Gardening for the birds – The Crow’s Nest at USF St. Petersburg

Pictured Above: The enormous swallowtail is North America’s largest butterfly species.

Baron Reichenbach | The Crow’s Nest

By Baron Reichenbach

Do you need to add some further life and shade to your yard, balcony or anyplace open air the place you’ve crops?

Over a decade of hobbyist household gardening, I’ve picked up some helpful ideas for promoting to Florida’s extra colourful, and sometimes seasonal, birds and butterflies.

The General Strategy

Two key components to all of the following pointers are persistence and a holistic strategy to gardening.

It isn’t sufficient to simply plant sure flowers. Gardening for wildlife means making a protected area for all of the components of an ecosystem to develop. For that reason, I keep away from utilizing pesticides, herbicides or synthetic fertilizers, changing the latter with mushroom compost.

Whilst you might not see outcomes instantly, they’re greater than well worth the wait. The transition from a bunch of crops to an interwoven ecosystem can take a number of years, however will repeatedly reward you as soon as it’s established as a protected cease for the animals you’re seeking to appeal to. Particularly amongst birds, reminiscence is a strong software, and so they and their offspring can develop into an annual presence in case your yard is an acceptable area for them.


Thus far, I’ve had the pleasure of attracting and elevating monarch and queen butterflies, black and big swallowtails and quite a few different native butterfly species.

Blue porterweed and passionvines are Florida-native crops whose flowers appeal to a wide range of swallowtail, fritillary and skipper butterflies. Nonetheless, key to sustaining their presence are host crops for his or her caterpillars.

For monarch and queen butterflies, that is solely milkweed, which a big group of caterpillars can mow down in a matter of weeks. A number of fritillary species, in addition to the zebra longwing, will use the passionvine as a bunch plant along with being drawn to its flowers.

Swallowtails are extra various, with black swallowtails preferring Italian parsley and associated crops and big swallowtails preferring  citrus resembling wild lime.

Painted Buntings

The grownup male painted bunting is commonly thought of probably the most stunning fowl in North America, with a vivid pink, blue and inexperienced plumage. However in my conversations with different birdwatchers and gardeners, they are often notoriously troublesome to draw.

Buntings spend their winter in Florida, typically in mating pairs. They like dense vegetation, so place a fowl feeder subsequent to a dense hedge or bush in the event you’re seeking to create the best setting for them. They are typically timid and skittish, particularly within the presence of bigger birds.

The painted bunting is presently a protected species underneath the U.S. Migratory Chicken Act.

Pictured Above: A male (high) and two feminine painted buntings perch at a fowl feeder.
Baron Reichenbach | The Crow’s Nest


As a gardener, wildlife fanatic and photographer, few moments can evaluate to encountering a hummingbird in my very own yard. It occurred for the primary time through the winter of 2015, and so they have continued to point out up yearly as snowbirds, very like buntings.

I’ve discovered that hummingbirds are most interested in pink firespike and pink shrimp crops. Whereas these will not be native to Florida, they’re protected to plant and engaging to each hummingbirds and butterflies. The identical is true of the Mexican pink shrimp plant.

Like buntings, hummingbirds are skittish, and sometimes solely seem throughout lulls within the presence of different birds or people. Extra so than buntings, they’re hyperreactive to sudden modifications of their environment, making them troublesome to observe and {photograph}.

I hope the following pointers make it easier to in your journey to draw Florida’s most colourful guests and residents.

Pictured Above: A feminine ruby-throated hummingbird feeds from a pink firespike.
Baron Reichenbach | The Crow’s Nest

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