Over time, bird species have developed close relationships with the native plant species they use. Some of these relationships go back millions of years!  Since plants and the land around us are changed very rapidly by humans, some birds can have a very difficult time finding the food, water, nesting, and shelter resources they need, so it’s critically important that we add as many of these resources back to the environment as we can.  One of the best ways to do this in southern California is to provide native plants in your yard. 
Check-out the list of plants below to see what kinds of bird species you can attract with particular plants, and have fun adding much-needed habitat!  Great local sources of native plants are: Matilija Nursery in Moorpark,  Las Pilitas in Santa Margarita, Theodore Payne Foundation in Sun Valley, and Native Sons Nursery in Arroyo Grande.

california lilac coyote brush  monkeyflower  california fuschia
California Lilac                                           Coyote Brush                                                  Monkey Flower                                           California Fuschia


Common Name of Plant

Parts of plant and food type used by birds

Types of birds using the plant


seeds, insects

Goldfinches, Sparrows

Desert Willow

seeds, nectar, insects

Doves, hummingbirds


leaves, nectar, seeds, insects

Quail, sparrows, gleaning birds (Bushtit, warblers, etc)

Coyote Brush

seeds, insects

Goldfinches, Sparrows

California Lilac

seeds, insects

Quails, sparrows, gleaning birds


nectar, insects


California Sunflower

seeds, insects

Goldfinches, Sparrows


leaves and seeds,  insects

Quails, sparrows, Blue Grosbeaks

California Poppy

seeds, insects



berries, insects

Pigeons and doves, jays, thrushes, sparrows, finches

California Black Walnut

nuts, insects

Western Scrub Jay, insect gleaning birds

Malva Rosa

nectar, seeds, insects

Hummingbirds, insect gleaning birds

Bush Mallow

seeds, nectar, insects

Hummingbirds, insect gleaning birds


catkins, insects

Gleaning birds, hummingbirds, finches


acorns, leaf galls, insects

Jays, pigeons and doves, quails, nuthatch, titmice, gleaning birds, woodpeckers, etc

Lemonade Berry

berries, insects

Thrashers, sparrows, thrushes, warblers, Wrentit, etc

Wild Rose

hips, insects

Western Scrub Jay, California Thrasher, thrushes, etc.


catkins, insects

Goldfinches and bigger finches, sparrows, orioles, warblers, other insect gleaning birds, flycatchers, woodpeckers, etc


nectar, seeds, insects

Hummingbirds, insect gleaning birds


berries, flowers, insects

A lot of bird use!  Finches, jays, hummingbirds, gleaning birds, mockingbirds, etc

Woolly-blue Curls


Hummingbirds, insect gleaning birds

California Fuchsia


Hummingbirds, insect gleaning birds

Cornell University in New York has many active “Citizen Science” bird projects that people from all over the United States can help with.  These projects provide data on birds so that researchers and conservation organizations like the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology can help protect birds.  Below is a list of Cornell’s current projects; look online at  for more information!


project feeder

Project FeederWatch
Each year, 15,000 people count birds at their feeders for Project FeederWatch. With more than 1.5 million checklists submitted since 1987, FeederWatchers have contributed valuable data enabling scientists to monitor changes in the distribution and abundance of birds. Using FeederWatch data, scientists have studied the influence of nonnative species on native bird communities, examined the association between birds and habitats, and tracked unpredictable movements in winter bird populations. Participants gain from the rewarding experience of watching birds at their feeders and contributing their own observations to reveal larger patterns in bird populations across the continent.

By finding and monitoring bird nests, NestWatch participants help scientists track the breeding success of birds across North America. Participants witness fascinating behaviors of birds at the nest and collect information on the location, habitat, bird species, number of eggs, and number of young. Scientists use these data to track the reproductive success of North American breeding birds across the continent. Launched in 2007 with funding from the National Science Foundation, NestWatch has collected more than 100,000 nesting records. Combined with historic data, this information will help scientists address how birds are affected by large-scale changes such as global climate change, urbanization, and land use.

Bird Cams
By watching Bird Cams online, visitors from around the world enjoy live images and streaming videos of birds at their nests. Most recently, Cornell’s Bird Cams have allowed viewers to follow the courtship, nesting, and chick-raising activities of Red-tailed Hawks, Great Blue Herons, and Osprey. Bird Cams are a unique learning experience for the study and appreciation of animal behavior, viewed by hundreds of thousands of people in more than 130 countries. 
More bird cams:
Condor Nest Cams
Various Birds Nest Cams

Celebrate Urban Birds
Celebrate Urban Birds engages urban and rural residents in science, cultural, and community activities related to birds. Participants receive or download a free kit with posters, flower seeds, and data forms, then observe a small, defined bird-watching area for 10 minutes and report on the presence or absence of 16 species of birds. The project assesses the value of green spaces for birds, ranging in size from a potted plant to half a basketball court. Launched in 2007, Celebrate Urban Birds has partnered with nearly 5,000 community organizations and distributed more than 100,000 kits in English and Spanish. The National Forum on Children and Nature selected Celebrate Urban Birds as one of 30 nationally significant projects to connect children with the outdoors.

Additional Citizen-Science Projects
Additional citizen-science projects include eBird and the Great Backyard Bird Count developed by the Cornell Lab Information Science program in partnership with the National Audubon Society

Bird populations all over the world are declining due to habitat loss and modification; poisoning; pollution; and deaths by cars, windows, power towers, buildings, and cats.  The same is happening to other wildlife species – mammals, amphibians, reptiles -- at an alarming rate.  Each of us really does need to do our part to make this world a safer place for wildlife and native plants, which will make it a safer place for us too.  Please encourage your local educators, city council members, neighbors, and family to plant native plants; take poisons (including paints, oil, batteries) to certified disposal sites; use environmentally-friendly soaps, shampoos, and beauty products;  keep cats indoors as much as possible, especially during the bird breeding season (March-July); and drive more slowly and consciously where roads pass through wildlife areas.  The WFVZ receives hundreds of dead birds per year just from Ventura County alone, and it’s disheartening to see these beautiful birds killed by rodenticides, oil spills, window and car impacts, cats, etc, etc.  Please help the WFVZ help wild birds and wildlife.  Thank you!