After over 200 posts on the old thread, it's time to start a sequel to our successful 'Best Trees and Shrubs for the Bird Garden'. Thanks to everyone who contributed ideas and information to that one, and I hope you have more observations and tips to offer here too!
Here at our house we have a growing outside our kitchen door a rather gangley volunteer Elderberry Bush that promises to be a treat for the birds. It seemed like this shrub just 'appeared' as the centerpiece in this scrappy tacky garden and then just grew like jack's beanstalk. It's about eight or nine feet tall just from this season and full of pretty white flowers which I hope will soon turn to berry treats for the birds.
We have another 'designer' Elderberry with pinkish black leaves that is quite elegant and much better behaved which has already bloomed and berried and the birds enjoyed it immensely. Especially one old Mockingbird, but I'm not exactly sure that's a good thing or not.
Just for reference I am reposting at the top of this thread a list of birds and their favorite shrubs/trees from "The Helpful Gardener" website. I scanned thru it and saw lots of new ideas for our bird garden. And shrubs will be going on sale soon so I'm making a wish list!
So, what's on your 'wish list' and what are your latest tips and observations?? Let us know!
Thank you for such great opening to the new thread. Okay, okay, I've seen that very shrub down South a gazillion time, but I don't know what's it. Please tell. I keeping thinking of 'Queen Ann Lace' tree lol.
That's my Elderberry bush! And I'm kind of excited about having it because just discovered a new liqueur called 'St. Germain' which is made from Elderberry flowers, so now I'm thinking I could make my own version! It was yummy but about $60 a bottle so making my own would be much more do-able!
Now I have a raspberry bush too (for the birds really). And I'm thinking I could infuse some of those berries into Vodka and make a nice summertime drink!
I don't mean to sound like a 'four flusher' as my mother-in-law would say, but sometimes a nice refresher is in order (especially when it's 95 degrees like today!
Let's see, other birdy trees on the property: dogwoods, beautyberries, hollies, buddleias, serviceberries...I'm wondering if I could steal a few of those berries for myself...?! But maybe some are poison to humans. Must check that out. LOL
Now, what else makes berries that the birds (and maybe humans) like...? Or seeds, too, of course!
Although my suburban garden is a mix of native and non native plants I found the more natives I add the more birds, butterflies and other creatures I get to host.
A lot of the trees, shrubs and vines have already been mentioned in other posts so I'll just mention a few of my favorites.
Lonicera sempervirens is a native honeysuckle that attracts hummingbirds, I have 8 spread through the garden.
After they bloom the seed pods turn slowly from green to red and are eaten by other birds, so they are attractive for nectar and seed.
If I don't prune them back in the spring they also provide nesting sites for birds. .
The native roses offer beautiful scented flowers in June that bring many insects that bring birds.
The Rosa virginiana ( this one suckers and spreads to a nice thick bush to protect birds) also has red rose hips that are eaten by birds in the winter when other things are gone.
They also have beautiful new red canes,
I planted a Cornus stolonifera with one of 2 R. virginiana I have.
It should be interesting to see the red canes of both and the red rose hips in the snow.
Okay, I love these Carolina Buckthorn berries. Surely birds will love them right? What kind of birds would prefer them, I ran through the list above, but couldn't find reference to this one. Thanks all.
OK, I really love all this awesome info about bird attracting trees and shrubs, but am sorta depressed because after all the research I did last winter on native bird attracting stuff and carefully planting the dogwoods, corylus americanas, and amelanchiers . . . I have no birds. Because - I ALSO LOVE CATS!!!
God help us, my husband and I can't say "NO" to any living thing (thank God we're not parents) and have sort of unwittingly housed several kitty colonies in our garage because of a couple strays that we did not want to starve over the winter about 3 years ago. Well, of course they were quite fertile and . . . you can guess the rest. Now, we're trying to get a "catch, spay and release" program going, but the hard part is "catch". Man, are we suckers to wildlife.
Sorry, just had to get that off my chest to my bird lovin' friends!
Great info Tabasco, I can name a vine that produce fruits, birds and human alike love. ;) And I'm sure you'll love the wine. It's Grapes, I've seen Hermit Thrush on it last year, Robin and Waxwings also love them.. Robins also adore the Mountain Ash.
