Top 10 Trees & Shrubs for Attracting Birds
Written by: Dottie Baltz
To attract birds to your yard, you first need a food source and then a source for shelter. You can provide those two things in one easy step by planting the right trees and shrubs.
Many of the same trees and shrubs that the birds will like are also pleasing to us as well. They usually have attractive foliage and many have beautiful flowers in spring. Check out my top 10 favorite trees and shrubs (in no particular order) for attracting birds.
- Mulberry - Hardy to Zone 7
I know, why would I pick a plant I can't even grow, but a lot of the country can and it is a great tree for attracting blue jays, mocking birds, robins, waxwings, cardinals, and other songbirds. The juice from the berries will stain everything, so I suggest growing it far away from your home in an out of the way place. Better for homes with acreage.
- Winterberry - Hardy to Zone 3
I absolutely love this holly shrub. It prefers an acid soil and will grow in sun as well as light shade. It doesn't mind being wet from time to time either. Dropping it's glossy leaves in fall it reveals beautiful red berries that the birds can feast on all winter. The female produces berries so you will need to plant at least one male nearby for pollination. Attracts robins, bluebirds, waxwings,wild turkeys and quail. Stems loaded with berries also look great in a dried flower arrangement.
- Dogwood - Hardy to Zone 2
Dogwood is a favorite of northern gardeners. Depending on the variety, you can have blooms for up to four straight months as some bloom early, mid and late in the spring season. The berries that form after the flowers fade are usually a gorgeous red color and are attractive into the autumn months. Robins, catbirds, cardinals, bluebirds, thrushes, tanagers, grosbeaks and warblers would be so happy if you planted some type of dogwood in your yard.
- Hawthorne - Hardy to Zone 3
Hawthornes are long-lived shrub-like trees that can grow to nearly 400 years old. Though most species have thorny leaves, there are a few that don't, if that is a concern for you. Hawthorne is also an excellent source of protection from predators.
- Highbush Cranberry Viburnum - Hardy to Zone 2
A great shrub for smaller landscapes, this viburnum is a favorite of robins, bluebirds, catbirds, cardinals, finches, thrushes and waxwings. I often see the birds sitting in my viburnums all summer long. These shrubs are easy to grow and prefer full-sun with moist well drained soil.
- American Bittersweet - Hardy to Zone 3
You'll need to plant one male for every five females of this unique viney-shrub. The blooms are a yellow-green color with bright orange berries that more than a dozen birds will love to eat in winter. Not only do the birds enjoy these poisonous berries, but so do grouse, pheasant, fox, and squirrel
- Elderberry - Hardy to Zone 3
I absolutely love my elderberry bush. I have the 'Black Lace' variety and the dark leaves are a pleasant change to all the green in the landscape. The delicate, almost lace-like flowers are really beautiful. Starting out on the pink side, they fade to white after a week or so. Small black berries form later and stay on the plant a few weeks before they misteriously disappear in late summer.
- Crab Apple - Hardy to Zone 2
Another tree perfect for smaller landscapes, the crab apple is so dramatic during spring. The blooms are so prolific, it looks like it snowed when the petals start to fall. Look for varieties that have fruits smaller than 1/2 inch in diameter to attract the widest variety of birds. Crab apples come in pink, red and white blooming varieties with fruits ranging from red to pink. Not only will crab apple attract song birds, but some woodpeckers may dine on the fruits as well.
- White Oak - Hardy to Zone 5
This majestic tree is better for larger landscapes and will produce acorns every year which is why it is so important for some birds. Not only will you be providing food for woodpeckers, jays, turkeys, grouse, pheasants, grackles, and wood ducks, but squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks as well.
- Pine Tree - Hardiness Varies from Zone 1-10
Not only do pine trees provide nesting sites for birds, the pine nuts they produce in the cones are a valuable source of food for many birds. There is a variety of pine that will grow in nearly any type of climate. Research what will grow well in your area and what will be the appropriate size for your site. Pines are also pleasant to look at in winter when there is nothing green left in the landscape.