Opened on February 26, 2021. Last updated by The POOG on March 01, 2021.v

There are many sites with information on plants that attract birds as a food source or provide other functions such as nesting sites[4][6]. Some specific plants and trees are identified below. When choosing a plant, go to the references since they often contain growth characteristics and cultural information.

Most trees, shrubs and vines that provide food for birds, do so through their fruit and seeds. These are post-flowering in their development and so don’t provide nourishment in most cases until late summer, fall or winter. Flowers on the other hand, may provide nourishment for birds beginning in the spring, particularly for birds that use nectar or the insects that attack the plants.

Flowers

For Spring Birds

  • Bachelor’s buttons (cornflower) (Centaurea cyanus, annual))[7]: Likely visitors are finches, buntings and sparrows.
  • Baptisia (Baptisia, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: seedpods.
  • Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa, Zones 3 to 9)[7]:
  • Camellia (Camellia, Zones 6 to 11)[7]: flowers in the fall, winter or early spring, depending on the variety. Provides nest sites.
  • Columbine (Aquilegia, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Foxglove (Digitalis, Zones 3 to 10)[7]: biennial attracts hummingbirds.
  • Fuchsia (Fuchsia species, annual to Zone 8)[7]: attracts hummingbirds.
  • Lupine (Lupinus perennis, Zones 3 to 9)[7].
  • Phlox (Phlox, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: attract hummingbirds and butterflies blooming in spring to summer.
  • Red-hot poker (Kniphofia, Zones 5 to 9) flowers spring to autumn and attract hummingbirds.

For Summer Birds

  • Bee balm (Monarda, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: a perennial that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia species, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: House finches, chickadees and American goldfinches will feed on the seed heads.
  • Blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora, Zones 3 to 9)[7].
  • Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis)[1]: attracts hummingbirds.
  • Coralbells (Heuchera, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: attracts hummingbirds.
  • Coreopsis (Cosmos bipinnatus, annual)[7].
  • Flowering tobacco (Nicotiana alata, annual)[7]: attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Liatris (Liatris spicata, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: attracts hummingbirds to its blossoms and American goldfinches, tufted titmice and others to its seeds.
  • Milkweed (Asclepias spp.)[1]: goldfinches, and other birds, use the downy part of the seed to line their nests. Attracts buterflies.
  • Penstemon (Penstemon species, Zones 3 to 10)[7]: attracts hummingbirds.
  • Primrose (Primula vulgaris, Zones 4 to 8)[7]: attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees.
  • Purple Coneflower (Echinacea spp.)[1][7]]: attracts hummingbirds, butterflies and bees to the flowers and goldfinches and other birds in the fall to the seeds.
  • Salvia (Salvia species, Zones 4 to 9)[7]: attracts hummingbirds[7].
  • Stokesia (Stokesia laevis, Zones 5 to 9)[7].
  • Yarrow (Achillea species, Zones 3 to 10)[7]: flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, while the seeds appeal to many songbirds.
  • Zinnia (Zinnia, annual)[7]: attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.

For Fall Birds

  • Aster (Aster species, Zones 3 to 8)[7]: attracts fall butterflies.
  • Fountain grass (Pennisetum alopecuroides, Zones 5 to 9)[7]: provides wildlife habitat and seed.
  • Goldenrod (Solidago species, Zones 3 to 9)[7]:
  • Joe Pye weed (Eupatorium purpureum, Zones 4 to 9)[7]: seed source.
  • Marigold (Tagetes, annual)[7].
  • Nasturtium (Tropaeolum majus, annual)[7]: attracts hummingbirds and butterflies.
  • Rugosa rose (Rosa rugosa, Zones 2 to 8)[7]: produce bright rose hips that attract birds.
  • Sedum (Sedum species, Zones 3 to 10)[7]: attracts finches, chickadees, and other birds.
  • Sunflower (Helianthus spp.)[1][7]: seeds for migrating birds.

