I love inviting a variety of birds into my yard, and it turns out that the versatility of trees I plant can make a huge difference in how many and what types of birds I’ll see. Here’s what I focus on to create a bird-friendly habitat:
- Plant native trees, as they’re most likely to thrive and provide the best food sources.
- Opt for a mix of species to cater to different bird preferences for food and shelter.
- Favor trees with berries and seeds, like serviceberry and crabapple, for ample food supply.
- Include evergreens like Western Red Cedar for year-round shelter.
- Consider trees that attract insects, too, as they serve as a food source for birds.
To make my yard a sanctuary for birds, I start by selecting a variety of trees that birds are naturally drawn to, ensuring I have both evergreen and deciduous types for diverse shelter options. I also focus on native species to ensure the trees are well-adapted to my local environment, making them easier and cheaper to maintain.
For food sources, I choose trees with berries and nuts, such as serviceberry or oak. These not only feed birds but also look beautiful throughout the seasons. To cover for winter, I plant trees like winterberry for birds that overwinter in my area.
To provide protection and nesting spots, I intersperse trees of varying heights and canopies. For example, staghorn sumac has a unique structure that’s perfect for shelter. Lastly, I ensure there’s a freshwater source nearby, like a birdbath, which is an easy addition that complements the trees.
Planting these trees doesn’t just yield benefits for the birds; it also provides me with the pleasure of watching a lively avian community right from my own window. Plus, it feels great knowing I’m contributing to local wildlife conservation in my own small way.
As much as we hate it, our perfectly manicured lawns aren’t doing us any favors when it comes to attracting birds to our property. Although our yards may look nice, wildlife has survival needs that most of us aren’t supplying. Trees birds love are essential if you want to bring a vast array of bird species to your home.
Sure, putting out bird feeders and a birdbath may lead them to make a pit stop, but providing them with more sustenance is the key to becoming a genuinely bird-friendly environment.
Planting the trees draws birds and helps provide shelter, nesting sites, and, most importantly, food. When you’re able to supply wildlife with everything they need for security, that’s when you’ll start to see them stick around for good.
- Necessities for Attracting Birds to Your Home
- Food-Producers: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
- North American Oak (Quercus alba)
- Serviceberry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
- Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) – A Tasty Tree
- Crabapple (Malus hupehensis)
- Winterberry (Ilex verticillate)
- A Beautiful Tree that Attracts Birds – Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)
- Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
- Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemose)
- American Elm (Ulmus americana) – Sturdy Trees for Wildlife
- Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
- Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
- Aromatic Bird Trees: Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
- Mountain Ash (Sorbus commixta)
Necessities for Attracting Birds to Your Home
The most important thing for the wildlife around your property is finding a stable food source. Although many of the trees on this list produce types of berries and seeds for them to eat, they’ll also attract insects that they love feasting on as well.
Some provide food during the sparse winter, and they also attract migrating birds that don’t typically live in your region. Another smart way to attract wildlife is by planting native trees.
Native plants to your area are more likely to thrive in the environment and offer the nutrition that birds require. Finally, when planting trees for birds, use a variety of species.
Some birds that eat seeds prefer taller canopies while others seek out evergreen conifers for yearly shelter. Growing an assortment of trees is the most foolproof way to get as many species to your yard as possible.
You’ll soon have orioles, hummingbirds, grosbeaks, and catbirds stopping at your homemade bird oasis.
Food-Producers: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)
The flowering dogwood is a tree ideal for adding year-round beauty to your property. The spring welcomes beautiful blooms of red, pink, and white flowers. As summer rolls around, these amazing trees for butterflies and birds are lush with bright green foliage.
Fall turns the leaves from green to reddish-purple. Finally, the winter showcases bright red berries that welcome some of our favorite backyard birds, like bluebirds.
Flowering dogwoods are deciduous trees native to the eastern United States. They perform best when planted in partial shade and have frequent water during hot conditions.
Only transplant dogwoods in the late fall or early spring. Spread a layer of mulch around the base of the trunk to conserve water.
