Plants for Wild Birds

Plants for Wild Birds

Seven types of plants are important as bird habitat:


     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

     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.

Summer-fruiting Plants

     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

Fall-fruiting Plants

     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, cotoneasters and buffalo-berries.

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 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 Chinaberry

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.

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