Shrubs and Bushes

  • American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum, Zones 2 to 7)[7]: red berries.
  • Beautyberry (Callicarpa species, Zones 5 to 8)[7]:
  • Blackberry[3]: Warblers, orioles, tanagers, thrashers, mockingbirds, catbirds, turkeys, robins and other thrushes.
  • Boxwood (Buxus spp, Zones 4 to 9)[7]: winter cover.
  • Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)[1]
  • Elderberry (Sambucus spp., Zones 3 to 9)[1][2][3][7][8]: fruit for Brown Thrasher, Red-eyed Vireo, thrushes, warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbird, mockingbirds, and waxwings.
  • Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea, Zones 5 to 9)[7]: pea-size berries.
  • Hawthorn (Crataegus, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: nesting and perching sites.
  • Hibiscus (Hibiscus syriacus)[8]: attracts hummingbirds in summer.
  • Juniper[3]: Bobwhites; turkeys; bluebirds, robins, and other thrushes; thrashers; mockingbirds; catbirds; warblers; grosbeaks; jays; sapsuckers and other woodpeckers; waxwings.
  • Lilac (Syringa spp)[8]: fragrant spring blossom.
  • Mahonia (Mahonia, Zones 5 to 11)[7]: blue-black berries.
  • Nannyberry, arrowwood (Viburnum species)[2][7]: provides nest sites, cover, and food for Tree Swallows (especially wintering), catbirds, bluebirds, Brown Thrasher, robins, thrushes, cardinals, finches, waxwings, others.
  • Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) provides nest sites, cover, and food for Tree Swallows (especially wintering), catbirds, bluebirds, many others.
  • Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)[3]: fruit attracts: Warblers; orioles; tanagers; waxwings; woodpeckers; wrens; bluebirds and other thrushes; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.
  • Rhododendron (Rhododendron species, Zones 4 to 9)[7]: hummingbirds.
  • Serviceberries (Amelanchier spp, Zones 3 to 9)[5][7]: provides nest sites; berries attracts robins, waxwings, cardinals, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, northern mockingbirds, brown thrashers, northern flickers, downy woodpeckers, and more later in the year.
  • Shadbush[3]: berries attract robins; waxwings; orioles; woodpeckers; chickadees; cardinals; jays; doves; and finches.
  • Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina, Zones 3 to 10)[3][7]: fruit attracts warblers; woodpeckers, chickadees, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds, robins, bluebirds, thrushes, cardinals, starlings, Wild Turkey, Pileated Woodpecker, and others.
  • Viburnum (Viburnum species, Zones 3 to 10)[2][3][7][8]: except the double-flowered snowball. Fruit attracts robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, finches, waxwings, others.
  • Weigela[8]: spring blossom for hummingbirds.
  • Winterberry – Holly (Ilex species, Zones 5 to 9)[7]: winter protection and bright berries that attract robins, bluebirds, waxwings, and others. Plants may be female or male requiring both for fruit production.

Trees

  • Arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis, Zones 3 to 7)[7]: seeds and generous cover for birds.
  • Blue spruce (Picea pungens, Zones 2 to 8)[7]: provide winter shelter and cones produce seed.
  • Buckeye (Aesculus species, Zones 3 to 8)[7]: flowering shrub attracts hummingbirds in spring.
  • Cherry (Prunus species, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: fruit in spring to summer.
  • Chokeberry Red (Aronia arbutifolia, Zones 4 to 9) and Black (Aronia melanocarpa, Zones 3 to 9)[7]: white, red, or bluish-black fruit (depending on variety) attracts songbirds in fall and winter.
  • Chokecherry – Shubert’s[2]: fruit for birds.
  • Conifers[2]: seeds and nesting.
  • Crabapple (Malus species, Zones 2 to 9)[5][7]: provides nest sites, cover, and food for robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, finches, many others
  • Dogwoods (Cornus florida, spp.; Red-osier[7]; gray[7], Zones 2 to 8)[1][3][5]: provides nest sites, cover, and fruit that attracts robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, tanagers, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, thrashers, vireos, kingbirds, juncos, warblers, Wild Turkey, grouse, and mockingbirds.
  • Eastern red cedar (Juniperus virginiana)[5]: provides excellent nest sites and cover; fleshy, pale blue, berry-like cones borne on female trees only
  • Hemlock (Tsuga, Zones 4 to 8)[7]: provides dense shelter for ground-feeding birds like towhees and juncos.
  • Maple and Oak (Quercus spp.)[1][2]: high nesting for orioles, tanagers and the red-eyed vireo.
  • Mayday Tree Prunus padus commutata)[2]
  • Mountain ash (Sorbus species, Zones 2 to 7)[2][7]: fruit for robins, cedar waxwings, gray catbirds, thrashers, eastern bluebirds, and other birds.
  • Mulberry (Morus spp)[3][5]: provides nest sites and fruit that attracts robins, waxwings, cardinals, warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds, bluebirds, and other thrushes.
  • Pine (Pinus, most zones, check species)[7]: provide shelter and nesting sites.
  • Redbud (Cercis species, Zones 4 to 10)[7]: blooms attract hummingbirds and butterflies, as well as pollinating insects that benefit your backyard. The seeds appeal to chickadees, goldfinches and others, and nuthatches and woodpeckers love the insects in the bark.
  • Russian olive[2]: fruit.
  • Spruces (Picea species)[5]: provides nest sites and seed-bearing cones for crossbills and other seed-eaters in fall and winter. migrating warblers in spring.
  • White birch[2]: seeds for redpolls, pine siskins and goldfinch.
  • White oak (Quercus alba)[5]: provides nest sites, cover, and food for woodpeckers, jays, Wild Turkeys, grouse, Wood Ducks, others.