North American Oak (Quercus alba)
The North American Oak is a massive specimen with a stocky trunk and wide-spreading branches. The ash-gray bark gives it a unique appearance, and the blue-green leaves transition to wine red and burnt orange in the fall.
Acorns appear on mature trees, and they provide food for bird species like warblers or nuthatch birds. North American Oaks grow roughly 80 feet tall and wide.
These are fast-growing trees that live as long as 600 years and are hardy in USDA hardiness zones three through nine. They love being in full sun and rich, acidic soil. They are mildew resistant but keep an eye out for leaf miners and lace bugs.
Serviceberry (Amelanchier lamarckii)
The serviceberry is a small tree famous in Europe for its bronze and red leaves and white flowers. Their reddish-purple and black berries are food sources for species like songbirds and chickadees.
The fruits from serviceberry trees are also edible for humans and frequently made into jams and pies. The foliage is dark green with toothed, oval leaves that turn bright orange in the fall.
Serviceberry trees grow only 25 feet tall and wide. They thrive in conditions from full sun to partial shade and grow best in moist, acidic soil. These trees are low maintenance and pest and disease-free. Use them as a specimen plant or for hedges.
Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina) – A Tasty Tree
The staghorn sumac tree is an award-winning tree. It is a spreading shrub with fern-like, green leaves that turn fiery orange and red in the fall. Once the leaves drop for winter, the one-of-a-kind architecture of the branches provides visual interest.
Crimson red fruits appear in the fall and help attract wildlife. Staghorn sumacs offer both food and shelter for birds like thrushes. The staghorn sumac grows to 15 feet tall and 20 feet wide.
They are lovers of the sun or part shade and hardy in zones three through eight. Sumacs like soils ranging from dry to medium moisture, as long as it is well-draining. They have no serious pest or disease problems and are drought resistant.
Crabapple (Malus hupehensis)
Crabapples are beloved by many for their outstanding visuals. These trees attracting hummingbirds and other bird and animal species have stunning pink and red blooms every spring with sweet nectar.
Once the flowers fade, small fruits appear and become a snacking station for squirrels and other wildlife. Crabapple trees require a location with full sun and well-draining soil.
Too much shade causes the canopy to be less dense and attractive, while full sun supports plenty of lush growth and color. The sun also helps prevent diseases.
Water crabapple trees regularly throughout the first year. Newly planted trees only require fertilizer until the following spring.
Winterberry (Ilex verticillate)
Winterberry, or holly, are trees birds love. Winterberry trees are native to North America and typically grow in moist conditions, like near swamps or thickets near ponds and rivers.
This plant gets its name from the Christmas-colored red berries that last throughout the winter. Birds, like thrashers, pluck the berries from the plant for a tasty meal.
Winterberry never grows larger than 15 feet high. They have smooth gray bark and slender branches. The leaves are dark green in summer and transition to bright yellow in the fall. They prefer acidic and moist soil and can be pruned whenever necessary.
A Beautiful Tree that Attracts Birds – Viburnum (Viburnum opulus)
Viburnum plants are large shrubs that form upright mounds reaching 12 feet high. They grow large, snowball-like clusters of flowers that start green and morph to white. The leaves on these fast growing shrubs for wildlife closely resemble maple tree leaves and turn red and orange every fall.
Red berries show up in the fall and winter, and these shrubs provide food and shelter for birds like cedar waxwings. Viburnums are relatively large, so make sure they are in a location with plenty of space.
They thrive in full sun and grow bigger and bushier with less shade. Viburnums are low maintenance once established and only require fertilizing and pruning once or twice per year. Viburnums like having loamy soil and tolerate a wide range of pH levels.
Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
One popular tree for birds is the red mulberry tree. These plants are popular as ornamental shade trees and provide edible fruits for birds like mockingbirds, tanagers, and orioles.
Where do mulberries come from? These are native trees to North America and are hardy in USDA zones four through eight. Grow red mulberry trees in full sun and fertile soil. They tolerate part shade and are used for areas requiring erosion control or salt tolerance.
