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Landscaping That's for the Birds

Winterberries

Winterberries (Ilex verticillata) put on a spectacular show in late fall and early winter—until the birds find them.

Birdfeeders aren't the only tools for attracting birds. By choosing the right trees, shrubs and perennials, you can create a habitat that will draw birds and other wildlife.

  • Conifers provide cover, winter shelter and summer nesting sites. Some also provide sap, buds and seeds.
  • Grasses and legumes provide cover for ground-nesting birds if the area is not mowed during the nesting season. Some also provide seeds.
  • Nectar-producing plants attract hummingbirds and orioles. Hummingbirds especially like tubular red flowers, such as fuchsia, bee balm, coral bells and penstemon.
  • Summer-fruiting plants include cherry, honeysuckle, raspberry, serviceberry, grape and plum. Birds attracted include brown thrashers, robins, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, orioles, cardinals, towhees and grosbeaks.
  • Fall-fruiting plants include dogwoods, mountain ash, winterberries and cotoneasters. They are used by both migratory birds preparing to leave and non-migratory species preparing for winter.
  • Many winter-fruiting plants are not palatable until they have frozen and thawed numerous times. These include glossy black chokecherry, Siberian crabapple, snowberry, bittersweet, sumac and Virginia creeper.
  • Nut and acorn plants provide food and nesting habitat. They include oaks, hickories, buckeyes, chestnuts, butternuts and walnuts. Broken nuts and acorns.