Best Trees and Shrubs for the Bird Garden?

Ridgefield, WA

Hmmm ... this is very interesting! I don't mean to hijack this thread, but i truly wasn't aware deer would graze to the point of killing a plant. They were very active around the newly planted dogwoods, but it was mostly the lower branches, so i wasn't concerned. I'll have to keep a more watchful eye ...

In our former residence up North, my husband and i planted a few gorgeous rose bushes. In the morning, i would squeal with delight at the new buds, only to find them gone the following day. :) It was a rare treat when a bud was left unmolested long enough for me to enjoy the flower. But i didn't really mind. I learned to accept the loss, so long as the bushes on the whole were healthy.

Now i have two potted evergreens flanking the garage. They've been regularly "pruning" them for me, bless their hearts. :)

In any case, i think maybe the trick is to plant all these gorgeous berry bushes not only for the birds, but for the deer as well? Maybe the deer and birds will share them and they'll leave our other tender shoots alone. :)

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Yes, the deer issue is so vexing. I have poured over the 'Garden Foes' forum looking for all kinds of effective deterrents...

I wonder if my Beautyberry crop would improve if I planted both a 'his' and 'hers'? I read that they need full sun for best berrying but no info about sexes, so I'm assuming not...

Last year I planted 2 hollies in big pots to flank the front door during the holiday season. Put twinkle lights on them, too, and the birds still pecked away.

Then I move the pots to the backyard during spring and summer and replace with spring and then summer arrangements. --Pots of pussy willows underplanted with crocus by the door in the springtime. The swallowtail butterflies love them for host plants (lay their eggs on them then the caterpillers eat the leaves for food. Last year we had a bumper crop of swallowtails in the garden.) And I tried Hardy Hibiscus for a summer version (thought I would attract hummingbirds and butterflies to them, but they didn't seem to like that offering so much.)

I wish I had a really sunny spot to plant some sunflowers. I suppose I could just plant the seeds from the birdseed, right? I would want sunflowers which off the 'black oil' seed in their heads! ...picky picky picky....

Ferndale, AR(Zone 7b)

tobasco, it sounds like all of your critters are well fed!

Ridgefield, WA

Tabasco .... i'll say it again, you've got a superb eye. And it's a great idea to make pots with birds and butterflies specifically in mind!

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Well, I am having fun planting for the birds and butterflies.

It makes for a bit of a messy looking yard on our cul de sac (everyone has very neatly trimmed and mulched suburban lots here) so I feel like I have to have the official National Wildlife Federation Plaque out in front to explain so the neighbors 'get it'. LOL

p.s. Today was a six woodpecker day at our feeder station--downey, hairy, sapsucker, red-bellied, flicker, and pileated. Can't get a red-headed to show up here to save my soul! LOL

A nice summary of bird garden trees and shrubs:

This message was edited Jan 17, 2007 8:32 PM

Baltimore, MD(Zone 7a)


You are bery, bery nice to post all these pictures! The birds must LOVE your yard!

I have no place to plant any of these. Too bad! I have a moderate, but very established yard. Been at it 37 years! Have 2 maples in my back yard and their roots are everywhere! It is a struggle to dig anything.

Thanks for posting all the pictures.


Hannibal, NY(Zone 6a)

I have a ton of currants planted for the birds, but I take just a few to put in some of my strawberry jam. It seems the birds prefer the black currants.

Whidbey Island, WA(Zone 7a)

I just planted some currants this Fall, but imagine it will take quite awhile for them to be mature enough to produce. And I am sooooo impatient!

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

LOL! I know what you mean! Some of my trees took 5 years to get big enough to berry and my contorted mulberry hasn't yet. Maybe this year!

I have another tree I forgot to mention. I have two red buckeyes that I planted for the hummers. Unfortunately they are usually in flower before the hummers reach where I live but I love the flowers so much I'm still thrilled with it!

This message was edited Jan 19, 2007 12:52 PM

Thumbnail by lilyfantn
Marlton, NJ

I'm bumping this thread up since we're getting close to Spring.

Lilyfantn, When does the Elderberry bloom? I'm trying to find more shrubs that berry in the winter. I'm
sure I'll be getting the Winterberry's but probably just 1 male and 1 or 2 females.
Also, where did you find the dwarf Blueberry? Have you found those pics? Thanks!

