The Q&A Archives: Attracting Birds To The Garden

Question: What trees and shrubs will benefit and attract birds?

Answer: Birds need shelter, water, and food. If you provide a variety of plants in your garden, you're bound to have something that will be attractive to birds. Think about seeds and berries as food sources, a pond or birdbath for water, and dense shrubs or trees with high branches to provide shelter.

Start with summertime: This category includes plants that produce fruits or berries from May through August. Among birds that can be attracted in the summer are brown thrashers, catbirds, robins, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, orioles, cardinals, towhees, and grosbeaks. Examples of summer-fruiting plants are various species of cherry, chokecherry, honeysuckle, raspberry, serviceberry, blackberry, blueberry, grape, mulberry, plum, and elderberry.

Then add some fall-fruiting plants: This landscape component includes shrubs and vines whose fruits are ripe in the fall. These foods are important both for migratory birds which build up fat reserves prior to migration and as a food source for non-migratory species that need to enter the winter season in good physical condition. Fall-fruiting plants include dogwoods, mountain ash, winter-berries, cottoneasters, and buffalo-berries.

Finally, add winter-fruiting plants: Winter-fruiting plants are those whose fruits remain attached to the plants long after they first become ripe in the fall. Many are not palatable until they have frozen and thawed numerous times. Examples are glossy black chokecherry, Siberian and "red splendor" crabapple, snowberry, bittersweet, sumacs, American highbush cranberry, eastern and European wahoo, Virginia creeper, and Chinaberry.

Best wishes with your garden!

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