Birds in your yard could add thousands to Lubbock home values

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Having more than one unique bird species in your Lubbock yard could increase property value more than $30,000 according to a recently published Texas Tech study in Conservation Magazine.

Tech researchers tell us the birds are really after a variety of shrubs, bushes, and other landscaping that not only attract the feathered friends, but bring curb appeal to interested home buyers.

Students and two professors, including Dr. Michael Farmer, researched nearly 400 homes for sale in 17 Lubbock neighborhoods in 2008-2009.

"Students would listen to bird calls that were kind of an unusual kind. The houses on those streets were as much as $30,000 higher on average," Farmer said.

The median value of the homes sold was $134,000. Dr. Farmer said they compared homes with similar square footage and layout.

Farmer said the idea to listen to bird calls came because of the difficulty of studying the vegetation in the yards of hundreds of homes.

We spoke to a realtor at Rush Realty who wasn't sure about birds adding value, but did say that vegetation often influences a property's worth.

Farmer says it is important to have different types of plants.

"We know people value diverse vegetation," Farmer continued. "A few things that [grow] low, a few things that are up at the shoulders, a few things at the level of the ceiling, and of course a tree canopy," he said.

Farmer said birds like the variety in plant life, but so do prospective home buyers. Tech's study showed homes with more than one species of less-common birds sold on average $32,028 more than those without.

So which species generates the most curb appeal in Lubbock?  

Dr. Mark Wallace is the ecology professor in the study. Over the phone he told us birds like blue jays, robins, cardinals, mockingbirds, and the goldfinch were on the list of what he called 'ubiquitous species.'

All of those birds can be found in the Hub City, but you may only see them outside your window if you have the plants they feed off of or nest in.

"What was missing most that we found that grows nicely here is bushes that are 5 to 6 feet high," Farmer said.

Wallace said native plants like the Ashe Juniper, Texas Sage, and Cherry or Mountain Laurels not only attract the 'ubiquitous species' but also withstand dry west Texas conditions.

"A lot of them have beautiful flowers especially in the summer, they take little water, they're easy to put up," Farmer told us.

Wallace recommends transplanting the shrubs rather than growing them from seeds. He said that once they've started to grow, they require little maintenance.

"If you have all of those, your water use is low and we know you're going to have a lot of bird diversity, but we also know that's very valuable, people enjoy that," Farmer said.

Copyright 2011 KCBD NewsChannel 11