfect for snakes to inhabit or at least I am imagining so. We have removed several copperheads over the years. I'm envisioning removing a couple of knockout roses  and a beauty berry planted three years ago that could become a focal point in the garden. My questions what are the best plants, where can I buy these natives etc. I will use some of the links in this course to assist with this information as well as I sent an email to a native gardening group in my area and am hoping to hear from them.
    • Dave
      Chirps: 4
      I lost a couple of mature trees in my backyard last summer in a heavy storm. That opened up a bare spot in my otherwise heavily shaded backyard and the invasives have moved in very aggressively. I want to focus on that area and try to get native ground cover and fast-growing perennials in there.
    • Larry
      Chirps: 3
      I will transplant my trumpet honeysuckle to a better place, and probably add another one.
    • Karen
      Chirps: 5
      One thing I learned after I installed my pollinator garden, the pollinators including the birds found us. It didn't take long.  It really is "If you build it, they will come."
    • Once I know where my future garden will be, I will look forward to answering my question on the area's native plants. This class has provided so many wonderful resources, like the native plant databases, that I am excited to look into and find the plants that work for me and my area. From there my only question would be: What birds will I see?
    • Donna
      Chirps: 7
      Plans: I plan to focus on the front yard this spring. We have a blank slate in so many ways. We plan to keep the center of the front wild with bunchgrass, sage, some wildflowers I planted last year and rabbit bushes. There are three areas to focus on and I should probably select one to start with. Two are the beds on either side of the house near the port cochere that need plants. One side (right of the front door) has gravel and a weed controlling barrier in place. The other side is needing some work underground to drain water from the gutters away from the house so not ready for planting yet. We don't have plants now on either side of the house. The third area is between the gravel edging the circular driveway and the wild bunchgrass. I have ordered about 20 native plants and shrub but I need a plan on where to start planting them. I just signed up for a 4-session class on landscaping design at a nearby arboretum to hopefully get a solid landscape plan in place and then prioritize my projects. And I need to keep wildfire safety in mind as a priority. I have great resources - the class materials from this experience, local native nurseries, Audubon pals who know a LOT, the arboretum. Just need to "dig in" Can you tell from the photo it's windy in Ellensburg today? thumbnail   Resources
    • Michelle
      Chirps: 2
      It's been interesting to read through everyone's posts! As for my husband and me, we plan to spruce up our pollinator garden with more native species. Eventually, we would also like to pull out the Japanese spurge (pachysandra terminalis) that is spreading through a small, wild area at the bottom of our property and replace it with native ground cover, logs, rocks, etc. to make it more bird friendly. We are fortunate to live in an area that has native plant sales throughout the year, so, moving forward, I'll be taking closer note of when and where these are held.
    • Lorraine
      Chirps: 1
      Backyard SE to NW view-9786 My goal was to expand the beds W to E on N & S edges of our yard and break the look of the typical Florida development homes. I planted majority (90%) native trees and plants for SE FL to provide food, water and shelter/nesting for birds. Within hours, a diversity of birds visited the yard and now have a safe place to feed, drink, bathe and even nest (a few weeks later). I participated in a local Audubon chapter program for native backyard landscaping. A wonderful experience.
      • This week, I begin my practice gardening/landscaping at my local Wetland Center, so I am excited to be finishing up this course. I can finally put my newfound knowledge to use before tackling my own land! I will let my pasture/woodlands region continue being as it wishes for now. In the pasture, I have wildflowers growing ... wild ... right now, e.g. Primrose/Buttercups (Oenothera speciosa) with a mowed border along the fencing to allow for walking without trampling.
      • I already have a small area behind my house that will be a perfect place to start my personal, hands-on gardening, as I already have numerous Passerines visiting due to my habit of not over-mowing and over-cutting back of plants, as well as two differently sized birdbaths with the much larger having a solar-powered fountain. Common Yellowthroats (Geothlypis trichas) and Painted Buntings (Passerina ciris) are uncommon for us, and we had both visit this last weekend.
      • We also had a pretty rare sighting for our area of a Gray Hawk (Buteo plagiatus), but we have the Cottonwoods (Populus deltoides) and Mesquites (Prosopis spp.) they love so much, and they are known to mingle in Texas, usually Southern regions.
        • Humans tend to not love Mesquites (Prosopis spp.), but they are interesting since they do not deplete the soil of nitrogen, as do most plants. Mesquites (Prosopis spp.) actually enrich soil by returning nitrogen to it, but we still have to be willing to be given that while they take a little more water than the average tree (Never ask if a rancher enjoys them, "NO!"). This is why I only keep them away from my homestead, but some do exist naturally in my woodlands.
        • I have a natural spring pond, so I will let them continue to be that little niche for the wildlife that know how to make use of them.
        • Gray Hawks (Buteo plagiatus) tend to prefer moving streams, which is why I am not shocked it showed up when I had rushing water moving as I am figuring out a new, safe water source for my birds. It showed up shortly and landed at the edge of the water. I was absolutely stunned but in a great way! They are not as big as my Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis), so hopefully they stick to their favorite tall trees and are quick to travel my open-country pasture between the woodlands and my massive homestead trees! Luckily, I do have some strategically-placed evergreens in the center of the open-country pasture area that the Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis) loves to watch from the taller woodland trees, so smaller bird friends have a safe base if needed.
      Now, I need to start adding some of the natives I have gathered in a document, since my region is so specific. Here is a small example based off of Ecoregion 4. Remember, a lot of common names are shared across varying species and genera, so do not follow my list for your area without checking first, but many of these are native and naturalized outside of my region, too, research first!
          • Trees
            • Pecan
            • Black Walnut
            • Sycamore
            • Eastern Cottonwood
            • Burr Oak
            • Shumard Red Oak
            • American Elm
            • Cedar Elm
            • Common Persimmon
            • Deciduous Holly
            • Red Mulberry
            • Carolina Buckthorn
            • Huisache
            • Red Buckeye
            • Eastern Redbud
            • Mexican Plum
            • American Elderberry
            • Eastern Red Cedar
          • Shrubs
            • American Beauty-berry
            • Buttonbush
            • Fragrant Sumac
            • Autumn Sage
          • Succulents
            • Pale-leaf Yucca
          • Vines
            • Cross-vine
            • Trumpet Creeper
            • Coral Honeysuckle
            • Virginia Creeper
            • May Pop
            • Prairie Rose
          • Grasses
            • Big Bluestem
            • Sideoats grama
            • Canada Wildrye
            • Big Muhly
            • Indiangrass
            • Little Bluestem
          • Wildflowers
            • Columbine
            • Purple Coneflower
            • Coralbean
            • Cardinal Flower
            • Turk’s Cap
            • Scarlet Sage
            • Indian Paintbrush
            • Texas Bluebonnet
            • Brown-eyed Susan