Think of your own outdoor surroundings as an ecosystem. Your landscape can be a haven and a habitat for environmentally-important wildlife, including birds. Although migratory patterns are different around the country and you may have different feathered friends around in fall, winter, spring and summer, you can attract and nourish many species of birds with plants rich in nectar, fruits or seeds. Bonus: you get to enjoy beautiful views of your landscape and of colorful, interesting birds.
Here are some of our suggestions for bird-friendly plantings, including native perennials, shrubs and trees that are naturally enticing to winged creatures:
• ECHINACEA Pow Wow Wild Berry coneflowers are a vibrant addition to summer gardens and attract birds as well as important pollinators. Birds get sustenance from the seeds from spent flowers, including in the colder months when the seeds have fallen to the ground.
• CLETHRA alnifolia Hummingbird, as its name suggests, is a hummingbird-friendly shrub. If you love the fleeting sight of hummingbirds in your garden, this plant is for you. It’s also “people friendly”, with pretty and sweetly fragrant white flowers that last from June through August and glossy, dark green foliage.
• Sambucus nigra Laced Up™ elderberry is a shrub that offers large pink flowers in summer and — when pollinated by Black Lace®, Instant Karma® or Black Beauty™ elderberry — purple berries that emerge in mid-summer through early fall. Birds like warblers, thrashers and mockingbirds are attracted to elderberry shrubs.
• Sure, they’re stately and offer an eye-appealing canopy, but oak trees also attract and protect birds as habitats and a food source, courtesy of local insects. QUERCUS macdaniella Heritage oak is a fast growing oak tree with glossy dark green leaves.
• Crabapple trees, such as Royal Raindrops Crabapples, produce a tiny, bright red fruit appearing during late summer. The fruit not only adds appeal during the winter but creates another very popular food choice for birds.
• Evergreens, like the PICEA pungens Baby Blue conical spruce, are tall trees that serve a sanctuary for birds in cold-weather, thanks to year-round foliage.
• Likewise, holly shrubs with long-lasting berries, such as LEX mes Blue Princess, help sustain birds throughout the year and are easy, low-maintenance plants that thrive in full-sun or part-shade areas. This variety must be pollinated by at least one ‘Blue Prince’ holly shrub to produce berries.
As cold weather approaches in many parts of the country, you can also help your local bird population by placing bird feeders near the shelter of your trees and shrubs and setting out water during winter via small saucers. If your bird feeders are near a window, you’ll also get to enjoy a glimpse of nature.
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