South Florida is a beautiful place to live – from sundrenched Tampa Bay to Sarasota’s white beaches, we are surrounded by natural beauty. Of course, it is the native plants, tropical flowers and towering palms that often captivate the imagination, especially of those new to the area. Landscaping in this region is a completely new experience to many, as is the opportunity to get up close and personal with many of our amazing animals and birds. If you are a bird watcher or just love the serenity they can bring, attracting birds to your personal landscape is easy.
No matter their geographic area, birds need the same things – shelter from inclement weather, safe places to build a nest, protection from predators and a source of food and water.No matter their geographic area, birds need the same things – shelter from inclement weather, safe places to build a nest, protection from predators and a source of food and water.
Migratory birds are especially abundant along the coast in southern Florida. In fact, many birds seen through winter and early spring will disappear again for six months at a time. These birds are attracted to landscapes which utilize seed or fruit-bearing plants, or bird feeders with high quality seed. (Note: A bird feeder should be situated in an area that allows for viewing without disturbing the birds, protected from rain, and constantly full. An empty feeder will quickly send the birds to other places to search.)
Migratory birds likely to be seen in this area include the American white pelican, which often congregate in residential backyard ponds – much to the delight of residents. Several hummingbird species, most notably the Rufous hummingbird, winter in Florida; as do multiple species of plover. You may also notice many northern ducks and geese which have migrated south for the winter. They typically stay long enough to have babies, then fly back north when able.
When landscaping to attract certain species, keep in mind:
- Plants capable of providing shelter are best for attracting birds.
- Selecting a variety of plants which bloom at different times ensures that birds have a consistently reliable source of food. You may wish to designate a portion of your yard for a “wildflower garden”, which can be a little more unmanicured and will provide a great habitat for butterflies, bees and attracting birds.
- Plants which attract insects in the spring will ensure attracting birds the rest of the year. (Insects are a prime food source for birds.)
- Include a water source for drinking and bathing as well. Moving water is especially attractive to birds, so installing a small fountain attached to a birdbath or pond is a great option.
Hummingbirds are attracted to plants such as the scarlet milkweed, firebush, and honeysuckle. They also love orchids, which are also a favorite of Florida residents. For more information on our hundreds of orchid species, we recommend a visit to Sarasota’s renowned Selby Gardens.
Mockingbirds will be brought to your yard by the local Gumbo Limbo plant, as well as flowering jasmine, firethorn and Virginia creeper. These birds like a wide variety of native trees, including silver, thatch and royal palms, mulberry, red cedar and crepe myrtle trees.
Woodpeckers love both fig and avocado trees – which will provide fruit for you and your family as well. They will enjoy the same firethorn and Virginia creeper as many of their feathered friends, and also love to live in oak trees, such as the laurel and live oak tree varieties.
Cardinals and bluebirds will also flock to flowering jasmine and holly. For a unique native plant which will be irresistible to both of these birds, try a native coffee plant. This shrub is great for attracting birds in these families.
No matter what you choose to plant, attracting birds is as easy as installing beautiful plants, shrubs and trees. When you are ready to landscape your yard, stop by one of Big Earth Landscape Supply‘s four area locations. We have the gardening tools, materials and fertilizers you’ll need to ensure that your property is perfectly beautiful, Florida style.