By JAMES GAINES — Certain Disney princesses have a way with birds. Singing to them. Having them land on her finger. But you want to know the secret?
Snow White’s secret to getting up close and personal with her winged friends might be the plants around her. Plants, be they bushes, trees, or flowers, provide food and shelter to birds and other critters. Unfortunately, the world today is pretty different from what it was in Snow White’s time. A lot of that natural habitat is now gone.
The Audubon Society has a charming, simple-as-heck fix for the problem.
Nestled in their website is a database of birds, plants, and geographic data. Put in your zip code and — voilà! — you’ll get a list of beautiful, native, non-invasive plants you can add to your windowsill, rooftop, or garden that will help support local bird populations.
For example, let’s say you were in zip code 10001, right in the heart of New York City. Do you have a roof planter? Orioles just love butterfly milkweed.
Milkweed is easy to grow and attracts butterflies and other insects (which birds like to eat). Orioles use its fibers in their nests. Planting it means more food, shelter, and habitat for all kinds of birds. This kind of support is important because some birds are struggling due to man-made changes like urbanization, habitat loss, and climate change.
“A number of bird species are in trouble,” says John Rowden, Audubon’s director of community conservation. Luckily, he says, anyone can help out — “even a container on a balcony, patio, or fire escape can help.”
Here are more examples of what you can find in the Audubon database to help the birds near you:
A windowsill full of bluebell-of-Scotland will attract hummingbirds, even all the way up in Juneau, Alaska.
Alaska too cold for you? Los Angeles hummingbirds would love the flowers of the chalk liveforever succulent.
Chicago suburb? Plant a plum tree; get some lovely little finches.
A purple passionflower would look lovely in Austin, Texas, and might attract some cardinals too.
Want something larger, and a little less flashy, for a garden in Philly? Mockingbirds love to eat American holly berries.
Planter box in Seattle? Bright orange honeysuckle flowers could bring in waxwings.
This works, even in the desert. Got a little space outside your window in Las Vegas? Golden currant could bring in wrens.
Anyone can do this, and it really does help. The birds will thank you.
If you’re on a budget, many of these plants can be found as cheap seeds too. The Audubon database also points people to their local Audubon chapter, where they can get detailed advice about plant and bird care.
So whether you’re looking for a fun summer project to beautify your home, a way to help out native birds, or you just want to up your chances of finally fulfilling your Disney princess dream, head on over to their website and check it out.
You can view this online here.