Landscaping that Provides Rest Areas for Migrating Birds & Butterflies

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The annual migration of millions of birds and butterflies over thousands of miles is an amazing feat.  Look up, and you might even see it, as it’s happening right now through the fall months across the country!  Creating welcoming habitat on your property, where these incredible creatures can safely rest and find food & shelter along the way, is key to their survival.

The vast majority of land in the U.S., especially in the Eastern, Midwest and Great Plains regions, is privately owned.  This means that the welfare of our feathered friends depends largely on private landowners.  According to The Cornell Lab of Ornithology, “75% of threatened or endangered species occur on private lands,” so you can see that collectively, we can create an environment that is good for them and for us!  It’s more important than ever that we do so because of habitat loss.

What you can do:

  • Add landscaping with native plants to provide birds with the food and nesting sites they need.  Visit The Cornell Lab of Ornithology here for specific things you can do, even in a small yard.
  • Provide clean water for drinking and bathing, as well as supplemental food for birds year-round.
  • Plant pine, fir and cedar trees for butterflies to roost in at night after a long day of migrating (typically 50-100 miles per day).  If you live in California near San Diego or Santa Cruz, plant some eucalyptus, Monterey pines, and Monterey cypress trees that Monarch butterflies will use for their overwintering habitat.
  • Check out my previous post for Butterfly Garden Must-Haves.
  • Track the migrations and record your bird and butterfly sightings to, and
  • Avoid using synthetic pesticides which kill birds and other creatures.  (Pesticides include herbicides/weed killers, insecticides, fungicides and rodenticides)
  • Buy corn and soybeans that are organic and not genetically modified (GMO) because they are sprayed with herbicides that kill milkweed, the one and only plant that Monarch butterflies lay their eggs on.  Milkweeds are the only food source for Monarch larvae.  Buying organic produce in general is better for our own health, as well as the health of the environment & the beneficial critters who inhabit it.
  • Make green purchasing decisions.  Opt for FSC-certified wood products harvested from sustainably managed forests, as these forests provide important bird habitat.
  • Keep cats indoors as they are top predators of birds.  They also go after butterflies.

Learn more about butterflies from the U.S. Forest Service.

Bird migration map courtesy of


Tag(s): For Kids, The Great Green Outdoors, The Green Garden


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