Your Garden’s Most Enjoyable Bird Visitors

Gardener’s Corner | Questions and Answers with Local Experts 

By Dan Songster, 2012 May

This column is a regular newsletter feature offering chapter members and local experts a chance to briefly share information on many things related to gardening with natives. This issue’s question was “Which birds are the most enjoyable visitors to your native plants?” 

Ron Vanderhoff – “Western Bluebirds. They are not only beautiful birds and insect eaters, they almost rely on gardeners. With the lack of old or dead trees in our suburban areas (and their natural nesting cavities) bluebird boxes provided by gardeners are critical.”

Dori Ito – “In a word, Hummingbird.”

Christianne Shannon – “Since I began to transform the garden into a ‘bit of nature’, more than 15 years ago, my favorites are the Western Bluebirds, Nuttal’s & Downy Woodpeckers, Orange-crowned & Yellow-rumped Warblers, Hooded Orioles, White-crowned Sparrows, Anna’s & Allen’s Hummers and House & Bewick’s Wrens, as either residents or regular seasonal visitors.

But I have to mention the 3 species of Finches and the California Towhees, not only they were the first species to move in but their constant presence attracts many passing birds to my garden.”

Alison Shilling – “Bush tits: they come both in spring and in fall to the annual sunflowers—in spring for insects and in fall for the seeds. They form a twittering group debating which plant is best, often hanging upside down.”

Thea Gavin – “I love to watch and listen to small flocks of tiny bushtits flitting in and out of the sagebrush (Artemesia californica) fence line thicket in my back yard; their constant contact calls—chipping and twitting—are a welcome counterpoint to the traffic noise from the nearby Orange Crush interchange.”

Laura Camp – “Hummingbirds have to be the winner, and as a birder I will pick my favorite hummingbird—Costa’s. I love their distinctive whistle, they are small and cute even for a hummer, and the male’s gorget is a beautiful dark violet with a long mustache. There is one showing himself every day this spring at Tree of Life Nursery near the retail store, and I get excited every time.”

Orchid Black – “While hummingbirds are probably the favorite overall, I enjoy the Goldfinches and Lesser Goldfinches that use the seed of Encelia, Salvia, and Muhlenbergia rigens in the garden.”

Celia Kutcher – “Hummingbirds & bush tits!”

Bob Hogan – “Allen’s Hummingbird comes all year to visit Galvesia speciosa and also enjoys CA fuschia in season. For the majority of the year, Orange-crowned Warbler makes repeated visits every day, systematically working its way through Rhus ovata, Galvesia speciosa, and Mound San Bruno coffeeberry which are adjacent to each other and cover the east fence.”

Stephanie Pacheco -“Common yellowthroat (because it is uncommon in OC). And Black phoebe and goldfinches. And those occasional migrants.”

Chuck Wright – “Ours is a small mixed condo yard and the most important feature for the birds is water. I have a small “pond” on the ground with a dripper that attracts California towhee and a large above ground pedestal birdbath with small pump and automatic daily fresh water that attracts lots and lots of birds from cooper’s hawk to house finches, lesser gold finches, robins, hummers, and many migrating birds. Nearby ground cover is provided by maiden hair, blue eyed grass and herbs.”

Dan Songster – “Well, I like Phoebes. Cheerful disposition, acrobatic fliers, and will often sit still for a photo. Although they do not feed on the plants, they sure bring life and movement to the open spaces of a garden while the bushtits are cloaked in vegetation!”


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