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Attracting California birds with native plants

Southern California is a desert. California native wildlife and plants are desert species.

We've imported water to make it look like an oasis most of the year, but Southern California still is a desert. Because of the wide variety of habiats, from ocean to wetlands to mountains and inland deserts, we also have a wide variety of birds who live in, or migrate through those habitats.

Warblers, Towhees, Wrens, Waxwings, Robins, Thrashers, Finches, Sparrows, Thrushes, Kingbirds, Tanagers, Bluebirds, Orioles and Mockingbirds are all common Southern California songbirds that live in wilderness areas, on the edges of town, and in neighborhoods and parks.

Insects and seeds make up most of the birds' diet, but berries offer an important supplement of nutrients not found in seeds or insects. Most birds are somewhat generalists in their diet -- only a few will eat a strict diet of one or two foods. Even hummingbirds, our California favorite, eats not only nectar of long tubular blossoms, but eat insects they find in spiderwebs, etc.

The following native plants are attractive shrubs that produce berries to feed and attract colorful native birds!

  • Arctostaphylos species, Manzanita
  • Comarostaphylos diversifolia, Summer Holly
  • Heteromeles arbutifolia, Toyon
  • Mahonia nevinii, Nevin's Barberry
  • Opuntia littoralis, Coastal Prickly Pear
  • Prunus ilicifolia, Hollyleaf Cherry
  • Rhamnus californica, Coffeeberry
  • Rhus integrifolia, Lemonadeberry
  • Rhus ovata, Sugarbush
  • Ribes sanguineum v. glutinosum, Red Flowering Currant
  • Rosa californica, California Wild Rose
  • Rubus ursinus, California Wild Blackberry
  • Sambucus mexicana, Mexican Elderberry
  • Symphoricarpos mollis, Creeping Snowberry
  • Vitis girdiana, Desert Wild Grape
  • Xylococcus bicolor, Mission Manzanita

    You can find these plants at native plant nurseries that specialize in regional natives. One such nursery is The Tree of Life in San Juan Capistrano, CA.

    The Tree of Life Nursery
    33201 Ortega Highway
    San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693

    PS: This nursery has also built a number of strawbale buildings for their nursery. Check them out!

    For more articles about California Nature

    California Beach Communities
    Common Native Plants of Southern California Uplands
    Natural Los Angeles Resources
    Common Native Wildlife of Southern California
    Common Native Birds of Southern California
    Attracting California birds with native plants
    Los Angeles Urban Forest
    There's a Park Near You in Los Angeles
    News about the SoCal Environment
    Least Terns Preserve on the LA Beach
    Visiting California Beach Communities - An Overview
    Los Angeles Area Nature Link List