Best Trees and Shrubs for the Bird Garden?

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

My garden group put a "Amethyst" Snowberry/Coralberry in our demo garden. It has been in less than 2 years and it did have a few berries this year. It is too soon to tell how big it will get. We put in "Hancock" Coralberry about the same time, it stays short and spreads out flat - we got it to try for erosion control on a hill.

I put in two Rose-of-Sharon bushes in my yard 8 years ago. They were two different types from two different sources and ended up looking exactly alike. They have done well and look okay/good, but as Viburnum Valley said, they don't DO anything. I am seriously considering ripping them out and replacing them with a pair of "Honeyberry" honeysuckle.


I have Serviceberry, too. They start slow but eventually get big - great for screening, 3-season interest, birds, native landscaping, edible landscaping. I got a book for Christmas, Landscaping with Fruit by Lee Reich, that lists several that are supposed to stay under 7 foot tall. Would that be short enough?

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Well it DOES attract hummingbirds and insects. I like how late in the year it blooms if you are looking for late color. I'm putting one in for them this year too.

http://www.rubythroat.org/roseofsharonmain.html

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

RE: Rose-of-Sharon & Hummingbirds: mine doesn't seem to attract them (or butterflies), which is why I am considering removing them. Maybe because I have more attractive flowers near by, or maybe because they are a double-flowered dark pink. Maybe a single flowered or different color would do better. On the whole, they have done very well - but I am out of space for trying new things and something has to go.

PS: The Rose-of-Sharon are 6' tall and fairly upright. I guess they are supposed to make a vase or fountain shape, but mine are still slowly growing upwards.

This message was edited Jan 2, 2011 8:29 AM

Marlton, NJ

I've never seen mine at our Rose of Sharon either. Ours aren't doing as well as in past years.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Browsing the forums and found this thread. Neat thread. I think I will bookmark it.
Tobasco: I too put out a National Federation Plaque so the neighbors would understand my yard better. I have one neighbor that only likes grass, grass, grass! Yuck! I am sure he does not like my yard.
I am developing more berry bushes/shrubs for my birds. I do have several of the above mentioned plants.
I have a beautiful beautyberry bush that put out loads of berries but did not find the birds interested in it. They finally got brown. I did get one sprouted in one of my gardens--shade on north side of house. It produced many berries the first year. So, I guess some kind of bird likes them!
Goldfinch love poppy seeds, hollyhock seeds, and zinnia seeds. These are annuals and perennials - not shrubs but the birds do really like them.
My tiny one year old winterberry has lots of berries, but I haven't noticed any birds yet.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I also put out my Wildlife sign to let the neighbors know I am serious about my birds and to keep their cats in their yards. I actually think it has helped.

Rockport, TX(Zone 9a)

I have had a wax myrtle for years. When I bought it, the sign said that it attracted more than 30 varieties of birds. Never saw a bird eating the berries until this year. This year, every morning for the last month, the yellow-rumped warblers and ruby-crowned kinglets have visited the wax myrtle for breakfast. Amazingly, it still has berries. The lesson: don't give up if a plant is a known bird favorite.

Also, I had an x-mas berry that was still in a pot behind the shed and was left there for years. I thought that it wasn't producing berries. I think this thread made me check it. It had berries. I finally transplanted it a month later, but when I did, there were no berries left on it. It produced berries and something ate them before they even turned red. That may have been going on for years unnoticed by me.

In years past, I've had thrashers and catbirds in the beautyberries in addition to mockingbirds. This year, I've only seen mockingbirds. I have no idea why sometimes the birds go after a type of berry and sometimes they don't. I've been putting in more berry producers though and more evergreens. I think the birds feel safer in the winter when there are more places to hide. I just planted a yellow-berry yaupon. Haven't seen the birds eating the berries, but I love it and the sign said it would attract birds!

Marlton, NJ

Sounds like your doing a great job Elphaba! I had to look up that last one as I hadn't heard of it before.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

RE cats: We moved around frequently while my husband was in the military. Pueblo West isn't exactly a gardeners paradise, but it is the first place I've lived were I didn't have a problem with the neighborhood cats. We have hawks in the daytime and Great-Horned owls at night, and people don't leave cats (or even small dogs) outside. The birds really appreciate shrubs and trees for shelter - evergreens are popular year round. My Blue Spruce is a condominium for small birds, the larger birds prefer the Pinon Pine.
Lately the Owls have been hunting the Eurasian collared doves - I hope they manage to keep the population under control.