Vines

  • American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens, Zones 3 to 8)[7]:
  • Trumpet Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)[1]: nectar and fruit. Purple Finches and Hermit Thrushes eat their fruit. Throughout the year, hummingbirds like the nectar. During migration, Baltimore Orioles get to the nectar by eating the flowers.
  • Trumpet vine (Campsis radicans, Zones 4 to 9)[7]: attracts hummingbirds.
  • Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinqefolia)[1][2][7]: provides nest sites, cover, and fruit for mockingbirds, nuthatches, woodpeckers, kingbirds, flycatchers, bluebirds, blue jays, robins, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, starlings, Wild Turkey, vireos, warblers, and Pileated Woodpeckers.
  • Wild grape (Vitis species, Zones 2 to 9)[7]: provides excellent nest sites, nest materials, and cover; Attracts robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, orioles, Wild Turkey, Pileated Woodpecker, mockingbirds, thrashers, many others.

For Hummingbirds in Particular

Annual flowers: petunias, phlox, snapdragon, cleome, Sweet William, nicotiana,and zinnias. Perennials: gladioli, red hot poker, bee balm, bleeding heart, columbine and penstemon. Also, the vines, morning glory, trumpet vine and scarlet runner bean. Flowering shrubs include weigela, beauty bush, butterfly bush, coralberry, flowering currant and flowering quince.

From Earlier Work

PlantZSMaximum Hight x Width; characteristicsBird species Attracted
American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)3-8W30 feet; pollination needs one male for every five females.Robins, waxwings, cardinals, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, others
American cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum)2-7S-W8 to 10 feet tall
Arborvitae  (Thuja occidentalis)3-7dense, with a pyramidal shape
Beautyberry (Callicarpa spp.)5-8F-Wfast-growing shrub that will reach about 4 feet in height
Crabapple (Malus spp.)3-9F-WRobins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, finches, many others
**Elderberries (Sambucus spp.)3-9S10 feetIndigo Bunting, Oriole, bluebirds, Grosbeak(s), Song Sparrow, Warblers, tanagers, catbirds; thrashers. mockingbirds, waxwings
*Flowering dogwood (Cornus florida)2-8Fornamental tree, to 40 feet highRobins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, tanagers, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, thrashers, mockingbirds.
Hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)W45 feet
Hibiscus4-9to 7×3 feetHummingbirds
Holly (Ilex spp.); Winterberry (Ilex verticillata)5-9F-Wsmall bushes to 60-foot treesRobins, bluebirds, waxwings, thrushes, woodpeckers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds.
**Red-osier dogwood, gray dogwood …  (Cornus spp.)F4-10 feet. Fruit with high fat contentRobins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, vireos, kingbirds, juncos, cardinals, warblers, Wild Turkey, grouse, others
Mountain ash2-6F-Wrobins, cedar waxwings
**Mulberries (Morus spp.)SMedium-sized trees, 30 to 60 feetRobins, waxwings, cardinals, warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds, bluebirds, thrushes.
*Nannyberry, arrowwood (Viburnum spp.)F-W35 feetRobins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, finches, waxwings, Pine Grosbeaks, finches, waxwings
*Northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica)F-WTree Swallows (especially wintering), catbirds, bluebirds, many others.
Red chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia)4-9F-W6 to 10 feet
Russian olive
**Serviceberry or Shagbush (Amelanchier spp.)3-9SMedium-sized trees, 25 to 60 feet highRobins, waxwings, cardinals, vireos, tanagers, grosbeaks, mockingbirds, thrashers, flickers, downy woodpeckers, chickadees
**Weigela4-8Sshrub; Weigela WINE & ROSESHummingbirds

References

  1. 10 Plants for a Bird-Friendly Yard. Audubon. March 13, 2015.
  2. Inviting birds to your garden. Landscape Ontario.
  3. Oder T. 10 Berries That Birds Love. Treehugger. Updated February 09, 2018.
  4. Plants and Trees that Attract Birds. Birds&Blooms.
  5. The Best Trees, Vines, and Shrubs to Plant for Birds: a Starter List. Cornell University. April 20, 2009.
  6. Roth S. Birdscaping: Grow Plants for Nesting Birds. Birds&Blooms. Updated: January 29, 2021.
  7. Rennicke C. Plants that Attract Birds in All Seasons. Birds&Blooms. Updated: April 24, 2020.
  8. Shrubs to Attract Birds. PW.