Trees that provide food and a home for birds to nest
April 11, 2022
Which trees and shrubs attract birds best? Consult 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 for their nests!
Some of our favorite trees and shrubs from the chart below include the following:
Dogwoods are an excellent choice for birds. The ornamental flowering tree offers berries in the fall as well as nesting sites, attracting bluebirds, cardinals, catbirds, grosbeaks, robins, and thrushes. The red osier dogwood and gray dogwood are hardy deciduous shrubs that offer fruit with high fat content, which provides important food for migrating songbirds in the fall. They also act as nest sites and cover for the same birds, as well as vireos, kingbirds, juncos, warblers, and grouse.
Oaks are another group of trees that attract many birds. We especially recommend the White Oak, a large tree which tends to produce an abundance of acorns. This tree attracts woodpeckers, jays, grouse, and wood ducks, in addition to providing nesting and cover for many birds.
The crabapple is one of our favorite medium-size trees, providing spring blossoms for insects, followed by fruit and seeds for birds. Choose a tree with smaller fruits which are easier for birds to swallow. The crabapple attracts robins, bluebirds, thrushes, cardinals, waxwings, finches, and many other birds. It also provides nest sites and cover.
Eastern red cedar is a tall, cone-shaped tree that produces fleshy, berry-like cones on the female trees. These are highly attractive to waxwings and other birds, and also provide nest sites and cover.
Spruces are very tall evergreen trees with seed-bearing cones that attract warblers in the spring as the birds search for insects. Crossbills and seed-eaters are attracted to spruces in fall and winter, when they also provide 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 others.
Holly is a hardy deciduous shrub with red berries that are highly valued by winter birds. Only the female plants have berries; consider planting several females and one male holly to attract robins, bluebirds, waxwings, and others.
Readers have suggested several other trees and shrubs which birds find attractive, including: serviceberries, mulberries, northern bayberry, and nannyberry.
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 because they’ll thrive where you live and will also provide food for native insects and birds. In areas with non-native trees, insects decline, then birds decline, resulting in entire ecosystem under strain.