Audubon Native Plants Improves Native Habitat on Pond Apple Trail

provided to The Santiva Chronicle

Sanibel-Captiva Audubon received a grant from Florida Power and Light and Audubon Florida to enhance migratory and resident bird habitat and forage in an area of Pond Apple Park. The project was a partnership with the City of Sanibel Natural Resources Department, Sanibel-Captiva Conservation Foundation, and Sanibel-Captiva Audubon.

Native plantings in both urban and natural settings are critical to the future survival of resident and migratory birds. A majority of landscape plants available in nurseries are not native to southwest Florida. Unfortunately, birds and insects do not recognize non-native plants as food sources with certain plants being inedible. Choosing to only fill your landscape with non-native plants creates food deserts for birds and insects. Studies have shown that native plants are a key tool in increasing bird diversity and abundance as they provide food, shelter, and protection for birds and insects.

In an effort to improve native habitat, a total of 270 native plants, selected from the Audubon Native Plant list and purchased from SCCF Native Plant Nursery, were planted under a canopy of native trees that lacked understory vegetation. The plants included a variety of native shrubs and groundcovers that produce berries and/or host insects that are important to bird diets.

A sign acknowledging the multi-agency partnership was installed on the Pond Apple Park trail and provides educational information about the important role of native plants for birds. Visitors traveling the trail will gain a better understanding of the importance of native habitat for local flora and fauna.

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