The best way to attract birds is to do it naturally. The 4 main requirements birds have for survival is food, water, nesting and shelter. Your yard needs to provide these requirements in order to become a complete habitat to attract and retain birds. By adding the right trees & shrubs to your landscape you can provide shelter, materials and areas for nesting, food and singing posts used to defend their territories. And by taking a cue from nature, designing your bird-friendly garden can also look amazing too!
Design Techniques from Nature
- Plant in drifts – groupings & masses. This is how plants usually occur in the wild. It also promotes cross-pollination and boosts fertility which yields more fruit. It also will make it easier for the birds to spot their lunch
- Use Vertical Layers. Different birds prefer different levels for perching, nesting, finding shelter, and seeking protection from predators – from way up high in tree canopies to shrubs to the ground amongst groundcovers and perennials. More layers provide more options, and more options lead to wider diversity of birds.
- Plant a grouping of conifers – they provide year-round windbreaks, shelter, and nesting sites.
- Reduce open areas – Open areas have the least food and virtually no shelter, making them poor resources for birds as well as being vulnerable to predators. Widen flower beds, plant trees, and add shrubbery instead of grass – less to mow!
- Forget the manicured and neatly trimmed landscape. Leaf litter, longer grass and discarded piles of brush are highly attractive for birds because they are excellent sources of insects, nesting material, and shelter – mimic the appearance of bird’s natural habitats… this does NOT mean the entire yard has to be an overgrown jungle.
Factors to Consider When Selecting the Right Plants
- Select plants to provide for birds in every season. i.e. Serviceberry provides food in early summer, while Dogwood fruit ripens in the fall, and Hollies provide in winter.
- Also use a diversity of plant species to attract more birds. Fruit, nuts, seeds and insects are all food sources for different birds. And not all berries are consumed by all bird species. Some fruit can be too large.
- Concentrate on Native Plants – Native plants and birds have evolved together therefore they will provide a more complete mix for the birds’ requirements. Native habitats also provide corridors for birds to pass back and forth through their natural areas. This will become more and more important as areas continue to be impacted by development.
Superior Plant Choices
- Oak trees attract goldfinches, blue jays, downy woodpeckers, pheasants, grackles, titmice and nuthatches.
- Pine trees attract goldfinches, chickadees, juncos, doves, titmice and nuthatches.
- Mulberry trees attract robins, waxwings, mocking birds, blue jays, cardinals, orioles, towhees and tanagers.
- Dogwoods attract blue jays, downy woodpeckers, mocking birds, bluebirds and tanagers.
- Crabapples attract robins, woodpeckers, titmice, bluebirds and cedar waxwings and more.
- Winterberry attracts robins, bluebirds, waxwings, quail
- Viburnums attract a wide range – 30+ species. Long lasting fruit, shelter, nesting
- Perennials like Black Eyed Susan, Coneflowers, Bee Balm, Columbine, Goldenrod, Joe-Pye Weed, Maiden Grass, Yarrow provide seeds and nesting materials.
- Juniper – evergreen shelter, fruit
Plants that Attract Birds
|River Birch||Cherry Laurel||Coreopsis||Trumpetvine||Cosmos|
|Maple||Dogwood||Joe-pye Weed||English Ivy||Snapdragon|
|Arborvitae||Summersweet Clethra||Purple coneflower||Boston Ivy||Portulaca|
|Crab Apple||Blueberry||Maiden Grass|
|Japanese Tree Lilac||Pyracantha||Cardinal Flower|
|Western Red Cedar||Winterberry||Compass plant|
|Eastern Red Cedar||Rose of Sharon||Coral bells|
|Sweetbay Magnolia||Skimmia||False Sunflower|
|Tulip tree||Red Chokeberry||Hosta|
|Sweet gum||St. John’s Wort||Fern|