Attracting Wild Birds with Trees – Backyard Habitat Ideas
Trees are an important element of successful bird garden design. They offer shelter and protection from predators, nesting sites as well as may provide a food source for songbirds. Trees which produce fruit or berries for birds will ensure that they visit your yard! A good bird garden design will incorporate both evergreen and deciduous trees.
In winter, evergreen trees will offer nighttime roosting spots for birds which will keep them safe from winter weather. Deciduous trees often provide quality food in the form of berries and fruit. Bird friendly trees also have value to a homeowner and can make wonderful ornamental plants for your landscape or be incorporated into privacy hedges.
Here are suggestions for large or small bird friendly trees:
Small Trees for Creating a Bird Garden
Serviceberry – Native serviceberry is a wonderful small tree or shrub with pretty white flowers in spring and berries in fall. The edible berries taste like blueberries but if you want them for yourself, you’ll have to beat the birds to them! The fall color is outstanding, making this tree ideal for an ornamental landscape design while also being wildlife friendly.
American Fringe Tree – American Fringe tree is an underused tree for ornamental landscapes. Charming, tassel like flowers appear early in the growing season and the bright yellow fall color is outstanding. This native tree has male and female plants. Female plants will produce blue fruit in fall which will attract birds to a garden. The blue fruit has an attractive, slightly metallic tint.
Crabapple – Crabapple is a must have small tree for creating a bird garden. The fruit is readily eaten by birds and other wildlife. Be selective when choosing a crabapple cultivar to plant in a wildlife habitat as the fruits on different trees are not the same size. Birds will require smaller sized crabapples in order to be able to eat them. Prairiefire is a good choice for a bird garden design.
Flowering Dogwood – Dogwoods are a classic tree for southern gardens with their welcoming blooms in spring. The bright red berries in fall are also a great food source for resident songbirds as well as migrating visitors. Dogwood will tolerate shade so may be grown along woodland edges. Flowing dogwood may have pink or white blooms depending on the cultivar you choose.
Hollywood Juniper – Hollywood juniper is an unusual small conifer with an irregular growth habit. This evergreen can be used in a living privacy fence but also is valuable when planted in a bird garden. The blue berries late in the season will be quickly eaten by songbirds and other wildlife. The evergreen foliage also provides birds with nesting sites and protection from predators.
Sassafras – A beautiful small tree for a bird garden which has unique, mitten like leaves and outstanding fall color. The drupe shape fruit in fall is a songbird favorite. Sassafras is a native tree which thrives in the forest understory so can tolerate some shade. In fall the foliage is multi colored pastels.
Large Trees for Creating a Bird Garden
Black Gum – Nyssa or black gum is one of the most valuable canopy trees you can plant in a wildlife habitat. The small, insignificant flowers will attract pollinators while later in the season, drupe like fruit will be consumed by many bird species. Black gum is attractive to migrating birds which will offer you the opportunity to see unusual songbirds. Fall foliage color is a brilliant red.
Eastern Red Cedar – An evergreen conifer, eastern red cedar provides shelter and nesting sites in a bird garden while providing a homeowner with privacy and a windbreak. The berries are quickly eaten by birds, in particular the cedar waxwing. If you would like to invite these migrating beauties to your property, plant eastern red cedar.
Southern Magnolia – The large, showy flowers are a classic in southern gardens. Not only will a magnolia tree provide you with a beautiful floral display and evergreen privacy, birds will love this tree. Southern magnolia creates nesting sites and predator protection along with roosting sites during the winter. The red seeds are also a favorite summer food source for songbirds.
More on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Backyard Habitat
This is part of our series on Creating a Wildlife Friendly Garden. For a successful bird garden you will need:
Water – A creek, water garden, pond or bird bath for a water supply.
Food – Fruit, berry and seed plants. See:
Native Shrubs for a Bird Garden
Perennials to Attract Butterflies and Pollinators
Shrubs for Butterfly, Bee and Pollinator Friendly Gardens
Coverage and Nesting Sites – Evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs for protected nest building spots. Visit:
Hedgerows for Wildlife Gardens Backyard Habitat
Need Help with Designing a Bird Friendly Garden?
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