Plant a Variety of Trees and Bushes for Your Bird Sanctuary

The Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) feeding her young one.

The Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) feeding her young one.

My secret to a successful bird haven is selecting a variety of native tree and bush species in these three categories – deciduous, coniferous and fruit – to attract the most birds and provide resources for them all year round.

Consulting your local plant nursery or your county extension office will help you find the best varieties of native plants for your area. These are my preferred trees and bushes that work well for my region and climate here in the northeast:

  • Sugar Maples
  • Winterberries
  • White Birch
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Sour Pie Cherries
  • Green and Black Ash
  • Wild Roses
  • Witch Hazel
  • Sycamore
  • Tulip Poplar
  • Hickory Nut
  • Beech Nut
  • Oak

I like to use these plants in my landscape as well, because they attract a wide variety of fruit-eating birds like orioles, red-breasted grosbeaks and cedar waxwings, to name a few:

  • fox grapes
  • serviceberries
  • soap berries
  • chokecherries
  • mulberries
  • blueberries
  • blackberries
  • maple leaf viburnums
  • crab apple trees
  • American holly

Coniferous trees and bushes add so much to your landscape, and also provide great shelter year round, as well as pine cone seeds and cozy nesting places for your birds:

  • Firs
  • Cedars
  • Hemlocks
  • White pines
  • Green, Black and Blue Spruces

The different heights and leaf textures of these plants and trees add so many nesting places to a bird haven. They attract all kinds of bugs and beetles that your wild birds just adore. The leaf litter created beneath these bushes and trees is an awesome source that birds can take advantage of in the fall. Their demanding migratory journeys require lots of fuel, and the insects and berries provide loads of the proteins, fatty oils and antioxidants they need.

A number of these plants edged my parent’s property on 2 sides. The other side was host to wild currant bushes and a huge wild blackberry patch. We all enjoyed those areas as much as the birds did! My hands were berry stained most of the summer, but there was still plenty of fruit to feed the birds and our neighbors.

I have always said that birds are like people. That is, they have different personalities and preferences. Some birds like to nest up high, others prefer certain types of plants in which to nest, and still others like to make their homes right on the ground.

It is the same with food. Some birds appreciate fruits, while others enjoy seeds, and still others like bugs and creepy crawlies. And then you have those birds that will eat any or all of these foods, depending upon what’s available. So, choose trees that will grow to a variety of heights, shapes and thicknesses to add diversity to your bird-friendly landscape. Adding fruit trees and bushes, as well as seed-bearing evergreens and trees, gives them the full dining experience. Your bird sanctuary will be the most popular place for miles around!


Connie Smith is the proud owner and manager of Grandma Pearl’s Backporch, LLC, and the expert author of many online articles about easy and unique ways you can create the best bird-friendly habitats to help wild birds survive and thrive. Discover how to create fun and safe backyard habitats for wild birds using their preferred plants and foods, while adding color, fragrance and beauty to your landscape. Find simple how-to projects for making your own unique bird feeders; and learn how easy it is to attract a variety of birds to your yard and gardens. Visit today!

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