VV, I totally understand about keeping cats indoors . . . I just wish everyone ELSE did!! The strays a few years ago just sort of appeared and winter came and . . . yeah, we couldn't let the little things starve. We did get a "catch-spay-release" contact from our vet, so may try that. Really, we'd just like to get them spayed at our cost and all into a no-kill shelter. The problem is catching 'em!! : )
I thought I'd shared all I could share in the last thread, but then I found myself in the worst drought in Texas history and learned a few new things.
My native Wax Myrtle, that was the favorite of warblers and kinglets last winter, looks dead. It was in a difficult part of the yard to water, but I did try to keep it alive. Its leaves are dead and still hanging on the plant which usually indicates death especially for an evergreen. Maybe it will come back. If not, I will try it again. It's a very beneficial plant -- adding good stuff to the soil and repelling fleas and feeding birds.
One of my big cestrums appears to be dead too. It was also at the far end of the yard that was difficult to water and didn't get any support from the other side of the fence. The other one is doing very well and is again a hummer favorite.
The yaupons are alive but not producing berries.
We had a dry winter too and one Mexican Plum is alive but failed to fruit. The other Mexican Plum either froze or didn't get enough water last winter. It was dead before the summer began. The weird thing is the one that died is the one that I've had for years that has always bloomed and fruited. The one that is still alive has only been in the ground a year and half.
I kept the Beautyberry watered (although water restrictions affected when and how much) and it did fine. It produced plenty of berries that the birds ate the second they ripened.
Turk's Cap has done well and so have the Mexican petunias.
The most outstanding tree in the drought has been a non-native, the crepe myrtle. They are alive and flowering all over the city despite the drought. I've seen orioles drinking from it, finches eating the seeds in the winter, blue jays snapping off limbs for their nests, and all the birds seem to like to hang out in crepe myrtles.
The other stand out tree seems to be the mulberry. I'm waiting for some of mine to drop their leaves b/c I'm donating about a dozen to local bird sanctuaries and these guys are just as green as can be. Even one that I planted in the far corner behind the shed that didn't get any water while I was gone for 10 days and temps got as high as 109 is still green. Don't know if they will produce fruit next spring.
I everybody!! I just started watching this thread before part two started and it sure is interesting. The list at the beginning of the thread was very helpful but I have still not found a suitable tree for my small front yard and I need more shade for my ever-growing Hosta garden. I already have a white Dogwood tree in front of house and two River Birch trees on south side. I want something that will feed the birds but not get any bigger than a dogwood. I was real interested in the Choke Cherry but seems a bit big and someone on PlantFiles said its invasive and there's a lot of suckering, can't figure out why only one person in z-4 said that. If it's true seems like more people would say so, any way what do you think?
Also I like the idea of planting a Elderberry and a Raspberry out back, I already have 2 service berries, (bushes) beauty-berry, cup plant, crab-apple tree, Yoshino cherry (this was just for shade and I thought it was pretty),and I have a blue berry bush, need to get another.
Va-Rose, I wished I could help with your questions, but I don't have much experience with mentioned trees and the growing condition. I lost a beautiful Yoshino cherry tree to the back of my garden. I'm still sore over the loss for the tree was great for my birds over the years. More like it was great for me too, since I had took alot of beautiful birds photos from that tree. lol
I popped back into this thread to share how wonderful dogwoods are in which there is not much written about them. But this time of year, their berries are terrific for birds that are migrating south. Besides, they're just beautiful to watch all through the season. One of the first to bloom too, in early spring.
This is just perfect, I have a Yoshino Cherry tree in back yard and I didn't know the birds liked it. I thought it was just flowers. I also have a Dogwood tree in Front yard and it has white flowers. I had done some research on computer and I think I have it narrowed down to 'Kousa Dogwood' or Autumn Flowering Higan Cherry. I know from experience that the Cherry trees grow fast and my Yoshino has gotten real big in the past two years. I hope you can get another, they are so beautiful and mine is nice shade also and gets better as it gets bigger. Knowing that the birds like them helps alot. I love my Dogwood as well, it's right outside my kitchen window and I see a lot of birds coming to the tree for the berries which are there now. I will probably get one of these tree and I lean toward the Cherry tree because they grow so fast.
Thanks for the post and the picture, I am feeling better about the cherry tree!
Here is another pix of the Dogwood, now I've eyed the Korean dogwood which also has white flowers, but much bigger flowers the fruits are very interesting, my sister has a young Korean dogwood (in zone 7a), the flowers are much bigger than the native dogwood, hers has not fruits yet, but what I saw (fruits) from a local nursery I was head over heels wanting one. lol
Wow, seems like the birds really like this tree and I know it grows fast. My front yard has good drainage and I just might plant another if I can find one. I don't know if I have picture but I planted a stick I got from a nursery (mail order) and now 2.5 years later the trunk is almost four inches wide and the flowers are very beautiful. I really, really hope you can get another one, sooner the better because they grow fast!
