Which Trees and Shrubs Attract Birds?

Trees that provide food and a home for birds to nest

April 15, 2021
Cardinal on Holly

Which trees and shrubs attract birds? See our handy chart which lists which birds like which trees and shrubs—for both food and shelter! From cardinals to robins, you’ll see what your feathered friends find most appealing for feasting and their nests!

Some of our favorite trees and shrubs from the chart below include the following:

  • Dogwoods are excellent choices for birds. The ornamental flowering tree offers berries in the fall as well as nesting sites, attracting bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, grossbeaks, robins, and thrushes. The red-osier dogwood and gray dogwood are hardy deciduous shrubs offer fruit with high fat content provides important food for migrating songbirds in fall, as well as nest sites and cover for the same birds as well as vireos, kingbirds, juncos, warblers, and grouse.
  • The Oak is another tree that attract birds. We especially recommend the White Oak, a large tree which produces acorns every year, unlike other Oaks. This tree attracts woodpeckers, jays, grouse, and wood ducks, as well as providing nesting and cover for many birds.
  • The Crabappleis one of our favorite medium-sized trees, providing spring blossoms for insects and then fruits and seeds for birds. Choose a tree with smaller fruits which are easier for birds to swallow. The Crabapple attract robins, bluebirds, thrushes, cardinals, waxwings, finches, many other birds. It also provides nest sites and cover.
  • Red cedar (Juniperus virginiana) is a tall cone-shaped tree; fleshy berry-like cones are on the female trees which attract waxwings and other birds, and also provide nest sites and cover.
  • Spruces are very tall evergreen trees with seed-bearing cones which attract warblers in the spring (searching for insects) and crossbills and seed-eaters in fall and winter; the tree also provides nesting and cover.
  • Sumac is a wonderful shrub with red fall leaves and clusters of red fruits which attract many birds, including bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, chickadees, robins, woodpeckers and more.
  • Holly is a hardy deciduous shrub with red berries valued by winter birds. Only the female plants have berries; consider several females and one male holly to attract robins, bluebirds, waxwings, and others. 

Click to enlarge below chart (PDF)

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Readers have suggested several other trees and shrubs which birds find attractive, including: Serviceberries, Mulberries, Northern Bayberry, and Nannyberry.

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Most of these trees and shrubs are common across North America but they may not work for every region. We encourage you to plant native shrubs and trees both because they’ll thrive where you live but also because they provide food for native insects and birds. In areas with non-native trees, insects decline and then birds decline and it affects the entire ecosystem.

See more about creating a bird-friendly yard for our feathered friends.

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Reader Comments

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polkberry

mocking birds and cat birds like it. Robins too

gardening for birds

I see you mention ivy in your article. Ivy (Hedera helix) is a terrible invasive in much of the country. It matures once it climbs to a certain height, producing fruit that the birds eat and spread to the woods, where it kills trees. Native plants are always preferred over alien plants. Please remove mention of it from your article.

Gardening for the Birds

This year my husband and I put in the first garden on this property in 20 years. We had a variety of beans, corn, potatoes, onions, garlic, squash, etc. I have always had food out for the birds, but this year I saw an explosion in the wildlife! There young birds would try to land on the corn tops and we could see them sliding down the leaves. When we picked the beans I would find little feathers stuck to the leaves. It makes me really look forward to next year's garden.

Birds - Food and shelter/trees and bushes

I didn't see the "Robin" in your chart of birds and where they like to find food and shelter????

Robin preferences

The Editors's picture

American robins, members of the thrush family, like earthworms, grubs, and other insects, and some snails. They’ll also eat fruit/berries. Fruit from trees, shrubs, and vines such as mulberries, serviceberries, elderberry, flowering dogwood, crabapples, junipers, sumac, holly, cherry, grape, viburnums, spicebush, and others will attract them. They’ll also come to both platform and ground feeders. They typically nest in trees, although depending on the area of the country, they might build nests on the ground, thickets, in the eaves of homes, etc. When foraging, they like to keep near cover, such as a tree or shrub. Hope this helps!

Thank for the info I love

Thank for the info I love these little creatures!

Thank you for any information

Thank you for any information on hummingbirds; want to see more of those beautifol creatures

Try hanging Fuscia plants in

Try hanging Fuscia plants in partially shaded areas around your house. Hummingbirds love them!

The chart would help if it

The chart would help if it were also by state. THANKS!