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best trees and shrubs for birds | The Old Farmer's Almanac

Which Trees and Shrubs Attract Birds?

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Cardinal on holly bush.

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Trees that provide food and a home for birds to nest

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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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