:) Another tree shrub that I found is very suitable for birds in the garden. This shrub has 'housed' many type of birds in my yards, Brown Thrasher, and others. They build nests within the shrub and use it to hide from pradators. Japanese Cleyera.
Wow! Thanks Lily, I am always looking for more bird friendly shrubs if it proves to be better then I will rip out something to make room for it.
I went outside and took a new picture of my Cherry Tree. I was looking and looking for the one with the blooms on it but it was blurry and so I guess that is why I deleted it.
Mrs. Ed, there are more trees and shrubs that are wonderful up in your temperate climate. I'd give anything for a Moutain Ash (Sorbus aucuparia) that only do well up North. I've tried to plant those trees for years but they didn't do well here. I so love those Cedar Waxwings that love those berries.
Va.Rose, Your young Yoshino is taking off to a great start. Hope you'll have many years of enjoyment out of them. Having looking around in my neighborhoods this time in the season. I've seen alot of Ornamental cherries trees that are devoid of leaves, yes. Looks as they are under stress of sort. I hope I didn't cut down my tree prematurely. sniff sniff.
Lily, it really has grown fast and that is why I would like to get another for the front yard. I still do not understand why the birds like it. It does not have any berries or maybe it had one berry last year. Did yours have berries. I thought Cottonisters were invasive. Do your birds like them? The vine is sweet and you say it is a Porcelain vine? It reminds me of the berries on my Service berry (regent saskatoon) Here is a picture and the birds go crazy over this bush!
Va-rose, the placement of my cherry tree was suitable for me. In the early spring when it comes to blooms. Birds found the bare branches to perch to hunt for bugs. There I took lots of pics. birds and enjoyed them. I've seen female Cardinals stealing the flower petal to build their nest with them. The cherry did make some small berries, but not enough to show. the regent saskatoon is an attractive one. The Porcelain vine is said to be invasive in certain condition. It hasn't been for me.
OK, so not just berries but placement. I was also wondering what kind of camera do you have that you can get pictures of birds. I would scare them away if I could get close enough for a picture. I only have a easy-share,Kodak.
Porcelain vine is considered invasive in 12 Northeastern States including :CT., DE., MA.,RI., VA., MA., NJ.,DC., WV., WI.
virginiarose, a good alternate is Lonicera Sempervirens(this is a native honeysuckle, do not confuse it with the Asian honeysuckle which is also very invasive) which is a fabulous double duty vine. Not only do the flowers attract hummingbirds all season long but the seed pods start out green, turn orange then red, look like berries and are eaten right away by birds.
Which out for the named cultivars some are really hybrids crossed with non natives. Avoid Major Wheeler and Magnifica.
The photo shows how both flowers and "fruit" appear simultaneously about mid season.
Another good alternate is Rosa Virginiana: pretty pink, very fragrant flowers in June, followed by rose hips that turn red in the fall and are not eaten by birds until late winter.
I have it planted in the photo with Cornus stolonifera, the winter red bare stems of this large running shrub complement the red rose hips of the virginiana rose in winter. This dogwood has smallish white flower heads and white berries that are also eaten immediately.
Thank you sempervirens! This is really great stuff. I like the honey suckle a lot sounds like what i've been looking for! I was interested in the dogwood also but couldn't find it on plantfiles. I have a red-twig dogwood but I have never seen berries or flowers. Out with the old and in with the new. I have a fairly small yard and these shrubs have to earn their keep!
virginiarose, You couldn't find it because I misspelled it in the first post. I've since corrected the spelling but it is also known as Cornus sericea, and commonly called red osier dogwood. It took off the 2nd year I had it in the ground, grew 10' branches and bloomed all summer, but sporadically. The white berries disappeared shortly after forming.
The other dogwoods I have are both 2 year old Pagoda dogwoods (Cornus alternifolia) also known as alternate leaf dogwoods. Neither has bloomed yet but they grew 3' taller.
Did you read Doug Tallamy's book "Bringing Nature Home"?
All native Dogwoods are rated very high on attracting and supporting the insects that support the native bird populations.
