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Bird Gardens

With our new bird gardens, the Los Angeles Zoo is inviting our wild, feathered neighbors—and migratory visitors—to make themselves at home. Join us by creating a bird-friendly garden at your home, too.

Native birds are in trouble. “Flying south for winter” today involves avoiding predators, pesticides, windows, and more. Many birds don’t survive this long journey, let alone the return trip. The Los Angeles Zoo is helping birds, and you can too with simple changes to your porch, patio, or yard!

1. Reduce the lawn and add some plant variety. Plants provide birds with shelter from harsh weather and predators, building materials for their nests, and food form fruits, seeds, and nectar.

2. Include water for bathing and drinking.

3. Use logs, bushes, and decaying plant matter to give birds protection and attract insects, an important food source for many birds.

Bird Gardens at the L.A. Zoo

California Garden

California gardens bursts to life with winter rains. Grasses and annuals turn to gold over the course of long, dry summers. Use drought-tolerant native plants to provide birds food and shelter throughout the year.

Acorn Woodpecker (Photo by Charlie Morey)

Birds you might see here include:
Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus)
Western Scrub Jay (Aphelocoma californica)
American Bushtit (Psaltriparus minimus)

Photo by Bob Wickham

Toyon
Heteromeles arbutifolia
Toyon occurs in chaparral communities throughout much of California. In 2012 Toyon was named the official native plant of the City of Los Angeles.

Photo by Carol Aronson

White Sage
Salvia apiana
Native to the southern coast ranges and inner mountains of California, this plant was used by Native American for food, medicinal, and spiritual purposes.

Photo by Sandy Masuo

California Fuchsia
Epilobium canum
Found throughout the Southwest, this plant is an important nectar source for hummingbirds due to its late-season blooms.

Baja California Garden

Gardens featuring plants native to Baja California, Mexico use little water and are low-maintenance. Add an easily-cleaned water basin as an extra attraction for birds in this dry, arid habitat.

Mourning Dove (Photo by Jamie Pham)

Birds you might see here include:
Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)
White-Crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys)
Black-Chinned Hummingbird (Archilochus alexandri)

Photo by Sandy Masuo

Bottle Palm
Beaucarnia recurvate
This large succulent is native to the semi-desert areas of central to southeastern Mexico. It provides shelter and nesting sites for birds.

Photo by Sandy Masuo

Elephant Bush
Pachycormus discolor
This member of the cashew family is endemic to the Baja California, Mexico peninsula. It offers perching and food for small birds.

Photo by Sandy Masuo

Elephant Tree
Bursera microphylla
Related to frankincense, this aromatic shrub is found in arid regions of the southwestern U.S. and northwestern Mexico. It provides perching and food for birds.

North America Garden

Gardens with plants from western North America bloom when the warmth of spring reaches their particular location. Limit sprinkler water and follow the seasons to help migratory birds find food sources as they move from one region to the next.

Spotted Towhee (Photo by Jamie Pham)

Birds you might see here include:
Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus)
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos)
Black-Headed Grosbeak (Pheucticas melanocephalus)

Photo by Carol Aronson

California Coffeeberry
Rhamnus californica
This shrub occurs in a variety of habitats throughout California, the Southwestern U.S., and Baja California, Mexico. Its berries are an important food source for wildlife.

Photo courtesy of Wouter Hagens

Lindheimer’s Beeblossom
Oenothera lindheimeri
The native range of this plant is from southeastern Texas east into to Louisiana and south into Mexico. It is an important food source for birds and pollinators.

Photo by Sandy Masuo

Hummingbird Sage
Salvia spathacea
Native to southern and central California, the attractive flowering spikes of this sage are an important food source for hummingbirds.

Australasia Garden

Gardens with plants from the Mediterranean climates of Australia and Asia are often successful in Los Angeles with our cool wet winters and warm dry summers. Cut back plants in early autumn to ensure a healthy bloom in spring.

