Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

Berries That Attract Birds

20150917A
Cedar waxwing harvesting Boston ivy berries.

Bird feeders are great for attracting seed-eating birds like chickadees, mourning doves, starlings, and sparrows. And of course, hummingbird feeders will attract hummingbirds. But there is a whole group of birds that feeders just don’t reach: fruit-eating birds.

This group, which includes robins, mockingbirds, thrashers, tanagers, orioles, waxwings, and others, are particularly fond of berries and other small fruits. They also eat insects, especially during the summer, because that’s what they feed their young, but when the brood is gone, they start to look for fruit to eat again. If you can supply the berries they want, you’ll be able to draw them into your yard.

In the wild, wild berries abound: on the edges of fields, in clearings in woods, along streams, etc. In cities, though, more space is given over to asphalt and concrete than berry bushes and fruit trees. And in suburbs, the ever-present “green lawn” creates a bird desert that only a few worm-eating species will visit. But it’s easy enough to change that! Just integrate some of the following plants into your landscaping and you’ll see. To paraphrase the movie, “if you plant them, they will come”.

A major plus is that berries are ornamental too, plus many of these plants offer beautiful flowers and often attractive foliage too, green in summer and brilliantly colorful in fall. Of course, most are also delicious… but you have to make a decision here: if you choose to harvest them yourself, you won’t attract birds!

Here are some varieties well worth trying:

  1. Actaea spp. (black cohosh) Zone 3
  2. Amelancher spp. (serviceberry) zones 2 to 4, depending on the species
  3. 20150917B
    Bigleaf porcelain vine (Ampelopsis macrocarpa)

    Ampelopsis spp. (porcelain vine) zones 4 to 8, depending on the species

  4. Arctostaphylos spp. (bearberry) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  5. Aronia spp. (chokeberry) zone 3 to 5, depending on the species
  6. Asparagus spp. (asparagus) zones 3 to 10, depending on the species
  7. Berberis spp. (barberry) zones 3 to 8, depending on the species
  8. Callicarpa spp. (beautyberry) zones 6 to 8, depending on the species
  9. Celastrus spp. (bittersweet) zones 3 to 5, depending on the species
  10. Chaenomeles spp. (Japanese quince) zone 5
  11. Cornus spp. (dogwood) zones 1 to 8, depending on the species
  12. Creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)
    Creeping cotoneaster (Cotoneaster horizontalis)

    Cotoneaster spp. (cotoneaster) zones 2-8, depending on the species

  13. Crataegus spp. (hawthorn) zones 3 to 5, depending on the species
  14. Eleaegnus spp. (Russian olive, silverberry) zone 3 to 7, depending on the species
  15. Empetrum spp. (crowberry) Zone 2
  16. Euonymus spp. (euonymus, burning bush) zones 4 to 8, depending on the species
  17. Fragaria spp. (strawberry) zones 2-7, depending on the species
  18. Gaultheria spp. (wintergreen) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  19. Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)
    Sea buckthorn (Hippophae rhamnoides)

    Hippophae rhamnoides (sea buckthorn) Zone 3

  20. Ilex spp. (holly) zones 3 to 10, depending on the species
  21. Juniperus spp. (juniper) zones 2-7, depending on the species
  22. Lonicera spp. (honeysuckle) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  23. Lycium barbarum (goji) zone 6
  24. Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)
    Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)

    Mahonia spp. (Oregon grape) zones 4 to 8, depending on the species

  25. Malus spp. (crabapple) zones 2 to 5, depending on the species
  26. Menispermum spp. (moonseed) Zone 4
  27. Mitchella repens (partridge berry) zone 3
  28. Morus spp. (mulberry) zones 4 to 8, depending on the species
  29. Myrica spp. (bayberry) zones 3-6, depending on the species
  30. Nandina domestica (sacred bamboo) zone 7
  31. Parthenocissus spp. (Boston ivy, Virginia creeper) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  32. Physocarpus spp. (ninebark) zone 3
  33. Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)
    Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

    Phytolacca americana (pokeweed) zone 4

  34. Prunus spp. (cherry, chokecherry, black cherry, plum, wild plum, etc.) zones 2 to 8, depending on the species
  35. Pyracantha spp. (burning bush) zones 6 to 8, depending on the species
  36. Quercus spp. (oak) zones 3 to 9, depending on species
  37. Rhus spp. (sumac) zones 3 to 8, depending on the species
  38. Ribes spp. (currant, gooseberry) zone 3
  39. Rosa spp. (rose) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  40. Rubus spp. (blackberry, raspberry) zones 2-8, depending on the species
  41. Sambucus spp. (elderberry) zone 3 to 5, depending on the species
  42. Smilax spp. (sarsaparilla) zones 3 to 10, depending on the species
  43. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
    Bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara): it’s poisonous to humans, but birds love it!

    Solanum spp. (tomato, bittersweet nightshade) annual or zone 5

  44. Sorbus spp. (mountain ash) zones 3 to 5, depending on the species
  45. Vaccinium spp. (blueberry, lingonberry, cranberry) zones 2-7, depending on the species
  46. Viburnum spp. (viburnum) zones 2 to 6, depending on the species
  47. Vitis spp. (grape) zones 3 to 7, depending on the species

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

4 comments on “Berries That Attract Birds

  1. Pingback: Creating a Bird-Friendly Yard | Laidback Gardener

  2. Emily Reid

    This is an excellent, and comprehensive, list! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Pingback: PLANTING TO ATTRACT SEED-EATING BIRDS – Laidback Gardener

  4. Pingback: Grow Your Own Birdseed! – Laidback Gardener

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