I have a small property also but I added those three even though they are all rather large, the red osier can be cut down every few years to promote the newer branches that are red but the "Pagodas" are small trees.
I really want to try elderberries if I can find a space along the fence line for them.
Anyone have elderberries?
I agree wholeheartedly with sempervirens' statements above, especially about the non-native Porcelain vine (Ampelopsis brevipedunculata). In KY, especially in our parklands and woodlands, it is approaching being the absolute worst plant we are dealing with.
Don't be fooled by not seeing additional plants in your own garden. Believe that the seeds are being transported elsewhere (especially unmanaged landscapes), where these pestiferous plants take hold and become the timebomb of invasive problems. Like our park woodlands.
Keep investing in all those great native species that support the native birds and insects/butterflies, and let the invasive non-natives be a memory of the past.
Thank you so much for the good advice. But what about my Ivory Halo, it is a red twig dogwood and I have never seen a bird near it, nor does it have berries. Should I replace it with something more functional. I'm starting to think it is just taking up space. I would rather have something like yours with berries.
I looked up several things named Cornus sericea, and none of them have berries, none of the ones on plantfiles.
I have heard good things about Elderberries. I inquired about one on another thread but she never got back to me. I think it is worth making room for. What do you think?
By the way I do have one plant that is very good for supporting insects, butterflies and birds. Its a 'cup plant' it is extreamly easy to grow and drought tolerant. The leaves fuse together at the stem and form a cup which holds rainwater for the birds and insects. It also has seeds, nectar and pollen. Please check it out!
Cup Plant (Silphium perfoliatum)
Ivory Halo ,Cornus Alba, is a non native Siberian dogwood.
Cornus servicea (stolonifera) is a similar native dogwood with red twigs in winter.
Both should get berries. I have to watch the shrub daily to catch the berries because when they form they are eaten almost immediately.
It prefers a moist soil and when happy blooms sparsely over the whole summer. All the blooms formed berries.
It is preferable to buy straight species when possible that come from your local area.
Try your local native plant society spring and fall native plant sales. The Audubon Society also hold spring and fall sales.
Online native plant nurseries from your local area are another source. Commercial nurseries rarely carry species, they usually sell the latest new and "improved" variety. Unfortunately improved for us to look at is frequently not as good for the birds.
Named cultivars are tricky, some are just naturally occurring crosses but others are really hybrids that have a non native addition.
I have cultivars of winterberry, Ilex verticillata because I couldn't find straight species until last year, and quite frankly I didn't think the larger
size would fit since I had already jam packed the area with grasses and perennials. I would choose differently if I had to do it again.
This is a great berrying shrub that berries when it is quite small if you have the correct male close by to coordinate bloom times.
I fear both my species shrubs are male so no berries on those but I have 4 female cultivars (Sprite) that berry well.(Jim Dandy is the male, you only need 1.)
The cup plant you mentioned is one I will add next year, I understand hummingbirds like to take a bath in the cups.
Excellent suggestion, thanks.
Does anyone here in the north grow Coralberry in shade? I'm looking for a fruiting bush for a location under a tree. I've seen some things that say they can tolerate shade, but I'm not sure they'd fruit very well. Was considering a serviceberry, but I don't think that would flower well in full shade.
The Ivory Halo also has red twigs but I have never seen any flowers or berries. It seems to be in a fairly moist place beside the Service Berries. The Service berries do not like moist soil I hear and have not grown as big as I would expect for three years. However they do have nice flowers and berries which the birds enjoy very much. They are all in full sun but I do and did forget to fertilize :( . Do you think that could be the problem.
Is Sprite a winter-berry? I can get one from a local nursery and they will give me a proper male. I am glad to hear they berry at a young age. Do they grow fairly fast?
Mrs_Ed, my service berries are in full sun and I don't know much about fruiting shade plants but I certainly will keep an eye out for shade tolerant bushes. I do have a Nandina Domestica in shade and it has berries, bright red ones but I don't know if the birds eat them or not. Also I believe there are certain Holley bushes that tolerate shade and the birds do eat those. I hope this helps :)
Helpful info. thanks all. Here is another small tree/shrub that not only good for birds, wildlife, but pleasant to our eyes. Eunamus 'Burning Bush'. Although, this is not "burning" (reddened) yet, but it begun to show its sparkling color for the season. Note the attractive red berries.
Lily, burning bush is considered an invasive noxious weed in 21 states from New England and along the east coast as far south as Georgia and west to Illinois.
In many states it is no longer legal to sell them.