Lakeview, OH

I have planted several different plants in hopes that the Hummingbirds will come more often to our yard, I planted Irises, Naked Ladies, Forever plants, and of course Rose of Sharon. Could someone please tell me if the hummers like the other flowers I have planted will bring them into the yard, I don't know what colors they are or how old they are.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Hummingbirds might come to anything that has nectar and/or tiny insects. However, they prefer plants with tubular orange/red blossoms. For most of the native plants with that shape of blossom, Hummingbirds are the pollinators and the plants have evolved to provide exactly what the Hummingbirds are looking for, and vice versa.
So, teddy in Ohio, that is a "maybe" on the iris, a "probably" on the Rose-of-Sharon, and a "I dunno" on the Naked Ladies & Forever (?) plant. My mother used to have Naked Ladies (Amaryllis), I don't remember seeing Hummingbirds around them.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

May I add, besides "...plants with tubular orange/red blossoms." Hummers also love blue tubular flowers such as salvias. As far as red, during the summer time, if I wear a red shirt out in the garden, those hummers will zip about to check out my shirt as well. :)

Lakeview, OH

Lily_love, I know what you mean, I had a tie-dye shirt and it was red, orange, and yellow, they loved that shirt, they were forever flying around it.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

I like the plants with bell-shaped blue blossoms, too, such as Rocky Mountain penstemon. They attract Bumblebees - which I think are entertaining to watch - and other beneficial insects, plus Hummingbirds.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

Salvias, Agastache, and Penstemon are all favorites of the Hummers. They are all pretty easy to grow also--not water hogs.
They also like to build their nests in narrow leaf evergreens.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

RE: Hummingbird nests - I did a google search of images of Hummingbird nests. I couldn't recognise all the locations - but there did seem to be a lot of oak.

Lakeview, OH

We have a Cottonwood tree in our front yard right in front of the house right beside the hummingbird feeder, and I know for a fact that our resident female made a nest in that tree and we got to see her teach her baby how to fly and drink nectar out of the feeder.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Teddy, that sounds like a wonderful experience to be able to watch those little tiny jewels caring for their youngs. I hope some day I should be so lucky.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Two years ago, I had a female Black-chinned gathering spiderwebs for a nest at the same time the cottonwood cotton was flying. I never found the nest, but I strongly suspect she used cottonwood cotton, too. People cuss the cotton - but I think it is probably important to nesting birds.

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Nice link, birder.

Here are a couple things:

I have heard that hummingbirds like to make nests in trees that form more of a "V" with their branches.
If you saw that PBS special on hummingbirds, you may recall that some birds make their nests near hawks, because it provides them with protection
Tigerlily from Oregon has hummingbird taking cattails that have gone to fuzz. I also saved my milkweed seed silk for them. I'm still trying to entice them to nest in/near my yard.


Lakeview, OH

I have one wish this next summer, to get one to drink from my hand, if that ever happens I will be happy. I will start trying when it gets a lot warmer. I am sure we will have plenty of hummingbird pictures to post.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

Hawks - in the PBS video, it was Black-chinned that nest near hawks. I have Black-chinned, some Hawks, and even more Owls. I have never found the nests of any of them. After seeing that PBS documentary, I have wondered if that is why I have more Black-chinned than Broad-tailed - which is supposed to be more common around here. I have also wondered how big a Hummingbird's territory is, because the female was definitely collecting spiderwebs in my yard and later in the summer I get the young ones at my feeders.

Hand-feeding: When I was a kid, we fed Broad-tailed in the mountains. At that time, there wasn't bears in the area - so the feeders hung fairly low for easy access. I remember standing on the porch and reaching up with a toothpick-sized twig to let the bird perch while drinking. Broad-tailed are probably the most sociable Hummingbird, and I remember them being tamer than they are now. Teddy - you might start by hanging a feeder where people spend the most time, this will get them used to people in general. But please don't hang it where they get too close to cats!

Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

Oh, my goodness - I was trying to research shrubs and trees for birds in Illinois and came upon this 4 year old thread! I should have known to go to DG in the first place. It's very hard to find a list of shrubs and trees for birds that is regional - Chicago is unlike Texas is unlike California - and I think I got some good answers here. But . . . I already have a few species of the favored plants - viburnum, chokeberries, and clethra - and have never seen a bird at any of them. It just occurred to me that it could be because we have 4 feeding stations. Would it be better if we had one or two seed feeders and see if they go to the shrubs??

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

In my opinion, it is very nice to have extra feeding stations. Big birds run little birds off. Mockers can be quite territorial. They can't be at both feeders at once. This gives other birds the opportunity to feed at your other feeding stations.
Your birds are probably using the shrubs more than you realize. I don't usually "see" my birds in the shrubs and trees but notice the berries are gone.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

For research, here are two books you might look at:
Bird by Bird Gardening by Sally Roth 2006
The Bird Garden by Stephen W. Kress ( for the National Audubon Society) 1995

Whiteside County, IL(Zone 5a)

Don't give up. I think it was Elphaba that said she has bushes that went unused until this year.

