Enhancing Bird Habitats with Native Plants: A Guide to Using Audubon’s Plant Database

Birdwatching and gardening are activities that beautifully overlap when we talk about creating bird-friendly gardens. As the interest in supporting local bird populations grows, gardeners often face the challenge of selecting the right plants. The Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database emerges as a beacon, guiding enthusiasts to make informed, ecologically responsible choices for their gardens based on their zip code.

The Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database

The Audubon Society, renowned for its dedication to bird conservation, has developed a Native Plants Database—a powerful tool that leverages your zip code to recommend native plants best suited for your area. This tool is more than just a plant selector; it’s a bridge connecting gardeners to the needs of their local bird populations.

Why Native Plants Matter

Native plants are the cornerstone of local ecosystems. These plants have evolved alongside local bird species and provide the optimal food, shelter, and nesting materials for them. Incorporating these plants into our gardens means creating a haven for birds, supporting biodiversity, and fostering a balanced ecosystem right in our backyards.

How the Database Works

Using the database is straightforward: enter your zip code, and it generates a list of plants native to your region. Each plant comes with detailed information, including the types of birds it attracts and specific growing conditions. This customization ensures that the plants you choose will thrive in your garden and effectively support local wildlife.

For example, in my neck of the woods in Eastern Washington, bitter cherry (Prunus emarginata) is a tree that came up for my zip code. After I read about it, I can add it to my plant list to take to my local nursery. If I plant this, it provides both fruit and is a caterpillar host which provides food for birds and their growing young. Some of the birds most supported by bitter cherry include orioles, thrushes, and vireos.

After you review the plants, you check them and add them to your shopping list. An email is required to move onto this step. You will get a list of the common plant name, the scientific name, and the birds that it may attract in an easy to print format. In addition to that, based on your zip code they recommend local resources (for mine they included the Washington Native Plant Society and a demostration garden. They also included two nearby native plant nurseries, and some west-coast online retailers.

Building a Bird-Friendly Garden

Creating a bird-friendly garden involves more than just planting a few native species. It’s about crafting a diverse habitat that caters to the needs of birds throughout the year. This includes a mix of trees, shrubs, and flowering plants that provide continuous support – from spring nesting to winter foraging. The database helps you select a variety of plants that bloom and bear fruit at different times, ensuring a year-round food supply.

Real-World Applications

The beauty of the Audubon Society’s database is not just in its practical application but also in its ability to inspire community involvement. It’s an excellent tool for gardening clubs, school projects, and neighborhood initiatives aimed at creating bird-friendly habitats. Gardeners can share experiences, track the birds visiting their gardens, and even inspire others to start their bird-friendly journeys.


Creating a bird-friendly garden with native plants is a rewarding venture that significantly contributes to bird conservation. The Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database is an invaluable tool for beginning this journey. It empowers gardeners to make informed decisions, transforming their gardens into thriving ecosystems that support local wildlife. For more information and to start planning your bird-friendly garden, visit the Audubon Society’s Native Plants Database.

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