Berry-Important Bushes for Backyard Birds

Gray Catbird
Photo Credit: Deborah Rivel

It’s time to plan your spring gardening.  Whether you are just starting a native plant garden or already have native plants in your yard, we have some ideas that can make your garden a bird magnet year round by providing food and shelter regardless of the season.  Diversity is critical to providing the right habitat and year round food for birds and other wildlife, and fruit-bearing bushes are a year-round home run for birds. So, if you haven’t yet planted any bushes that provide berries for the birds in your area, this spring make this a priority.

Birds have a lot of food to eat when there are insects galore in spring and summer, and seeds in fall.  Having seed or fruit feeders out in summer is great to attract birds, but many birds (and nearly all migratory songbirds) have insect-focused diets and need these supplements far less than when there are a lot of yummy bugs and larvae to eat.  When the weather turns cold, whatever birds are still in your area will find the berries that are formed on these bushes in the fall to be a life line in the dead of winter when little else is available.  Also the denseness of some of the native fruit-bearing bushes can be a welcome break from the wind and a place to safely hide from predators. And fruiting bushes provide both height variety as well as color in winter to your yard.

But not all fruiting bushes are native to every location around the country, and not all fruit is edible by most of the birds. Wondering which bushes are best for where you live?  Check out this link provided by Cornell Lab of Ornithology to find out which bushes you should be looking to add to your native plant gardens this year.