These deciduous trees grow 80 feet tall and live for around 75 years. Prune them whenever they become overgrown to keep a clean and tidy look around your home.
Red Elderberry (Sambucus racemose)
The red elderberry plant is a tree-like shrub reaching heights of only 20 feet. They are native to Europe, Asia, and North America and are often used as ornamental plants.
These fast growing fruit trees provide vibrant red fruits that are popular foods for the goldfinch and mockingbirds, and they have glossy green leaves and white flowers during the spring and fall. Where do elderberries grow? Elderberry trees don’t require special conditions to grow and there are few elderberry bugs that you have to worry about.
However, giving them optimal growing conditions helps them be stronger and healthier while producing a more robust fruit yield for wildlife. Add balanced fertilizer to the ground every spring and keep a soil pH range of 5.0 to 8.0 when growing elderberry bushes.
American Elm (Ulmus americana) – Sturdy Trees for Wildlife
American elms are stately trees birds love. Elm trees have oval, saw-toothed leaves with distinct veins. The trunk’s bark has deep grooves, and the limbs spread tall and wide.
Reaching heights of 120 feet tall, these large plants create nesting sites for birds like the grosbeaks.
Dutch elm disease is the biggest problem for American elms. It once killed millions of trees in Europe and the United States and is usually fatal. Make sure to buy the varieties with built-in resistance to it.
Elm trees like to have partial shade or full sun. The best soil is moist and well-draining, although they adapt to wet and dry soil too. They have a shallow root system that may lift sidewalks and other cemented areas, so make sure they have plenty of space to sprawl.
Silver Birch (Betula pendula)
Birch trees are known for their silver bark that peels from the trunk. They provide an exciting landscape through all four seasons with their foliage that turns golden yellow in the fall.
The seeds create meals for bird species like the junco. Birch trees reach up to 65 feet tall and 30 feet wide, but they have a shallow root system, making them sensitive to drought and high temperatures.
Planting birch trees where their roots receive shade, but their leaves get lots of sunlight is ideal. They grow best in slightly acidic soil types and stick around for about 50 years.
Arrowwood (Viburnum dentatum)
Arrowwood trees are a type of viburnum and an increasingly popular ornamental plant. They are native to North America and hardy in zones three through eight.
These adaptable shrubs grow nine feet tall and eight feet wide. They have lots of stems that provide nesting sites for catbirds and showcase purple and red foliage in the fall.
Arrowwoods are some of the easiest to grow of its species. They have a fibrous root system that allows for easy transplantation, and they are part of the natural ecosystem. Place your arrowwoods in partial sun and moist, fertile soil.
Aromatic Bird Trees: Western Red Cedar (Thuja plicata)
Western Red Cedars are magnificent trees with aromatic leaves and reddish-brown bark. These are evergreen conifers that attract birds like woodpeckers and tanagers. The branches are short and limp, and the tree reaches as tall as 120 feet high and 60 feet wide.
Western red cedar trees are hardy in USDA zones six through eight. They require minimal care once they establish themselves in their new environment. These trees tolerate highly acidic soil and are most commonly found in the Pacific Northwest.
Mountain Ash (Sorbus commixta)
Mountain ash trees are eye-catching trees that come in a variety of sizes. They flower in the spring and produce orange and red berries that pop against the fall’s dark green foliage.
The berries attract birds like orioles and are great for homeowners looking to add a pop of color to the yard.
In the late fall or early spring, plant mountain ash trees to reduce stress from transplanting and allowing them time to settle before the growing season begins. Place them in an area that receives full sunlight, so they grow as large as possible.
When you’re trying to attract a specific bird species to your home, the most important thing to remember is that they’re looking for an ideal habitat.
When you provide birds with the food, water, shelter, and safety from predators, the chances of them sticking around become increasingly high. By planting the right trees, your home becomes a haven for your favorite types of winged animals.
If these trees birds love will help you attract your favorite species, please share these bird-friendly plants on Facebook and Pinterest.