As a place to see unusual birds, the Southwest is a top destination. Gardeners in the region can lure some of these unusual bird species simply by planting seed plants for them to enjoy. Some of the seed-eating birds you can attract include doves, quail, finches, sparrows, cardinals, and Pyrrhuloxias. Here are a few of the best plants for attracting desert birds to your garden:
Baja fairy duster (Calliandra californica), hailing from Mexico's Baja peninsula, produces red-tufted flowers that mature into little seedpods enjoyed by quail. The plant also attracts hummingbirds. This 4-foot-tall, 4-foot-wide shrub is hardy to Zone 9.
Firewheel (Gaillardia pulchella) can be in bloom 10 months in a row, which means it also produces seed 10 months in a row -- a fact not lost on the finches and sparrows that visit it frequently. Its yellow and red flowers liven up perennial planting schemes and reach 2 feet tall and 1 foot wide; hardy to Zone 5.
Parry's Penstemon (Penstemon parryi) are often visited by finches, who flex the tall flower stalks like pole-vaulters to get at the seed; hardy to Zone 8.