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

The elderberries get their berries in lateish summer. And then they go like hot cakes lol. I got the sunshine blue blueberry shrubs from a local grower who got her stock wholesale from Wayside. You can probably order them from there. Your local nursery may stock some kind of dwarf blueberry shrub too. That would probably be cheaper than mail order and you would get bigger plants. The Hawthorn keeps its berries through the winter and is the main perch of the mockingbird. The chokecherries also keep their berries all winter. My neighbor has some crab apple trees that are really popular too. The ones with the smaller sized apples are the best for bird food. My other neighbor has some grape vines and they are popular too. I don't know if they last all winter though.

Marlton, NJ

Thanks Buddy! :-)

Citra, FL

I am definitely going to have to find some of these berry bushes, at least the ones that grow well down here. Gorgeous pics, as usual!

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

You probably have lots sof exotic fruit things that grow in the tropics where you are Halo! Who knows... maybe you wil be posting pictures of flamingos for us lol!

I'm so glad you are going to try planting some berrying things Pell! Let us know how it goes and post pictures of your choices once they are planted! I am still looking for some pictures of the blueberry bushes. If I don't find any I will post pics this summer.

Yonkers, NY(Zone 5b)

An early pair of robins showed up in my yard Feb 3rd. Very early! In fact, I have NEVER seen robins there. They are usually running around the lawn in the front. The ground is frozen so there are no worms for them to eat. The other birds are feasting at the feeders, the robins are not interested.
They discovered the chokeberries & picked the tree clean.
It's a small tree - planted in a 20" pot. Previously, the only bird I had seen eating the berries was the mockingbird - and even that was rare.

I bought the tree because I read that the birds would like them. I'm glad they were finally discovered!


Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

Yay Nancy!! They say that chokecherries need a few cold snaps to get sweet enough for the birds to eat. I hae heard some people say that the birds don't eat the fruit on theirs but they are popular at my house. I had a robin this winter that learned to eat from the platform feeder when it was snowing. I put fruit and raisins in mine along with nuts and seeds. Now the robin has continued eating at the feeders even though the weather is nicer. Its as if it has learned a new skill lol. sorry the picture is so dark.

Thumbnail by lilyfantn
Marlton, NJ

What type of fruit from your buffet does the Robin like Susan?

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

The robin seems to prefer raisins and grapes. I dis see it pecking at the orange half when it was snowing though. Maybe because it was more visible in the snow?

Fort White, FL

Tabasco...when did you take that lovely picture?? Surely not in January 2007??

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

LOL of course not! That's a pic of my dogwood from May last year! That is the only one that has survived--my others succumbed to some kind of mildew last year. (sob). I can only dream of my dogwood blossoms now, but I can see little buds on my magnolias!

BTW--I read in the paper that March is the most catastrophic month for birds (in these parts, not in FLA and TX and points south, I guess) because the berries are all gone now--even the bitter ones ripened for late winter consumption--and the insects and worms have not really come out (blossomed?) so the birds need our feeders more than ever to make just that much difference for survival....

I am so happy our Carolina wrens have made it through the nasty February cold spells but they are desperately searching for something to eat and seem to like my suet so that's 'a good thing' as Martha would say (not her suet recipe though!)

Our robins are here (and many have stayed all winter long). I also had a Pine Warbler yesterday at the feeders which is a first for us--(A ranger from the adjacent park spied it and let us know--otherwise we would have continued along in ignorant bliss about its presence so early here in the season. (Our taxpayer dollars at work!).

Our migration season is just getting underway and things are picking up around here--Good birding everyone!

Yonkers, NY(Zone 5b)

That's great, Lily!
I'm going to buy some grapes!


Marlton, NJ


Heard a few people ask questions about this and I have one.

Wheres your favorite place to buy these types of plants and shrubs?

Marlton, NJ

Lily, Do you cut back your Elderberry at all and if so when is that done?

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Well, I buy our shrubs and trees at our local garden centers--they stock a lot of natives and bird and butterfly garden plants and they have good sales and close outs. (Wolfangles, Greenfield Plant Farm, Earthscapes, to name a few suppliers in Cincinnati).

Also, I've been lucky to get some nice starts at the ORV RU Plant Trades in the springtime.

And I am always on the lookout at roadside plant stands and farmers' markets and I check out every bargain table at the big box stores, too. I seldom buy at full retail (too cheap.)

They say that the Hummingbirds are arriving here in Ohio now and my honeysuckle is really putting out shoots. Hope it blooms soon! (I'll have to get my feeders out today.) They say the HBs follow the bloom of the red buckeye and the lilacs. Mine are just about ready to show some flowers...

