Especially this time of year, songbirds enjoy serenading the early morning air, and by default those of us who are up and about. They are happy to stay around as long as there is food, water and shelter. Let’s start with natural foods we can grow in our space and share with feathered friends.
Seed eating birds such as cardinals, finches, and Gambel's quail prefer the best seed producers, including Aloysia, Desert Marigold and Brittlebush. At Green Valley’s Arid Garden, singing goldfinches daily flit and hang from the flexible Aloysia bush branches much like tiny acrobats devouring multitudes of petite seeds.
Luscious fruits loaded with moisture and nourishment are magnets for Curve-Billed Thrashers, birdland’s local opera stars. Any of the many prickly pears, desert hackberry and saguaro are among their favorites.
Nectar seeking, chatty verdins will pierce the base of Mexican Honeysuckle, Penstemon, and Cape Honeysuckle flowers for their nutritious appeal.
Uniquely sweet flowers of mature Agaves and Pineapple Guava tree are favorites of many of the brightly feathered Oriole family.
Vividly colored tubular flowers of Autumn Sage, Yellowbells, and Trumpet vines are especially sought by native and migrating hummingbirds. Although not singers, these colorful entertainers are a delight to watch.
Saguaro cactus may be the single most bird-friendly plant to have in the landscape. It provides safe shelter for cavity-nesters, a nectar source, and sweet fruits containing food and moisture. Among its biggest fans are the American kestrel, elf owls, Gila woodpeckers, and white-winged doves.
Add a sparkling-clean bird bath or fountain to the landscape, then sit back and enjoy the songs and antics of your feathered friends.
Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area.