I know there is supposed to be a new genetically modified burning bush but in the past all so called sterile plants have proved capable of reproducing with existing species.
Blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum, are good substitutes both for berries and fall color. You also could consider black chokeberry, Aronia melanocarpa or Fragrant Sumac, Rhus aromatica, as native substitute shrubs.
Great information sempervirens! I am still researching shrubs and small trees for attracting birds. I am still interested in Sprite and Jim Dandy. Might add another blueberry bush, I had three small ones I got on sale last fall but my Husband mowed two of them down. :(
Okay, here is an interesting thing that I just discovered; Not only Robins favor the flowering dogwoods. This year, I'm fortunate to observe many a species come to enjoy the tree's berries to include Eastern Blue Birds, a variety of Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers also seen picking on the berries. The YBSS especially will hang upside down for these berries treats. Other species appear to perch on the branches to wait for insects. So the trees appear to be mostly busy this time of year.
Hi all, I just started watching this thread. Thank you sempervivem for staying on top of the invasive plants. I don't know if web sites for invasive plants have been posted so here is a suggestion if needed. http://www.invasive.org/weedcd/
Also search 'your state, invasive plants' and you will get many web sites.
It's amazing to me that many of these plants are still being sold. And who knows how many of the currently popular ornamentals will be added to the list.
We are planting our yard into natives, starting 2 years ago. My husband retired and has been watching birds-now can identify many he agreed to stop the chemical fertilizers and pesticides. We have seen a great response from the birds. It's fun to watch the birds respond to these young trees and shrubs. They love the native crabapple, plum, serviceberries, spicebushes, winterberries, elderberries and ninebark. These plants are still babies and the birds love them as do the deer and groundhogs. Fences aren't too pretty but we haven't found anything effective against the groundhogs. (Glad they only need 18" fences.)
Any help planting in clay soil for our feathered friends would be great.
Hi everybody, Just got through re-reading this thread and there is so many great pictures and great information. I actually took notes and printed out a list. This thread is packed with information!
There is another great shrub I have on my wish list and it is called winterberry. Does anyone have one. I took this picture at a local nursery and was told this is a very slow grower, but worth the wait. This one is 'Winter Red' but I would like a couple of 'Sprites' anyone have one, I hear the berries persist into winter and are loved by a lot of birds.
I am growing a great number of these (see photos in the entries in PlantFiles, and comments therein), and have for decades (though many are recent additions as well). These are really NOT slow growers, unless they are in droughty situations. Give them a wet spot - or at least regular moisture - and you can have a foot-plus in growth per year, more if you fertilize at all.
The most important thing is to understand that male flowers and female flowers are on separate plants, and you need both for pollination to occur and have fruit set on the female plants. 'Winter Red' is about the most highly rated female selection with berries able to persist until spring, and will become a relatively large plant if untouched. 'Red Sprite' is more compact - but still able to reach 6 feet tall. It has very nice fruit set, but I find that birds will strip this one earlier than most other selections.
Read up on all that is available, and continue to ask more questions...
I have had good luck attracting birds by planting things that attract bugs.
Agree with Hackberry, and I would add wild native plum Prunus Americana - it is a little buggy without getting over-whelmed.
It isn't a tree or a shrub - but the birds like my grapes - too much, in fact!!
Great Idea! I have added a lot of nectar plants and the birds are loving the yard. The Birch trees have gotten huge and it is everyones favorite hang-out, a whole 20° cooler under there! I will check into the Hackberry and plum.
I think Mrs Ed is right on spot. Apparently the hybrid is sterile. virginiarose, I've two other viburnums, one of which is the regular white blooming 'snow ball' in which it seldomly bloomed for me since it's hidden in too much shade. Another is a double-file viburnum, which was blooming the same time as the Vib. carcephalum. As long as I've them, (nearly 10 years now), the doublefile vibirnum occassionally yield some attractive oblong medium size berries, but not very profusely. Their berries first started out green, turned red, then ultimately will turn black before they fall off, or eaten by birds and wild life. I can't have enough viburnum in the garden. Only the garden doesn't have enough sunny sites to give them the best growing condition they deserve.
That is what I have. The Shasta Doublefile and I found out that, Viburnum plicatum f. tomentosum is the pollinator. Just planted my last year so It is very small still. The Shasta has gotten big in the third year but still no flowers or berries! I am patiently waiting and I know when it does start it will be spectacular! Can't wait and the following article helped me a lot.