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Northern Plains Regional Reports

Designing a Songbird Garden

Encourage musical birds to take up residence in your garden by creating an oasis suited to their needs

Baltimore orioles are common in the Northern Plains—one of many songbirds you can expect to see in your garden. Photo: courtesy of pxfuel.com

The first thing to think about when designing a songbird garden is creating a haven in which songbirds can raise their young. A mating pair of birds needs to collect between 4,000 to 6,000 caterpillars to raise a nest of chicks, and a landscape full of nonnative plants that receives heavy pesticide use will do very little in providing for that need. I know what you are thinking: “But I don’t want caterpillars in my garden chewing up everything.” This is a valid concern; however, by gardening as naturally and organically as we can, a delicate balance can be obtained in which natural predators such as other insects, bats, birds, reptiles, and amphibians can keep the bad bugs in check. With that in mind, seek out plants that can serve as hosts for native butterfly and moth caterpillars and other larvae to entice songbirds to take up residence in the…

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