Frankfort, KY

Quince is a good shrub for birds. So is Holly. As for Serviceberry, there is a shrub and a tree. I have shrubs in the back and a tree in the front. Birds also like Crab Apple trees. Just about anything with berries is favored by birds.

Kingsport, TN(Zone 6b)

Hi Pell! I like too buy my shrubs and trees locally whenever I can also. That way I can see what I am getting. Also, mail order almost always comes bare root or at least in very small pots. They take quite a bit longer to reach an appreciable size. That being said, I have ordered some things I couldn't find anywhere else from a place called

they have quite a large catalog! They always mention if something is good for wildlife also.

I did cut my elderberry back once and won't be doing that again. It sent out so many suckers after that.

Summit, NJ(Zone 6b)


I'm further north than you are, but since I'm also in NJ, thought I'd add what I've found. I try to buy mostly native plants, and sometimes have had trouble finding what I want, so I pay close attention to these things. Starting in a couple of weeks there are sales organized, by various groups, such as master gardeners, garden clubs and Audubon centers that often have more wildlife friendly plants. Some of the events near me show up in the local papers, so I suspect it might be the same near you. I also know of some relatively near you since I keep an eye open for my SIL who also lives in the southern part of the state. I'm adding some links I think might help you.

From the NJ Natlive Plant Society site:

From the Audubon Centers site:

Bowman's Wildflower Farm (probably a bit far--PA, but I've heard people rave about their sale)

Here's a mailorder source that's located in Frenchtown, NJ that I like. I think plants tend to do better in my garden if from similar locations so when possible I go with a closer nursery:

Have fun shopping!


Putnam County, IN(Zone 5b)

have found this thread very interesting since I want to add some bird friendly shrubs & trees to our yard this year. Found the new thread started else where on the forums but it seems cold & over my head (no common names wanted, no chatting).

Marlton, NJ

Thanks so much Lori!

Lily, Have you pruned any of your Viburnums? I see some of them can get seriously tall and wide. If you do can you say when and how you go about that.

Anyone who knows can answer the question.

This message was edited Apr 10, 2007 7:51 AM

Marlton, NJ

Went to a local nursery today to look at their shrubs.
They had the most BEAUTIFUL Serviceberrys in full bloom, nice big ones but I almost fell down when I looked at the price... $250.00!!!!!

They also had some nice Winterberry and 2 types of Viburnums but again the prices were quite steep. I'll have to check out Lowes and Home Depot or just mail order.
They had some master gardners there working that I spoke to for a while but the one did not like using the common names of things and I kept having to ask,
"That sounds nice; what are you talking about?" LOL, she was jumping from one family to another and I was completely lost. They were very nice though.
Figured I better get out today before the big Noreaster comes through, we're supposed to get some really bad weather with this one.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

pelle, Yikes!! on the price of the Serviceberry. It must be some special tree! I would have to shop around a bit too or start one from seed or cutting before I would pay that price, although it's true the birds love 'em!

nanny, I hadn't seen the other bird thread...can you give us a link?

Marlton, NJ

Heres the link for the thread that nanny's talking about. I baled on it too.

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

Oh, I see... yes, thanks.

Since we are talking about bird shrubs, I also wanted to add that now is the time the 'Ruby Throated hummingbirds' are arriving from South America and the warm southern states and it's fun to have trees and bushes in the yard that they love. I googled for a list of HUMMINGBIRD shrubs:

Abelia Abelia grandiflora
Azalea Rhododendron sp.
Bottlebrush Callistemon lanceolatus
Butterfly bush Buddleia davidii
Catoneaster Catoneaster sp.
Eucalyptus Eucalyptus sp.
Flowering currant Ribes odoratum
Flowering quince Chaenomeles sp.
Fuschia tree Fuschia arborescens
Hibiscus Hibiscus sp.
Lilac Syringa sp.
Mimosa (silk tree) Albizia julibrissin
Strawberry tree Arbutus unedo
Wild lilac Ceanothus griseus
Weigela Weigela rosea

I have lilac, weigela, butterfly bush and azaleas. The butterfly bush is known to be invasive. I always try to check with the state invasives list before planting and I have found a number of surprise (for me) listings on it. Mimosa, for one. And Butterflybush)

And there are always the trumpet vine and its relations that the HBs love and are a bit shrubby, but some states have classified them as invasives, too. Some of these HB vines are best on trellises or in pots.

