Connecticut Audbon Society

Homegrown Habitat

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds delight people throughout Connecticut. Photo copyright Tomas Koeck.

A New Feature To Help You Attract More Birds To Your Property

How enjoyable would it be if more birds and butterflies visited your yard? And how much better would it be for wildlife if they could find more of the plants they need to thrive?

We’re creating this web feature—Homegrown Habitat—to help you make that happen. Because if you attract more birds to your yard, you’ll also attract more butterflies, bees, moths, small mammals, and beneficial animals of all kinds.

Homegrown Habitat provides advice on what and where to plant, one per month, written by Sarah W. Middeleer, a landscape designer whose work focuses on ecology and designing for wildlife.

Sarah is also vice chair of Connecticut Audubon’s Board of Directors.

We’ll add videos, lists of native plants, and more.

We also want to hear from you, so send us your questions, tell us what has worked for you in your yard:

Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly by Michael Audette

Hello, from our native plant expert

Greetings, bird lovers!

Native plants have co-evolved over eons with local insects and birds to form a natural balance that benefits all of them.

But development has resulted in serious degradation and loss of habitat, forcing many birds and other kinds of wildlife to try to find sustenance in urban and suburban settings. Luckily, many native plants are well suited to these conditions and also bear features that make them highly attractive to people.

Native plants are not always easily available, and so they may also be unfamiliar to many readers.

Nurseries that sell native plants exclusively are, unfortunately, all too rare. But recently, general-purpose nurseries and garden centers have begun to offer more native plants. It’s important to ask your local plant sellers to carry more natives. Also, public botanic gardens often offer plants for sale.

I hope you’ll find this monthly column enjoyable and informative. Please send comments and questions to  . We look forward to your feedback!

Sarah W. Middeleer


January 2023: Eastern Red Cedar

Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a handsome evergreen conifer that offers structure and winter interest to our gardens. It is often overlooked, but cedar has much to offer the home gardener and is a magnet for birds and many species of butterflies and moths.


December 2022: Winterberry

  Homegrown Habitat provides advice on what and where to plant, one per month, written by Sarah W. Middeleer, a landscape designer whose work focuses on ecology and designing for wildlife. Sarah serves as vice chair of the Connecticut Audubon Board of Directors. Write to her at Winterberry Ilex verticillata December 15, 2022 — […]


November 2022: Witch Hazel—A native plant with deep roots in Connecticut’s history

November 17, 2022 — Common witch hazel is, in the words of Edwin Way Teale, “a botanical individualist.” As I researched this remarkable plant, I couldn’t agree more. I would add that its individuality extends to historical and cultural realms as well. This large deciduous shrub is the last plant to come into bloom each year in the Northeast; its Y-shaped branches have been used as divining rods to discover underground water; it has played a fascinating role in Connecticut’s industrial history; and its extract has been hailed for hundreds of years as a balm for irritated skin, among other maladies, and continues to be used in cosmetics and personal care products to this day.


October 2022: Tupelo

October 24, 2022 — Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica) is native to so many regions (from Ontario south to Florida, Texas and Mexico, and west to Michigan and Wisconsin) that it has many other common names, including nyssa, sour gum, black gum, and pepperidge. This elegant deciduous tree is at its ornamental best in fall, when its foliage transitions from yellow to apricot, orange, and bright scarlet.


This Invasive Plant Symposium can help you improve your property for birds

October 24, 2022 — The Connecticut Audubon Society is co-sponsoring an upcoming symposium that can help you improve your property for birds and plants. The theme is Strategies for Managing Invasive Plants: Assess, Remove, Replace, and Restore.


September 2022: American Hazelnut

The series starts with a plant that is at its best in autumn — the American hazelnut. Also known as American filbert, this hazelnut is a native shrub that produces nutritious nuts similar in flavor to its cousin the European filbert. But it’s often grown to serve birds and other wildlife.


Video: practical advice from Pete Picone of the CT DEEP

Peter Picone, who has worked as a wildlife biologist for more than three decades for the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, spoke at our 2020 Annual Meeting. His talk, “Wildlife and Habitat Are Inextricably Linked: Enhancing Habitat One Native Plant At A Time,” is filled with practical ways for you to improve your […]





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