Plant Trees to Attract Birds and Help Environment
One of the best ways to combat climate change is to fill your garden with as many trees, shrubs, and other plants as possible. Whether a tiny orchid or a towering oak, all plants have the amazing ability to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere during photosynthesis and store it in their wood, shoots, and roots.
Because they’re the giants of the plant kingdom, trees are also powerhouses of carbon storage. In one year, a mature tree can absorb 48 pounds of CO2—about the amount emitted by driving 150 miles in a hybrid plug-in car. They cool the air by casting shade and releasing water vapor when they breathe, trees also alleviate one of the most underestimated health threats of climate change—heat waves.
Of course, while they’re helping to reset the earth’s thermostat, trees in towns and cities provide critical habitat. These so-called urban forests, the total of trees along streets and in parks, commercial landscapes, and residential yards, support a lot of native species and even species of conservation concern. New York City’s Central Park, for example, is a refuge for several at-risk birds, including resident Common Nighthawks and migrants such as Wilson’s Warblers, both species in decline.
The bad news is that, at a time when urban forests are needed most, they are also declining across the country. According to a recent U.S. Forest Service study, nationally, about 36 million trees per year were lost in towns and cities due to pests, diseases, and development from 2009 to 2014.
Typically, only a small percentage of a city’s forest is located on public land, which means home gardeners have a vital role to play in efforts to enhance and maintain urban forests—both for their carbon-trapping and wildlife habitat benefits. It comes down to some simple decisions such as what kind of tree to plant for birds like chickadees which prefer forage in neighborhoods with a high percentage of native trees. The native species support more caterpillars, which are baby food for birds.
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