Honeysuckle (not 'japanese' which is terribly invasive)
Hyacinth bean
Morning Glory Vine
Passion Vine
Red Jessamine
Trumpet Vine

There are all kinds of flowers that HBs love and have been discussed thoroughly on other threads. There are usually listings for each state since HBs like different bloom treats in different areas of the country. Here's South Carolina, for one:

Marlton, NJ

Great list tabasco! I have 4 Trumpetvines that the Hummers love but they are all 40 feet or farther from the house. Last Fall I bought a Honeysuckle vine that did not have a tag on it so I'm wondering which type it may be. Heres a pic w/ Cardinal included.

Thumbnail by pelletory
Marlton, NJ

Last Fall I bought Weigela, Wine and Roses 'Alexandra' so I hope the hummers like that.

This message was edited Apr 14, 2007 5:41 PM

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

So many questions...


Amazed that your google search didn't turn up red buckeye (Aesculus pavia); maybe because it can be tree-like? That's a great plant for everyone conversing here.


I posted a list on that thread; don't hold it against me, I didn't create the tone. I will paste that list here, if anyone wishes. I always list the botanical name with the common name, so that whatever language you or others speak, you've got a chance to be in on the conversation.


You can prune viburnums any time you want. You just have to realize that you are giving something up, and your birds may hold it against you.

Prune right after flowering, and you will get plenty of new growth in time to set flower buds for next year. won't have fruit on those stems.

Prune during fall/winter after birds have consumed the fruit. won't have flowers on those stems next spring, and thus no fruit on those stems.

Life is a trade-off. I just say: get more property, or annex your friends and neighbors (neighborhood?).

Maybe a chat with the friendly neighborhood viburnophile could turn up some plants...

Marlton, NJ

LOL, Thanks Viburnum! We would love to see the list when you have time to copy it to here. Maybe you could tell us your favorite places to buy from.
You might have seen my earlier post about the $250 Serviceberry at one of the local garden centers. I wouldn't mind buying mail order but that brings up another question:
How fast growing are Viburnums, Serviceberrys and Elderberrys?

Ps, Wish I could buy more land but no way with NJ taxes.

This message was edited Apr 16, 2007 7:46 AM

Cincinnati (Anderson, OH(Zone 6a)

pelle, I don't think your honeysuckle is one of the invasives-- yours looks to be a Lonicera sempervirens which is talked about in this BBG article:

VV, yes, the red buckeye is a favorite and I don't know why they/I missed it. We have them in our yard.

We have some nice birch trees and an elm and I would like for the returning Orioles to make a nest in them this year. I wish I had an apple or cherry tree for them to find their food too. I put out my sliced oranges and orangey-currant suet and grape jelly but they like insects the best. Wishing and hoping...

The blue birds love to make their nests in old apple orchards and even old tree stumps and snags or used woodpecker holes and cavities (and of course nest boxes). I don't have an old orchard but I do have a snag and a stump this year. In other times I would have had the felled trees promptly chopped and hauled away, but now I have a little treasure trove of dead tree parts to add to my wildlife habitat! In any case, it's time to put up the blue bird nest boxes.

I am on the lookout for nest building but haven't found any so far. I read the birds really like the hair from horses tails for nests...I wonder where I can find that!

Take care.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)


Move down here to horse country. No extra effort required.

We've had orioles each of the last two years. Their nests were spotted in an elm once, and in a hackberry the other time. Fingers crossed for you...


All the plants you listed can be fast growing...depending on the species. The idea is to plant everything you want, and then get out of the way. Some will be quicker, some will be slower. The birds don't care about speed. They care about endurance.

Species that can last in the long term in your climate and conditions are the values that birds will appreciate, and reward you with by showing up repeatedly. Elderberries are the fastest to gain size, and set really large heads of fruit after flowering.

I was only half kidding about the neighborhood. If you are good at conversing with neighbors, you might effect a change in the popularity of local landscapes for any number of bird species. Every human likes different kinds of plants. Your job is to find out what strikes the fancy of the senior citizens down the next block; the young couple next door; the yuppies across the street; etc. etc. etc. A neighborhood arboretum might just as well be a neighorhood aviary.

The only limit is your imagination.

Marlton, NJ

Thanks tab! The man at that garden center said this was not one of the bad invasive ones but I wasn't sure since there wasn't a tag. Thanks for the link. I'll have to get some better pics when it starts blooming again.

Thanks VV, can't wait till the weather breaks to get out and start looking around again. I'll be sure to let you know what I wind up buying.

Post a Reply to this Thread

Please or sign up to post.