The birds in my neighborhood take
happily to natives and non-natives alike. A naturalist visited my house once and cringed at the sight of two dozen
double-breasted cormorants perched in the eucalyptus trees across the
street. The trees are the worst kind
of non-native: toxic, invasive, highly
flammable, but as long as the cormorants call them home, the trees will
remain. Same goes for the blackberry
bramble up and down my alleyway—my neighbors and I can’t bear to cut it back
when so many brown towhees and song sparrows are attracted to the berries.
Still, there are plenty of non-natives that
won’t take over the garden. For the
hummingbirds, set out foxglove, phlox, and bee balm. Let trumpet vine climb up your fence. Put in a climbing rose like “Cherokee Rose” (Rose laevigata) or a
deciduous shrub like “Geranium” (Rosa moyesii), for a tasty offering of rose
hips in the fall, as well as a good nesting site. Finally, who can resist a flowering plum or cherry tree? Try the bird cherry (Prunus padus), also
called maybush, for a beautiful show of white flowers in the spring and small
black fruits for the birds in the fall.