Traditional grass lawns and non-native plantings don't support local birds as well as "native" yards, the research published in the journal PLOS ONE said.
Conducted through the National Science Foundation's Central Arizona-Phoenix Long-Term Ecological Research center, the study looked at residential landscape types and native bird communities in Phoenix.
"To a desert bird, what's green is not necessarily good," said Doug Levey, program director in the NSF's Division of Environmental Biology.
"Arizona birds don't view lush urban landscapes as desert oases. The foraging behavior of birds in greener yards suggests that there's less food for them there than in yards with more natural vegetation."
Desert-like, or xeric, yards had a more even bird community and superior habitat compared with moist, or mesic, grass lawns, the researchers said.
"We already know that bird communities differ, and that there are more desert birds found in a desert-type yard," researcher Susannah Lerman of the University of Massachusetts-Amherst said.
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