Birds in Your Garden


What attracts birds to your garden?  There are several factors that will make a garden attractive to birds.  These factors are the availability of shelter, food and water.  If you want to attract birds to your garden, it is best to cater to all of these factors the best you can.



For birds there are several ways to provide shelter, and different birds will have different needs for their shelter and nesting.  When you are developing your garden plan it is important to look at the plants that will give the most to the birds and still fit with what you will enjoy as well. 

Look at height and flowering time so that you get a variety of attractions. 

Some of the options for plants for nesting include:


Trees                            Shrubs                          Hedges

Birch                            Viburnums                    Spirea (large leaf)

Hackberry                    White Cedar               Winterberry

Hawthorns                    Dogwoods                   Cotoneaster

Red Maple                   Elder                            Alpine Currant

Sugar Maple                 Sorbaria                      Cedar

Oaks                            Serviceberry

Pine                              Sandcherry

Spruce                         Lilac





When you are planting your bird friendly gardens you should ensure safety and attraction by:

            Plant plants in groupings so that the plants are tighter, giving birds a better level of safety and protection.  Generally they look best if you plant them in odd numbers, 3’s and 5’s, etc.

            Vary the height of the plantings that you have.  Different birds will nest in different types of trees and shrubs and of different heights, so include various heights in your design to allow for a wide variety of birds to live there.

            Maintain control over predators as best as possible.  This would include keeping indoor pets indoors, and discouraging other’s pets from staying around your bird feeders, and their habitat.  There are several repellents that can be used that will help in doing this, as well as discouraging them with cold water from a hose when you can.

            Ensure that the area you plan for your birds is friendly for your birds, such as not having a place for predators to hide near their feeding stations, and that windows have a reflective strip of some sort to prevent window kills.



An obvious part of your bird garden is food for the birds.  This would not only include bird feeders and suet feeders, but also plants that will give the best results for the birds needs as well.

When planting for feeding birds there are several plant varieties that work well.  They are:



Birch (Seeds)                          Common Elder (Fruit)  Elm (Seeds)

Yellow bellied Sapsucker            Eastern Kingbird                       Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Chickadee                                Eastern Phoebe             Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Sparrow                                   Swainson’s Thrush                  Yellow-rumped Warbler

Common Redpoll                        American Robin                       Purple Finch

Pine Siskin                                Cowbird                                  American Goldfinch


Hackberry (Fruit)              Hawthorn (Fruit)                   Red Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flower)

American Robin               Cedar Waxwing                      Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Cedar Waxwing                      Pine Grosbeak                                 Red-breasted Nuthatch

Evening Grosbeak                     American Robin                       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Eastern Phoebe                                                                        Pine Grosbeak

American Crow                                                               Evening Grosbeak

Eastern Bluebird                      

Northern Cardinal                      


Pines (Seeds)                          Serviceberry (Fruit)              Sugar Maple (Seeds, Buds & Flowers)

Mourning Doves                          American Crow                       Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

Northern Flicker              Chickadee                               Red-breasted Nuthatch

Chickadee                                American Robin                       Rose-breasted Grosbeak

Red-breasted Nuthatch            Eastern Bluebird                       Pine Grosbeak

White-breasted Nuthatch            Brown Thrasher                       Evening Grosbeak

Dark-eyed Junco               Scarlet Tanager

House Finch                             Northern Cardinal

White-winged Crossbill            Rose-breasted Grosbeak         Oak (Acorns)

Pine Siskin                                Baltimore Oriole                       Blue Jay

American Goldfinch                                                                      White-breasted Nuthatch

Evening Grosbeak                                                                     Common Grackle



Serviceberry (Fruit)              Dogwood (fruit)                      Viburnums (fruit)

-See Tree Section Above            Eastern Kingbird                       Evening Grosbeak

            Red-eyed Vireo                        Cedar Waxwing

                                                Warbling Vireo                         Northern Cardinal

                                                Eastern Bluebird                       American Robin

                                                Hermit Thrush             Hermit Thrush 

                                                Wood Thrush

                                                American Robin

                                                Cedar Waxwing

                                                Northern Cardinal

                                                Evening Grosbeak

                                                Pine Grosbeak


Other plants that are excellent for birds would include


Fruit                                        Seeds                                      Nectar

Flowering Raspberry                    Goldenrod                               Monarda

Staghorn Sumac              Evening Primrose                       Butterfly Weed

Bittersweet                               Panicum                                 Butterfly Bush

Virginia Creeper                        Sunflower                              Weigela

Grape                                       Wild strawberry                    Phlox

Strawberry                               Shasta Daisy                            Impatiens

Blackberry                               Rudbeckia                                Petunias                      

Gooseberry                              Aster                                        Calendula

Saskatoon Berry                Miscanthus                               Portulaca

Snowberry                               Reed Grass                           Honeysuckle

Firethorn                                  Coreopsis                                Marigolds

Oregon Grape Holly                Columbines                              Columbines

Currant                                                                         Agastach

Blueberry                                                                                 Aquilegia

Cotoneaster                                                                              Digitalis

Elder                                                                                        Salvia

Juniper                                                                                     Verbascum



The least provided, and the most needed, water is the best un-kept secret about bird gardening.  Most people know that water is excellent for attracting birds, yet it often goes undone, especially in the winter.

There are several ways to incorporate water into your garden. 


Ponds.  By building a pond, be it large or small, you allow for birds to have a haven to wash in and drink from, and it approximates nature and makes them feel at home.  With the running water of a waterfall, or an ornament, birds can tell from a long distance that there is water there for them and they will come and enjoy.  Be sure to allow for a place for them to stand and wash in.  Put various levels, and rocks for them to access the water with, and ideally, a very shallow part somewhere for them as well.  A pond can be kept open and useable


throughout most of the winter through the use of air pumps; heaters and mag drive water pumps.  Birds can continue to utilize the pond as a water source up to the coldest days of the year. 


Birdbaths.  The most used source of water for birds, birdbaths have become less popular with the west nile virus.  It is important if you are going to keep a birdbath to empty and refill it daily.  This is a good practice regardless of the west nile virus because you should keep the water fresh for the birds at all times.  In the winter it is tricky to maintain a water source, but with the use of a birdbath heater it is easier than before.  The trick is to never neglect the birdbath and continue to maintain the birds’ habitat for them.