More than half of North American bird species are threatened by climate change, according to the national Audubon Society, which links the welfare of birds to urbanization.
Conservationists say one way to protect birds and reduce emissions that cause climate change is to trade a well-manicured, carpet-like lawn for plants native to the region.
John Rowden with the Audubon Society said plants like the Allegheny Serviceberry, the Gray Dogwood and Highbush Blueberry would attract insects that birds eat.
“Insects tend to be specialists so about 90 percent of insects have a small fleet of plants that they actually prefer to lay their eggs on,” he said. “And so that specialization means that native plants are just better sources of that aspect of resources for birds.”
The group is urging residents in urban areas like Pittsburgh to help restore the environment birds need to thrive.
“You don’t need a big yard. If you have a balcony or a fire escape or a patio, you could put some potted plants out. We have data that show that insects, moths and butterflies will find those plant, lay their eggs and the birds then will benefit from it.”
The Audubon Society created an online database listing native perennials, vines and other plants based on zip codes that the group says will help contribute to a sustainable source of food for wildlife.
Rowden said where birds thrive, people prosper. That’s especially true for places with a history of industrial pollution and urbanization like Pittsburgh.
“I want to make our communities friendlier for birds not only so birds will thrive there but that people will thrive there as well. And part of that is doing things like putting native plants in,” he said.