Birds are getting a boost in North Carolina through a new program dedicated to buying, selling and growing bird-friendly native plants. Audubon North Carolina’s Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year program has developed a unique approach to bird conservation ­– connecting growers and gardeners to build a thriving native plant economy.

The Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year program reaches every type of plant consumer connecting them with local businesses ready tosupply bird-friendly natives. To date, more than 60 wholesalers, retailers,landscapers and landscape design professionals have joined the program.

Native plants are increasing in popularity in North Carolina, but non-native plants are still widely used in homes and public spaces. Whether plants are native or non-native makes a big difference to birds; research shows that native plants support much higher numbers of insects and caterpillars – the main food backyard birds feed their chicks. Working directly with industry leaders to identify challenges and offer solutions, Audubon is driving the effort to buy, sell and grow more plants that benefit birds and our environment.

“Native plants are great for birds and people; they are easy to grow, resilient to our state’s climate, and provide food birds need to grow and thrive,” said Audubon NC Executive Director Heather Hahn. “We’re always seeking new and innovative ways to engage communities to protect birds, and we’re excited to connect thousands of Audubon supporters to their local native plant growers and retailers across the state.”

When growers and retailers sign-up to join the Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year program, they gain access to a statewide network of gardeners ready to purchase select bird-friendly native plants. Audubon NC supports its retail partners with a recommended growing list, marketing materials, signage and plant tags, listing on the organization website, andregular promotions to ensure that both supply and demand for bird-friendly native plants continues to grow.

“Carolina Native Nursery is proud to partner with Audubon North Carolina and the Bird-Friendly Native Plants of the Year program,” said Bill Jones, Carolina Native Nursery. “Through Audubon’s efforts to increase the public’s awareness of the vital relationship between native plants and birds, more gardeners have come to our nursery to shop. Plus, we are hearing from local garden centers that their clients are requesting more natives too.”