Your Best Bird and Butterfly Photos

Enjoy this slideshow of 20 of the most captivating photos submitted by and Nature's Garden readers.

Cleared for Takeoff

Nature's Garden reader marhowie snapped this remarkable shot of a northern cardinal taking flight. A cardinal's wingspan can reach up to 12 inches, and males are slightly larger and a brighter red than females. These birds love seeds, so try sunflower or safflower seeds at your feeder and you'll be seeing red.

Colorful Caller

This clouded sulphur butterfly was spotted by Nature's Garden reader mccaffertyjanice on a Virginia farm. Look for clouded sulphurs in groups among clover and alfalfa fields, and even around mud puddles. In addition to clover or alfalfa, try planting tall verbena or leaving a few dandelions to invite these pretty friends over for a meal.

Royal Visitor

Named after French nobleman Louis Marie Pantaleon Costa, Costa's hummingbirds are most common in southwestern United States and Baja California Peninsula in Mexico. On males such as this one, photographed by reader blbknyg757931, a stunning crown of regal purple attracts potential mates. Look for courting males to show off in a series of intricate high-speed dives, carefully angling themselves in order to highlight their beautiful coloring in the sun. These beauties prefer arid habitats such as Joshua trees and cholla cacti.

Flirting with Fragrance

Eastern tiger swallowtails are generally found on the East Coast, but you can spot them as far west as Colorado. Their larvae love the leaves of trees and shrubs such as cottonwood, sweet bay, and cherry, and adults are attracted to yarrow and hollyhock. reader DLThompson06 posted this great photo of an eastern tiger swallowtail stopping in to drink from a verbena.


It's no wonder this male ruby-throated hummingbird looks a bit disgruntled; Nature's Garden reader mystified45 photographed him on a frosty morning in Arkansas. Each winter, ruby-throated hummingbirds seek a warmer climate by flying nonstop across the Gulf of Mexico at a wing speed of up to 75 wing beats per second! Invite them to your garden with lilies, irises, and salvia.

Bon Apetit

The monarch has earned its name as the ruler of all American butterflies: It is the official insect of seven U.S. states and was even nominated as the country's official insect. reader kelthompson13 snapped this monarch snacking on a delicate purple coneflower. Plant milkweed, butterfly bush, or blood flower to lure these lovely creatures to your garden.

Mom, We're Hungry! reader jimsha3049378 captured these baby robins ready for a hearty meal. American robins prefer to eat mealworms, suet, and berries, so be sure to have plenty on hand if you want to invite these little guys to your garden.

Peaceful Guest

This graceful mourning dove paid a visit to reader rbl212, who photographed it at her home. Look for mourning doves at your birdbath around dawn and dusk, when they prefer to drink, or tempt them with pine nuts, sweet gum seeds, or canary grass.

Cozy Companion reader englek1582889 calls this calliope hummingbird her "li'l buddy." The calliope is the smallest bird in the United States, and typically nests under an overhanging conifer branch. We can't promise all hummingbirds will be this social, but planting columbine, honeysuckle, or lantana will certainly entice them to stop by!

Hey, Mr. Postman

This postman butterfly is certainly beautiful, and his bright colors are a warning sign to hungry birds that he's not a tasty treat. Nature's Garden reader degravesb caught him on camera at a butterfly show. Postman butterflies prefer passionflowers, and tend to stay in Central and South America.

Family Portrait

This family of blue jays was captured on film by reader petunias3524962. Blue jays mate for life, and travel as a family until early fall, when the young jays set out on their own to decrease competition for food during winter. Stock your yard with peanuts, corn, sunflower seeds or suet to charm these intelligent and assertive birds.

Living Art

The painted bunting is one of the most colorful birds in the United States, so it makes sense that when grouped, they're called a palette or mural. Nature's Garden reader marhowie spotted this one in Texas. Because of decreasing habitat and climate change, the painted bunting population has declined significantly in the last three decades. The gorgeous bird is now considered "Near Threatened," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.

Lazy Afternoon Stroll reader bkacker3156129 photographed this great egret taking a tour of the neighborhood. Great egrets prefer warm climates and like to eat fish, frogs, and small mammals, so keep an eye out for them near bodies of water in the South.

Just Hanging Out

Nature's Garden reader Michael Yates spotted this downy woodpecker at his peanut feeder. This species is the smallest woodpecker in North America and likes to forage on trees and insects. In winter, try beckoning them to your backyard with suet.

Oh, Hello!

This female ruby-throated hummingbird peeked out at Nature's Garden reader MichClare's camera. Male ruby-throated hummingbirds are distinguished from females by the bright red throat patch that gives the species its name. And the penchant for red isn't just in their coloring: Hummingbirds tend to prefer sweet nectar from red flowers, so try planting dahlia, bee balm, or lantana to entice them to your garden.

Winged Wonder reader lorettainpetaluma snapped this seaside beggar while on vacation in California. We're impressed at the steady hand; it's not easy balancing a camera and a bird!

Lovely Landing

Nature's Garden reader mccaffertyjanice snapped this cloudless sulphur resting on an azalea in Florida. Try planting bougainvillea or lantana to beckon these bright butterflies to your garden.

Feeding Frenzy

Hummingbirds at kathrynlittle76's feeder will just have to take a number! The Nature's Garden reader took this photo at her former home in New Mexico. These graceful birds can't resist a feeder like this one, filled with sweet sugar water.

Whistle While You Perch

Nature's Garden reader Ontario Joe caught a glimpse of this rose-breasted grosbeak in early spring. The rose-breasted grosbeak is a songbird, but unlike most other songbirds, both the female and male are known to sing. These beautiful birds like to munch on insects, seeds, and berries, so be sure to include those in your landscape if you'd like a sweet song filling your yard.

Center of Attention

This pearl crescent was spotted by Nature's Garden reader jeanbhall in Massachusetts. Pearl Crescents prefer areas such as pastures, fields, and open woods. If you'd like to tempt them to stop by, try planting asters and fleabanes or letting a thistle or two grow in your yard.

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