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Lydia Robledo, multi-talented WBCP member who is also a member of the Philippine Butterfly Habitat Conservation Society and Philippine Native Plant Conservation Society describes how to turn an urban garden into an oasis for butterflies and birds.


Birds in My Butterfly Garden
by Lydia Robledo

“The lesson I have thoroughly learnt, and wish to pass on to others, is to know the enduring happiness that the love of a garden gives.”  Gertrude Jekyll

My garden is a butterfly garden.  It is a mini-forest where I have allowed plants, vines and grass to grow as they wish.  My friend, Sonia of Sonia’s garden, describes such garden as “orchestrated chaos”.  I have a couple of big trees -a golden shower that  is the larval host of the Catopsilia butterflies. The  coconut tree behind the house is where my Aristolochia (Dutchman’s pipe vine, hosts for the big birdwing caterpillars) make its “up-creep”.  I have allowed one lemoncito bush tree to grow tall and the others have been maintained as low hedges. They teem with red berries all year round. The Papilio larvae feast on the leaves to become Lime butterflies.

Photo by Lydia Robledo.
Olive-backed Sunbird nesting in a lemoncito tree. Photo by Lydia Robledo.

Aside from the larval host plants, flowers also attract all kinds of  adult butterflies.  I have planted Lantana camara, single-petaled Hibiscus, Passion vine, Chinese parasol and Heliconias in my garden.  Even with the abundant nectar source and larval host plants, the butterflies come only on certain seasons.  A delightful recompense for the absence of butterflies is the presence of a family of nectar feeding sunbirds that have taken residence in my garden.   Every day without fail, they merrily feed on the sweet nectar moving from  flower to flower.

Olive-backed Sunbird sipping nectar from a Passion vine flower. Photo by Lydia Robledo.
Olive-backed Sunbird on a Chinese Parasol plant. Photo by Lydia Robledo
Olive-backed Sunbird on a hibiscus. Photo by Lydia Robledo.

Likewise, the Yellow vented bulbuls are regular feasters of the lemoncito berries and mickey mouse seeds.  Not to be outsmarted, they also get their boost of nectar from the blooms, oftentimes bullying the sunbirds.  They also feed on insects and are joined by Pied fantails.

Every now and then the skittish Golden bellied flyeater and Low-land White Eyes make surprise stops in my garden.  My garden also had been visited by a Brush Cuckoo. A zebra dove or two daintily walk around the garden with the Eurasian tree sparrows. I also leave the leaf litters to rot in the dark corner of my garden, hoping that one day, the Black headed or Red bellied pitta will check the moist ground under the compost for some delectable worms.

A pair of Yellow-vented Bulbuls. Photo by Lydia Robledo.
Zebra Dove. Photo by Lydia Robledo.

If I had a bigger garden, I’d plant trees like the Anabiong, Alim, Bignay pugo and Balete,  which are sure favorites of  seed eating birds.

Flowers, plants and trees are our silent friends, but with the movement of birds and butterflies, the garden teems with life, the cheerping of the birds cheer the soul.  He who plants a bird and butterfly garden will experience pure delight.


  1. Aurora Ruizo-Agra

    I also have a Bird and Butterfly garden in my limited space around the home. Actually I raise butterflies indoor which started about 2 years ago. I really have to this, otherwise butterflies’ survival rate would be low as birds would prey on the caterpillars. Thank you for sharing your ideas and awesome photos. 🙂

    • paul

      ms. aurora, would like to know more about your butterflies.

      do you sell butterflies? plants for butterflies. if you have a list of plants to grow for butterflies, would you be so kind as to share it

      great thanks

  2. littleinkelf

    Wow! I’m going to get some of the plants mentioned here. 🙂 I am trying to build my own butterfly garden here at home. I already have Hibiscus, Lantana, forget-me-not, and climbing marigold plus bougainvillea. A while ago I saw a sunbird (according to your photo) in my garden so I am thinking of adding more to my garden for this cute bird. Any suggestions? 🙂 So far the butterflies that come to my garden are few but I’m not giving up on attracting them to my yard. 😀 hopefully the birds will come as well.

    • paul

      great day

      do you sell butterflies? plants for butterflies. if you have a list of plants to grow for butterflies, would you be so kind as to share it. my interest is really the plants since my intention at this time is simply to attract the butterflies to my farm

      no saying i would not raise butterflies. just might

      great thanks

  3. Lydia Robledo

    Paul. I don’t sell butterflies. I plant flowering plants rich in nectar to attract butterflies. I also plant the larval hosts. I need to know where your farm is so I know which butterflies are most likely in your area. Knowing the species would help identify the partner plant. Each butterfly species has a preferred larval host plant.

  4. Armand Belen

    Hi Ms Lydia, I am amazed by your blog. I also have a sunbird nest and ybv nest in our garden. Just visited circle to buy more nectar rich plants for them. But I cannot find the Chinese parasol or is that the same as chinese hat? Can you recommend where we can get one. thanks.

  5. Lydia Robledo

    Yes, Sir Armand. The Chinese parasol is the same as the chinese hat. There is an ongoing show at the QCMC. I had seen some a couple of weeks ago, perhaps they participated again this time. I also have seen in Centris. Where do you stay? I have a propagated cutting which I am selling for my NGO for P300.00, pick up in San Juan. You can pm me in FB or text me at 0917 8971775.

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