California Towhee (Photo by Jamie Pham)

Birds you might see here include:
Bewick’s Wren (Thryomanes bewickii)
American Robin (Turdus migratorius)
California Towhee (Pipilo crissalis)

Photo courtesy of James Gaither

Ohi’a Lehua
Metrosideros collina ‘Springfire’
This flowering evergreen tree in the myrtle family is found throughout the Pan Pacific region. It is an important source of nectar for birds and pollinators.

Photo by Sandy Masuo

Dwarf Bottlebrush Tree
Callistemon hybrid
Most bottlebrush species occur in eastern Australia, from the tropical north to the temperate south. It is an important source of nectar for birds and pollinators.

Photo courtesy of A. Barra

Parney’s Cotoneaster
Cotoneaster parneyi
Native to Asia, this shrub adapts to a wide range of conditions. Clusters of small white flowers produce bright red berries in fall and winter–an important food source for birds.

Africa Garden

Group plants with similar water needs together for easy care and maintenance. These plants from different regions in Africa all require very little water once established.

Hooded Oriole (Photo by Robert McMillan)

Birds you might see here include:
Anna’s Hummingbird (Calypte anna)
Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)
Rufous-Crowned Sparrow (Aimophila ruficeps)

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Snowball Viburnum
Viburnum tinus
Native to North Africa and the Mediterranean region of Europe, this shrub prefers shady, moist areas but tolerates dry conditions as well.

Photo courtesy of Martin Fletcher

Pincushion Flower
Scabiosa farinosa
Native to the hot Mediterranean climate of Tunisia in northern Africa, both birds and insect pollinators are attracted to this shrub’s lavender flowers.

Photo by Tad Montoya

Bird of Paradise
Strelitzia regina
Native to the eastern coast of South Africa, this plant has become a popular landscape selection in dry regions around the world. It is the official flower of the City of Los Angeles.

South America Garden

Some birds migrate across continents. These plants, native to Mexico, Central, and South America, might be familiar to the rufous hummingbird, whose migration takes it from Alaska to Mexico and back.

Black Phoebe (Photo by Matt Carey)

Birds you might see here include:
Black Phoebe (Saynoris nigricans)
Dark-Eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus)

Photo courtesy of Forest & Kim Starr

Red Powder Puff
Calliandra haematocephala
This densely branched shrub is native to South America. Under the right conditions, it can bloom year round, providing food and shelter for birds.

Photo by Tad Montoya

Sword Fern
Nephrolepis exaltata
This fern is a common landscape plant native to the Americas. It provides birds with hiding areas and nesting materials.

Photo courtesy of Scott Zona

Coahuila Sage
Salvia coahuilensis
This beautiful sage comes from the mountains of the Sierra Madre Occidental in the province of Coahuila, Mexico. The purple flowers attract hummingbirds and other pollinators.

Bird Garden Artists

The Los Angeles Zoo would like to thank Artists & Biologists Unite for Nature and all of the talented individuals that participated in this project.

Silvia Abramant
Diana Andersen
Sü Art‎offace
Pilan Sue Butts
Henry Males Castellanos‎
Dema Clark
Lois Davis
Diane Dudzik
Sue DuVall
Gloria Ester
Geraldo Junior França‎
Susan Green
Timea Gresens

April Grossruck
Joyce Hartmann
Kitty Harvill
Petey Hernández‎
Grace Innemee
Colleen Laird
Lucy Wen Lin
Larissa M. Lopes
Anne Lyon
Judith MacKay
Kenney Maggard
Charla L. Mathews
Jerri-Ann Mock

Natalya Pavlushina
Carola Perez
Snah Rethcaboeb
Maureen Rousseau
Cynthia Schanink‎
Marion Schön‎
Andrea Siemt
Mary Ann Stafford
Cheryl Thomas
Birgitte Tümmler‎
Peter Ward
Shary Weckwerth

More About Birds and Bird Gardens

More About Native Plants and Bird Gardens

Learn more about starting your own bird garden and the plants best suited for the Southern California climate.

Coloring Activity

Print and color some native wildlife, courtesy of Nat’alya Pavlushina Art and ABUN!

Birds at the L.A. Zoo

View the list of birds on exhibit at the Zoo or in the World of Birds Show.

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