Attracting Birds

Birds are a delight in the garden and landscape, and can also be beneficial by feeding on pest insects and pollinating plants. Attracting birds to your yard can be easy by providing their basic needs of food, water, and shelter, with the right plants and just a few accessories.

Certain plants provide seed, fruit, sap, or shelter for various species of birds. The best environments include a variety of plants to meet the needs of different bird species at different points in the season. Native plants are especially attractive and beneficial for many reasons, including hosting essential insects that birds feed on and ideal nesting conditions. Native plants create bird-friendly habitat for nesting and protection from predators, whereas many weedy shrubs such as buckthorn and honeysuckle have characteristics, such as low branches, that make birds more susceptible to predation when nesting. Shrubs that are good for nesting include speckled alder, American elderberry, roses, willows, and ninebark, and common juniper and arborvitae is good for shelter.

Many gardeners remove all perennial stalks, debris, and leaf litter in the fall, but leaving it over the winter can provide much needed food and shelter for birds. As a bonus, it adds visual interest to an otherwise dull winter landscape and can help insulate perennials.

Plant
Benefit
Plant
Benefit
Trees
Perennials
All JunipersFruitAquilegiaNectar
Birch TreesShelter / Sap / SeedsAsclepiasNectar
CherriesFruitAstersSeeds
ChokeberryFruitCoreopsisSeeds
Crabapple – persistent varietiesFruitDianthusNectar
Evergreen TreesShelter / Sap / SeedsEchinaceaSeeds
Maple TreesShelter / Sap / SeedsGlobe ThistleSeeds
PlumsFruitHelianthusSeeds
PrunesFruitLimoniumNectar
ServiceberryFruitOrnamental GrassSeeds
Shrubs
RudbeckiaSeeds
BarberryFruitScabiosaNectar
BlueberriesFruit
Vines
ChokeberryFruitBittersweetFruit / Shelter
CotoneasterFruitGrapesFruit / Shelter
CurrantsFruitHoneysuckleShelter
ElderberryFruitIvyFruit / Shelter
EvergreensShelterTrumpet CreeperFruit / Shelter
HoneysuckleFruit
Annuals
JuniperFruitBachelor ButtonsSeeds
RaspberriesFruitCalendulaSeeds
Redtwig DogwoodFruitCosmosSeeds
ServiceberryFruitMarigoldSeeds
Shrub RosesRose HipsMoss RosesSeeds
StrawberriesFruitSunflowersSeeds
Viburnum, ArrowwoodFruitZinniasSeeds
Viburnum, CranberryFruit
WinterberryFruit

Attracting Birds with Water

Birds are drawn to water for drinking and bathing, and birdbaths provide the perfect shallow water they need. Changing the birdbath’s water daily is recommended for the hygiene and health of the birds, and to prevent mosquitoes. If water isn’t changed daily, a dose of liquid Bird Bath Cleanse can be added to the water, according to directions, to keep it clean. Clean the bath occasionally by emptying it of water, and scrubbing with a bird bath brush using a mild detergent, being sure to thoroughly rinse afterwards since birds are sensitive to detergents.

Fountains are also a great way to attract birds, as they are drawn to the sound and movement of running water.

Bird Feed

See article “Bird Feed Basics