Gardening for Birds with Native Plants

Presentation Details

Do you want to attract more birds to your yard or neighborhood greenbelt? In this talk you will find out how native plants help birds, and get acquainted with several easy to grow native plants that appeal to birds and other wildlife. (This talk has lots of basic info about gardening practices relevant to all regions, and I have presented it to a statewide group. I can highlight some of a region’s plants with the sponsoring organization’s help, but am most comfortable with those in central Texas.)

Equipment Required:
Additional Requirements:
Ecoregions Covered:
East Central Texas Plains, Edwards Plateau, Texas Blackland Prairies

Presenter Information

  • Jane Tillman

    Jane Tillman is a retired University of Texas lecturer in Nutritional Sciences whose twin passions are birds and native plants.

    She is an active member of the Travis Audubon Society where she is the co-chair of the Speakers Bureau and Program Committee, a member of the Education Committee, and leads field trips. She teaches beginning backyard birding classes and gives talks about Central Texas birds and gardening for birds to garden clubs, neighborhood associations, bird festivals and libraries. Jane teaches a Birds of Central Texas class for the local non-profit Lifetime Learning Institute. She also teaches for the Native Landscape Certification Program, and helped create the NLCP Landscape for Birds class. She writes a monthly bird forecast blog post for a local TV station.

    Jane gardens for wildlife, and has a Best of Texas Backyard Wildlife Habitat. She has 98 species of birds on her yard list. Jane is a past president of the Native Plant Society of Texas, Austin chapter. Typical talks she gives are on Gardening for Birds, Putting out the Welcome Mat for Backyard Birds (with feeders, water and native plants), Owls of Central Texas, Ducks and Wading Birds, Bird Migration, Backyard Birds, and Birds of Central Texas.

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About the Region

New Braunfels, the location of our Fall 2024 Symposium, straddles both the Edwards Plateau Ecoregion and the Blackland Prairie ecoregion. Interstate 35 divides the city of New Braunfels; its path through the city closely parallels the boundary of these two ecoregions, with the Edwards Plateau on the west side and the Blackland Prairies region to the east. The Edwards Plateau area is also called the Hill Country; however, this general term covers a much larger area extending farther north. Spring-fed creeks are found throughout the region; deep limestone canyons, rivers, and lakes (reservoirs) are common. Ashe juniper is perhaps the most common woody species found throughout the region. Additional woody species include various species of oak, with live oak (Quercus fusiformis) being the most common. Sycamores (Platanus occidentalis) and bald cypress (Taxodium distichum) border waterways. This area is well known for its spring wildflower displays, though they may be viewed in spring, late summer, and fall, as well. According to Texas Parks and Wildlife, average annual rainfall in the Edwards Plateau ranges from 15 to 34 inches.

The Blackland Prairie extends from the Red River south to San Antonio, bordered on the west by the Edwards Plateau and the Cross Timbers, and on the east by the Post Oak Savannah. Annual rainfall averages 30 to 40 inches, with higher averages to the east. This region is dominated by prairie species. The most common grass species include little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Indian grass (Sorghastrum nutans) in the uplands and switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) in the riparian areas and drainages. Common herbaceous flowering plants include salvias, penstemons, and silphiums. This area has suffered greatly from overgrazing and agricultural use. Few intact areas remain, though many of the plants can be found along county roadsides throughout the region.

Our four host chapters (New Braunfels, Lindheimer, Guadalupe, and the Hill Country chapters) are located in one or both of the ecoregions above. However, the eastern portion of Guadalupe County also falls within the Post Oak Savanna ecoregion. Annual rainfall averages 35 to 45 inches, with higher averages to the east. A wide variety of hardwood trees are found, including several species of oaks, elms, and in the Bastrop area, loblolly pine (Pinus taeda). Grasses and forbs dominate in the open savannas, with most common grass being little bluestem. Ranching, agriculture, and fire suppression have allowed woody species to encroach on the once-open savannas.

Source: Wildflowers of Texas by Michael Eason