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Best Trees and Shrubs for the Bird Garden Part 2

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Hi, Birdsters,

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!

FYI a link to the old thread:

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!


General Plant Guide to Attracting Birds in the Northeast

Purple finches
Cotoneaster, Ornamental grasses

Cedar Waxwing
Cotoneaster, Pyracantha, Mountain Ash, Junipers

Flowering Dogwood, Crabapples, healthy and unhealthy lawns

Eastern Phoebe
Serviceberry, Sumacs

Downy Woodpecker
Serviceberry, Dogwood, Mountain Ash, Virginia Creeper

Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Trumpet vine, Weigela, Columbine, Bee Balm, Quince, most flowering plants producing red or orange flowers

Indigo Bunting
Unruly lawns, Dandelions, Goldenrod, Thistle

Pine, Spruce and Fir trees

Winterberry, Serviceberry, Viburnums, Bayberry, Junipers

Pileated Woodpecker
Serviceberry, Elderberry

Rose-breasted Grosbeak
Cherry, Dogwood, Virginia creeper, Elderberry, Mulberry

Ornamental grasses, Roses, Junipers

Scarlet Tanager
Pines, Serviceberry, Elderberry, Maples, Elms, Oaks

Grasses, Conifers, Cosmos, Zinnia

Red-winged Blackbird
Marsh grasses, open pastureland

Gold Finch
Thistles, Grasses, Echinacea, Rudbeckia

Northern Flicker
Elderberry, Blueberry, Dogwoods

Oaks, Grasses, poorly maintained lawns

Baltimore oriole
Quince, Serviceberry, Maples, Elms, Oaks

Winterberry, Roses, Dogwood, Junipers

Bayberry, Serviceberry, Elderberry, Sumac, Dogwood

Oaks, Serviceberry, Elderberry, Bayberry

Dogwood, Virginia creeper, Holly, Juniper, Sumac, Serviceberry


This message was edited Jul 2, 2011 4:03 AM

Thumbnail by tabasco
Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

Great information!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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.

Marlton, NJ

Thanks for making a new thread tabasco! Love the Elderberry!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Eldererry! Sorry everyone, I can't see for looking.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

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!

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

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.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

Here is the photo of one the Lonicera sempervirens growing on an arbor with a clematis.

Thumbnail by sempervirens
Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

That's a magnificent honeysuckle. And clematis, too.

Semp, do you find that clematis are of any interest to birds or butterflies?

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

tabasco, Unfortunately the clematis is just decorative, the birds and butterflies don't use it.
It was there first, I added the native honeysuckle later.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

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!

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Spay/neuter the cats, and keep the pet ones indoors. You don't favor these animals by letting them run loose.

There are so many communicable diseases rampant among felines (fecundity aside) - most of which they will avoid if cared for indoors.

Then - you can love your cats AND all the shared birds.

Grand-Falls, NB(Zone 4a)

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.

Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

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!! : )

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I'm not a creature catcher - but I can play one here...

The good old Have-a-Heart trap works the best, in our experience. Same one that'll catch raccoons time after time - just bait it with something irresistable.

Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

Too bad, VV, you have now been marked as a kitty-gitter. Now, git up here and catch my durn kitties!!! : ) Thanks for the Have-a-Heart tip.

Rockport, TX(Zone 9a)

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.

Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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!

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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

This is my mature dogwoods in the backyard today.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

Nice tree! Sounds like we like the same trees. My dogwood is still small about 5 or 6 years old. Cherry tree is only two and is about same size! LOL. :)

Thumbnail by virginiarose
Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Lovely dogwood you've there Va.Rose. Here is an example of my Yoshino cherry this past Spring. ~sniff sniff. I lost it because of a flood with standing water in the garden over a span of 3 plus days.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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!

Thumbnail by virginiarose
Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

What is it??

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Mrs. Ed, we're 'talking' about Yoshino Cherry tree.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Well, wasn't sure if it was cherry or dogwood. lol.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

:) 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.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

The mentioned tree above in pf I had added couple photos there, have a look. :)

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

nice. I have a little zone envy now.

Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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.

Thumbnail by virginiarose
Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Cottonisters berries, love this one. The berries are just now begun to turn color.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Neither tree nor shrub, but a vine with berries. Birds must have 'gifted' me this one, so I thought it deserves a place in the garden. I just love it. Porcelain vine and its berries.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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!


Thumbnail by virginiarose
Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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.

Portsmouth, VA(Zone 8a)

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.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Va-Rose, I've a Cannon Power Shot XS30 IS. I recently upgraded. My first digital camera was a Kodak easyshare as well. I've enjoyed it especially their close up shots are nice.

Northern, NJ(Zone 6b)

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.

Thumbnail by sempervirens

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