Special for Arizona Daily Star
Q:Q: How can I attract birds and butterflies to my yard?
Answer – The key is to select native and desert-friendly plants and trees that provide a small amount of water every season. Kathleen Ferris of AMWUA (Arizona Municipal Water Users Association) provides these guidelines for creating a backyard home that includes birds, butterflies and lizards.
Shelter – Diversity is important. Immigrant and native birds seek high and low places to hide, rest, and nest. They want tall cactus, tall shrubs and trees. Quail as ground cover. They need grapes, low shrubs and cactus in a group where it is easy to hide from the hunters and find shade. However, they also need open spaces between groups of plants to hunt seeds and insects.
Maintenance – A flawless garden does not attract many wildlife. Birds attract insects under leaves and plants and trees. Do not rush to get up. Also, keep cutting small. Pruning or cutting removes flowers, seeds, and berries that birds and butterflies need. Be sure to use non-toxic methods to control pests and weeds.
Plants – Butterfly Garden needs plants that can feed on butterfly larvae and flowers that bloom when a butterfly emerges. Desert milk, desert marigolds, and fairy tales do the trick. When the butterflies arrive, they enjoy the flaming honeycomb, many species of birds, and the desert willow. These plants and aloe vera with high orange and yellow flowers also attract hummingbirds. Look for plants that bloom and produce berries and seeds. The AMWUA guide (amwua.org/plants) helps you find seasonal flowering plants.