What is Audubon doing for the redstart?
Plants for Birds Program
Enthusiasm for using native plants in Florida landscapes is spreading among Audubon’s 45 local chapters in Florida! Twenty of Florida’s Audubon chapters serve as local native plant resources and are encouraging their communities and neighbors to use native landscaping. Native plants are better for birds and people, save water, control flooding, use fewer chemicals, reduce yard maintenance, and create native Florida beauty in landscapes. Check out these examples of just a few chapters working to expand bird-friendly native landscapes in their communities:
Pelican Island Audubon is advocating for native plants to help save the Indian River Lagoon. More than 400 attendees participated in a recent two-day native landscaping conference, and local officials have asked for their help in developing a local native plant program. Native plants require less water and fertilizer, making them friendlier to nearby rivers, lakes, and the Indian River Lagoon.
South Florida Audubon is restoring three existing bird sanctuary butterfly gardens with more bird-friendly plants after many were destroyed by Hurricane Irma. Audubon’s interactive database at Audubon.org/PlantsForBirds is serving as a guide to select native plants for these gardens. The Garden Club of the Quail Ridge Country Club, local Florida Master Gardeners, and the National Wildlife Habitat Steward volunteers are partnering with South Florida Audubon on this project, which includes installing new plants and providing community education.
Drumming up incredible local interest in native plants, Four Rivers Audubon in North Central Florida featured a native plant giveaway as part of their 9th Annual Alligator Lake Spring Festival in April. Hundreds gather each year for this community event celebrating the area’s springs and nature. More than 200 carefully selected native plants were given away to attendees with installation, care, and benefit details.
Bay County Audubon hosted "Birds, Bugs and Berries," a well-attended symposium on native plants. Expert birders, native plant enthusiasts, and gardening specialists highlighted the importance of native plants for both birds and the bugs they need. Insects provide an important source of protein for birds, especially young song birds. Bird populations have dramatically declined due to habitat loss and climate change, and native landscapes empower homeowners and business to help both the environment and the birds.
American Redstarts can use these native plant gardens for foraging opportunities as they migrate through the Sunshine State. As more redstarts begin to remain in Florida year-round, they can also use native plant gardens as critical overwintering habitat.
What can I do?
Plant native plants across your landscape, and ask your neighbors and community to do the same. Once established, native plants do not need watering, pesticides, or fertilizers, making them better for water quality, and your wallet.
Participate in community science projects that collect critical information on the movements and populations of American Redstarts. In addition to the Christmas Bird Count, be sure to log in to eBird.org to record sightings all year round.
Photo: Eric Nie/Audubon Photography Awards.