Plants for Wild Birds
Seven types of plants are important as bird
Conifers are evergreen trees and shrubs that
include pines, spruces, firs, arborvitae, junipers, cedars, and yews.
These plants are important as escape cover, winter shelter and summer
nesting sites. Some also provide sap, fruits and seeds.
Grasses and Legumes
Grasses and legumes can provide cover for ground
nesting birds-but only if the area is not mowed during the nesting
season. Some grasses and legumes provide seeds as well. Native prairie
grasses are becoming increasingly popular for landscaping purposes.
Nectar-producing plants are very popular for
attracting hummingbirds and orioles. Flowers with tubular red corollas
are especially attractive to hummingbirds. Other trees, shrubs, vines
and flowers also can provide nectar for hummingbirds.
This category includes plants that produce
fruits or berries from May through August. In the summer these plants
can attract 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
This landscape component includes shrubs and
vines whose fruits ripen in the fall. These foods are important both
for migratory birds which build up fat reserves before migration and
as a food source for nonmigratory species that need to enter the
winter season in good physical condition. Fall-fruiting plants include
dogwoods, mountain ash, winter-berries, cottoneasters and
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 many
times. Examples are glossy black chokecherry, Siberian and "red
splendor" crabapple, snowberry, bittersweet, sumacs, American
highbush cranberry, eastern and European wahoo, Virginia creeper, and
Nut and Acorn Plants
These include oaks, hickories, buckeyes,
chestnuts, butternuts, walnuts and hazels. A variety of birds, such as
jays, woodpeckers and titmice, eat the meats of broken nuts and acorns
These plants also contribute to good nesting habitat.