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Bay Area Birds

Updated: Jan 29



Did you know the Bay Area is home to over seventy-five different species of birds?

It’s true. And that doesn’t include the myriad of visitors we get as they migrate from Alaska to Latin America. They’re all in need of food, water and shelter. Just as we discussed attracting hummingbirds in our Humming Bird blog and butterflies in our Butterfly blog, by placing the right types of trees for nesting, you are sure to attract certain species of birds.

Though not as severe as the majestic monarch butterfly, the bird population in the Bay Area has seen a steady decline in the past few decades. Deforestation, wild fires, climate change, urban sprawl and even the decline of monarchs, themselves, have all been contributing factors. The monarch butterfly and its caterpillars are a source of food species such as the black-backed oriole and the black-headed grosbeaks, which have evolved over time and developed an immunity to the monarch’s toxicity. Sadly, without the monarch to feed on, their food source has lessened.

“Think globally, act locally.” – David Brower

Mr. Brower has aptly captured the growing sentiment of millions of people who want to make a difference by contributing any way they can to their local ecosystems and the environment in general. With his quote in mind, we see an increasing number of our clients choose to be more cognizant of the way they have us approach their landscape projects. They are installing water features to provide fresh water to local wildlife (like birds), and having their yards certified as Wildlife Habitats. They are also installing less lawn, and with our recommendation, having us install drip systems for their plants and gardens in order to use less water. But they are also having us include plants that attract and nurture bees, which are not only endangered, we need them! Seventy out of the top hundred human food crops — which supply about 90 percent of the world’s nutrition — are pollinated by bees. With the decreasing bird population in the Bay Area, it’s time to start thinking about birds and the trees they look to nest in.

Tree (Common Name) Birds

White Adler Goldfinch, Warblers

Cherry Trees Western Scrub-jays, Bluebirds, Robins, Finches

Crab-apple Robins, Grosbeaks, Cross-bills

Big Leaf Maple Evening Grosbeak, many other kinds of birds

Yarrow Lesser Goldfinch, Lawrence's Goldfinch

Western Redbud Anna's & Allen's Hummingbirds, Lesser & Lawrence's Goldfinch

California Lilac California Quail

California Black Walnut Western Scrub Jay

Pines Stellar's Jays, White-breasted Nuthatch, many others

Here is a Short List of Native Trees and Shrubs That Will Attract Birds:

  • Firs such as Holly-Leaved Cherry, Manzanitas or California Coffeeberry.

  • Deciduous such as Blue Elderberry (the berries are also safe for human consumption), California Wild Rose, California Grapes, Fuchsia flower, Gooseberry.

  • Even Wild Strawberry, California Poppies, Desert Olive, Buckwheat, or Coastal Bush Sunflower will attract everything from finches to doves to hummingbirds.

There are a number of resources online if you don’t see trees or birds you like. Robins, for example, nest widely across the Bay Area wherever trees border lawns with earthworms. Everyone enjoys the sound of birds chirping in the spring and summer months and thus it shouldn’t be difficult to host our feathered friends. But if you are looking for something specific or want to know what birds your favorite tree will attract (and hopefully host a nest for their offspring), here are some leads:

For a more comprehensive list, please check out the following websites:


• Yerba Buena Nursery – http://www.yerbabuenanursery.com

• California Native Plant Society – http://www.cnps.org

• Calflora Database – http://www.calflora.org

• Native Habitats Database – http://www.nativehabitats.org

• Las Pilitas Nursery – http://www.laspilitas.com

Creating a natural wildlife space is not only great for the birds and insects, it’s a great way to educate your children and a wonderful way to spend time outdoors and maybe spy some hatchlings! Don’t worry about being an expert. There are also several apps available for your smart device that can help to not only identify the different species of bird, but their songs as well.

Some apps to check out include:

  • Ebird

  • Birdseye

  • Merlin Bird ID

  • Audubon Bird Guide

Get out, enjoy nature, and when choosing your next tree to plant, keep the birds in mind!


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