As far as the feeders go, I reduce the number I have in the summer, simply because they go unused.

Pueblo, CO(Zone 5b)

We got slammed with snow last night, which is unusual here. Which reminded me of a couple of obvious things: Providing water - heated in winter, dripping or trickling in summer - makes a big difference. Some of the birds that like small berries in the winter also like suet.

Bloomington, IN(Zone 6a)

Thanks, all! I will look at the books suggested by Pollen and not give up on my shrubs as Mrs. Ed and Birder advised.

In fact, I'm planning to make the back area of my yard, about 45' X 35' a small woodland with two or three small trees under the silver maple (I had it limbed up, so the lowest branch is 35' up), some shrubs, and ground cover. I already have a redbud started by the stump and some serviceberry shrubs around the perimeter. Hopefully, more trees and shrubs will give them more places for cover and berries and such.

Thumbnail by sherriseden
Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

One more book resource: Attracting Birds & Butterflies by Barbara Ellis one of Taylor's Weekend Gardening books Guides.
90% is on Birds and Hummingbirds and the last part of the book is on Butterflies. It's full of good information and lists of plants from trees to vines. It's about 100 pages.

Rockport, TX(Zone 9a)

Mrs. Ed, what an amazing memory you have!

It's true. This year the Wax Myrtle was a big hit for the first time in maybe 5 years. Also, the Mockingbird has been eating the Beautyberries for months now and yet the other day, I looked out and the House Finches were eating beautyberries. I could hardly believe that there were still berries on the plant, but it still has some even now. I've never seen the House Finches eating beautyberries before -- you just never know -- maybe they like frozen berries!

I read about how to grow yaupons from seed. I have the seeds in the refrigerator even now. Can't wait to try growing them -- they need 3 mo. of cold temps to germinate.

I'm going to check out birder17's book suggestion. Most books are geared toward the northern states with plants that won't grow here, but might be fun to look at anyway. This last arctic blast was about the worst freeze we've had in years. Stuff that never freezes looks frozen. Might have to replant a good portion of the yard. Definitely could use more evergreens for canopy effect.

Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

This book has suggestions for zone 8 and 9.

Rockport, TX(Zone 9a)

I just bought bought the book about an hour ago! I read the beginning on amazon and found it quite interesting, so I took the chance. Zone 9 doesn't always work either b/c it's sometimes a California zone 9 and not a Texas one -- very different climates. I sometimes look for similar plants at the arboretum or the butterfly gardens at state parks though when I read about a plant that won't grow here. Sometimes it's just a personal failure like I can't grow butterfly bush to save my life or salvia.

Thanks for the recommendation. I can't wait to read it.

Lakeview, OH

I planted a flower called Cosmos, has anyone here ever heard of it? My flowers I planted last fall are coming up, my Irises are very insistant about it, every time I try to keeep them covered up, they poke through. My Naked Lady plants are shooting up too, also my flowering cabbage or forever plant or whatever they are called have new growth. My Rose of Sharon bushes seem to be alive, I scraped with my fingernail and the color was green. Usually that means the plant is alive, so 3 of the 4 bushes are still alive. Since the bushes had blooms on it when I got it, will they bloom again this year after being transplanted, they had roots when I put them in the ground. Any advice will be appreciated, thanks.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Teddy, Cosmos are annuals. They grow make flowers once and done at the end of the season. In mild climate like where I'm they may reseed themselves. If you like the flowers to attract butterflies? You need to replant them this spring.

I oftent see birds perch on this shrub, but the butterflies appreciate it more this time of year-- down here; Viburnum something, something. The fragrant is wonderful too.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Central, AL(Zone 7b)

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

Viburnum carlcephalum?

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

It was once identified by ViburnumValley, but unfortunately I forgot. Hoping he doesn't mind to help me out again. That does ring a bell Mrs. Ed.

Thumbnail by Lily_love
Jackson, MO(Zone 6b)

I really like Viburnums. Lily-Love, I have this Viburnum also-or it's brother! It's a Viburnum carlesii 'Korean Spice', or Viburnum carlesii 'Aurora' or Viburnum carlesii 'Cayuga'. I have two of the above, but I am not sure which ones I have. I believe mine are V. Koreanspice and V. carlesii ?? I remember the tag just said Viburnum carlesii on the latter one.
This is my opinion and someone more knowledgeable can correct this.

Central, AL(Zone 7b)

Thanks birder17. Hope someone will confirm the I.D. then I'll file it away for keep.

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