Bring More Birds Into Your Home With Native Plants Outside


As garden catalogs fill your mailbox and you start planning your yard and garden for the next year, don’t forget about the birds. The gardens are outdoor sanctuaries for birds, insects and other wildlife and each spring migrating birds visit the yards in search of food and protection to raise their young. Birdscaping is the intentional effort to provide a natural setting to attract wildlife, especially birds, to an area, most often your own backyard.

Most landscaping plants in nurseries are exotic species that are valued for their qualities that make them poor sources of food for wildlife. Some can even become invasive. By adding native plants to your yard, balcony, garden, or roof, you can help birds deal with climate change, urban development, and other threats.

There are many ways to create a bird friendly landscape. Here are some examples of plants you can use to attract different species of birds:

PLANTING FOR BIRDS AND INSECTS

Common name
Attributes
Attracted

Annuals

impatient

blooms from summer to the first frost; seeds, nectar

bees and other pollinating insects, butterflies, nectarivorous birds (e.g. hummingbirds), birds that feed on seed heads (e.g., chickadees, goldfinches) and birds that eat fallen seeds (e.g. example, cardinals, native sparrows, troglodytes, robins)

worry

pollen, seeds

sunflowers

pollen, nectar, seeds

zinnias

pollen, nectar, seeds

Native perennials

asters

blooms in autumn; nectar, seeds

bees and other pollinating insects, butterflies, nectarivorous birds (e.g. hummingbirds), birds that feed on seed heads (e.g. chickadees, goldfinches) and birds that eat fallen seeds (e.g. example, cardinals, native sparrows, troglodytes, robins)

lemon balm

nectar, seeds

butterfly grass

blooms in early spring; nectar

insect larvae, bees, butterflies, hummingbirds

cardinal flowers

nectar

hummingbirds, favorite of the cardinals

common milkweed

nectar

larvae of caterpillars, butterflies (monarchs)

joe-pye weed

pollen, nectar, seeds

bees and other pollinating insects, butterflies

penstemon

pollen, nectar, seeds

bumblebee and other pollinating insects, hummingbirds

purple coneflower

pollen, nectar, seeds

butterflies, birds that eat seed heads (for example, chickadees, goldfinches)

rudbeckie

pollen, seeds

bees and other pollinating insects, butterflies

Shrubs / Bushes

American Highbush Cranberry

shade tolerant; berries persist all winter

berry-eating birds (e.g., American Robin, Cedar Waxwing)

Saskatoon berry

flowers April – June, fruits in summer

Trees

black cherry

native; fruit, blanket

attracts 429 species of insect larvae, attracts birds that eat insect larvae (e.g. orioles, scarlet tanagers, warblers, woodpeckers), fruit-eating birds such as Rose-breasted Grosbeaks and Baltimore Orioles, year round birds like Cardinals and Chickadees; wilted leaves and twigs are poisonous to livestock

bur oak, white oak

native; acorns, nesting sites

attracts 518 species of larval insects, attracts birds that eat larval insects, acorns attract blue jays, turkeys, grouse, wood ducks

wild apple

nectar, fruit

attracts birds that eat fruits, berries and nectar

hackberry

native; berries

attracts 41 insect larvae, attracts birds that eat insect larvae

mountain ash

some native varieties; berries, blanket

berry-eating birds, a favorite of Cedar Waxwing, Yellow-bellied Woodpeckers and Ruffed Grouse

northern white cedar

dense cover, nesting sites

a preferred nesting site for northern cardinals

spruces

year round cover, nesting sites, cones produce seeds

attracts birds that eat the seeds of the cones: blue jays, chickadees, nuthatches, crossbills; another favorite nesting site for northern cardinals

white pine

insect habitat, year round cover, cones produce seeds

attracts 191 insect larvae, attracts birds that eat insect larvae, pine grosbeaks

For more information on native plants that attract birds, visit the Audubon Company’s Native Plant Database at www.audubon.org/native-plants.

Until next time, good garden planning!

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“A bird doesn’t sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” -Maya Angelou

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