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  • Melissa Mackey

Creating a Bird-Friendly Garden with Native Plants

Please join the Beltsville Garden Club (BGC) for a monthly meeting at the Duckworth School, 11202 Evans Trail, Beltsville, MD, on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, at 7:30 pm.

Speaker Claudia Ferguson of the Prince George’s Audubon Society will present Creating a Bird-Friendly Garden with Native Plants.

April 22, 2020, marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. If you enjoy gardening and have been considering how to honor this special day, there is an opportunity within your abilities, and your moment has come! Gardeners have the ability to do something that most people can only dream of: to bring life and beauty to their gardens while enhancing local biodiversity and attracting butterflies, pollinators, and birds. By growing native plants, each patch of habitat you create joins a collective effort to sustain living resident birds and migratory birds passing through. Most of America’s original natural habitats have been lost to agriculture and urban development. Gardening with native plants in our backyards can provide essential food in the form of nuts, seeds, fruit, and nectar for birds threatened by climate change. These plants are adapted to local precipitation and soil conditions and generally require less upkeep. Native plants help the environment by providing food and shelter for birds while saving water, pesticide use, maintenance effort, time, and money.

Audubon experts have selected the optimal plants for birds that would grow well within your zip code. This database is free and available at For a zip code within Prince George’s County area, there are approximately 133 optimal native species to create bird-friendly gardens. Among these plants are trees, shrubs, annuals, perennials, grasses, and evergreens you can choose from. Choosing any of these optimal native plants for birds helps to provide them with the food and shelter they need to thrive all year long. Also, gardening and watching backyard bird activity contributes to a sense of well-being for the gardener and garden visitors. It fosters a connection with nature and prompts gratitude for the biodiversity we can create around us.

Wherever you live, wherever your garden is located, some careful choices of native plants can make a difference by attracting the birds you love and protecting them in the face of habitat loss and climate change. Please visit and enter your 5-digit zip code to explore the best plants for birds in your area as well as local resources and links to more information.

Claudia Ferguson’s life-long passion for nature, wildlife, and birds started during early childhood while playing outdoors in her native tropical Cuba and exploring the rural Patagonian landscape when her family moved to the southern tip of South America. During her undergraduate years, she studied agriculture and the environmental factors that affect it. She received a B.S. Degree in Agronomy from the University of Cuyo in Argentina. During her graduate studies, she learned about tropical crop production and natural resources conservation and received a Master’s Degree in Agricultural Sciences from the University of Costa Rica.

In the United States, Claudia’s federal career began in 1996 with the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). She currently works on international trade policy to address plant health risks associated with trade. As a senior regulatory policy specialist, her work involves facilitating international trade in agricultural commodities with import requirements that safeguard American agriculture and natural resources from foreign pests and diseases. Claudia is a board member for Prince George’s Audubon Society, a local chapter of the National Audubon Society. Audubon is dedicated to protecting birds and the habitats they need. Having lived in several countries and traveled to many more, Claudia relates to birds and the perils they endure with the increasing loss of habitats they encounter during migration.

Claudia lives in Hyattsville. Her backyard has been recognized by the Audubon Society as a Bird-Friendly Habitat. The National Wildlife Federation certified her property as a wildlife habitat for providing the four basic elements needed for wildlife to thrive: food, water, cover, and places to raise their young. Claudia speaks publicly on gardening with native plants to promote a collective effort to support birds in urban and suburban landscapes.

BGC meetings are open to the public; there is no fee. Refreshments are served after the speaker’s program. We thank all attendees who contribute to the refreshment table and who bring a plant or plant-related item for the door prize drawing. Should Prince George’s County Public Schools be closed, the meeting will be canceled.

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