To attract birds to your backyard, you will need to provide the three main conditions to help them thrive: shelter, food, water. We all know that birdbaths and birdfeeders will attract our feathered friends to our neighbourhood. In addition, there are things you can keep in mind while you plan for your landscaping and flower beds this spring that will make your yard bird-friendly year-round.Here is a list of plants that offer different bird-attractive features to implement into your landscape. All the plants listed will grow in New Brunswick, but please check which gardening zone covers your area to make sure they are hardy for your yard.
Trees and Shrubs for Shelter and Food
(whether used as single specimens, in groups or as a hedge)
Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.), Mountain Ash (Sorbus spp.), Hazelnut (Corylus spp.), Holly (Ilex spp.), wild Cherry (Prunus spp.), Sumac (Rhus spp.), Currants (Ribes spp.), Roses that produce rose hips (Rosa rugosa), Blackberries (Rubus spp.), American Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Blueberries (Vaccinium spp.), Highbush Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), Hawthorn (Cratagus spp.), Barberry (Berberis spp.), Coral Beauty (Cotoneaster ‘Coral Beauty’), Burning Bush, the dwarf variety (Euonymus alatus ‘Compactus’), and Weigela spp.
You can also incorporate Vines in your hedge or on trellises that birds love, such as American Bittersweet (Celastrus scandens), Honeysuckle (Lonicera spp.), Grapes (Vitis spp.), Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), climbing Roses, Trumpetvine (Campsis radicans), Clematis spp., and Morning Glory (Ipomea spp.).
You can plant any combination of the above options in a mixed or a single specimen format, trim them to keep them small if you wish, and delight in the abundance of berries and fruits that they produce for your fall and winter visitors.
Perennials and Annuals In Containers and Garden Beds
Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi), Garden Primrose (Oenothera spp.), Phlox varieties, Milkweed (Asclepias spp.), Cone Flower & Black-eyed Susan (Echinacea, Rudbeckia), Sunflower (Helianthus spp.), Blanket Flower (Gaillardia), Coreopsis, Marigolds (Tagetes), Joe-Pye-Weed (Eupatorium spp.), Globe Thistle (Echinops), Yarrow (Achillea spp.), Aster, Osteospermum, Calendula, Chrysanthemum, Artemisia, Erigeron, Forget-me-not (Myosotis), Heliotrope, Borage, Lavender (Lavandula spp.), Passion Flower (Passiflora), Fuchsia, Lamb’s Ears (Stachys spp.), and all the herbs such as Catnip, Sage, Parsley, Rosemary, etc.
These flowering plants are most especially attractive to Hummingbirds:
Wandflower (Gaura lindheimeri), Daylilies (Hemerocallis spp. and varieties), Columbine (Aquilegia spp.), Pineapple Sage (Salvia elegans), Penstemon, Beebalm (Monarda didyma), Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis), Coral Bells (Heuchera spp.), Peony (Paenioa spp.), Hibiscus, Garden Phlox (Phlox paniculata), Echinacea spp., Oriental Poppy (Papaver spp.).
Now onto the Seed-Bearing Trees that attract birds. Many of these trees also attract Wood Warblers in the spring with their flowers where they find the first insects coming out of hibernation.
Maple, including Box Elder (Acer negundo): Finch, Grosbeak, Chickadee and Nuthatch.
Birch (Betula spp): Finch, Chickadee, Crossbill, Pine Siskin, Redpoll, Fox & Tree Sparrow.
Catalpa: Cardinal, Finch, Grosbeak.
Aspen, Poplar, Cottonwood (Populus spp): Crossbill, Finch, Quail
Willow (Salix spp.) for their buds: Grosbeak, Grouse, Redpoll.
Grasses ~ Make a Grass Bed for Seed-Eaters
Plant these grasses in a site that gets full sun, and make sure you dig down to a depth of at least 6 inches. No need to fertilise. They are fast growing, but keep the seeds moist to help with germination. Make your grass area square or rectangular, and place a marker to show that it’s not just a neglected part of your garden, but a controlled plant bed. These are some of the most bird-loved grasses for their seeds.
Crabgrass (Digitaria): Chipping & Song Sparrows
Switchgrass: Panicum virgatum
Millet: Panicum miliaceum
Canaray Grass: Phalaris canariensis
Foxtails: Setaria spp.
Milo: Sorghum bicolour
Wheat: Triticum spp.
Annual Ryegrass: Lolium multiflorum
This is by no means the last word on what you can plant to attract birds, but it’s a start. I hope you have great birding days while you watch all the birds that come to enjoy the blooms, seeds and fruits from your landscape, containers and garden beds.
Many thanks to these references:
Backyard Bird Feeder’s Bible, Sally Roth, Rodale Press, 2000.
Jean Sorensen: http://landscapenewbrunswick.com/winters-bounty-of-beautiful-berries/
Birds and Blooms website: http://www.birdsandblooms.com/gardening/drought-tolerant-gardening/top-10-low-maintenance-perennials/
Lotus Land: http://www.lotusland.org/learn-green-practices/attracting-beneficial-bugs-birds-and-butterflies/
Raymonde Savoie in Moncton, New Brunswick