Best Trees and Plants to Attract Birds

There’s something so joyful about watching curious birds flutter around your yard. As they nuzzle the flowers in your garden, fly around trees to taste their fruit or perch on a branch to sing a tune, you get to admire these lovely creatures from afar.

Bird lovers know that hanging a bird feeder or setting up a birdbath are great ways to bring these feathered friends to your yard. But did you know that plants and trees can also do the trick?

Below, read about how flowers, trees, and shrubs can attract birds.

How to attract birds to your yard

The secret to luring birds to your yard is planting trees, flowers or shrubs that provide a food source or shelter.

Think about it: the local birds and plants in your area have been around for centuries. That means birds have grown to rely on the food, shelter and familiarity that regional plants and trees provide.

Best trees for birds

As mentioned, the best trees for birds are ones that are native to your area. Some other important factors are the tree’s fruit, what type of insects the tree attracts and the amount of shelter the tree provides for nesting and safety. Here are a few bird-friendly trees for a variety of planting zones:

  •  Zones 2-7: Common chokecherry, eastern red cedar, paper birch, blue spruce
  •  Zones 3-8: Black cherry, crabapple, winterberry holly, eastern white pine
  •  Zones 4-8: Red mulberry, American beech, serviceberry, white oak
  •  Zones 5-9: Flowering dogwood, hawthorn, American holly, firethorn
  •  Zones 7-10: Magnolia, crepe myrtle

Are birds good for trees?

Why yes, they are! The relationship between birds and trees isn’t just a one-way street.

How do birds help trees?

When insects like caterpillars, beetles or aphids invade our trees, birds can help keep them at bay. Many birds eat the tree pests we want to get rid of.

Birds also help trees with pollination, i.e. transporting pollen from one plant to another. Pollination is essential to some trees to sprout new fruit 

Plants that attract birds

Just like with trees, birds will seek out plants on their hunt for food. Try out these flowers to invite birds to your garden:

  • Zones 2-11: Marigold, yarrow
  • Zones 3-8: Purple coneflower, zinnia, aster, bee balm
  • Zones 4-8: Salvia, daylily, rhododendron
  • Zones 5-8: Daisy, violets
  • Zones 9-11: Petunia, hibiscus

Flowers that attract hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are drawn to brightly colored flowers with lots of nectar. A few flowers that fit the bill are bee balm, columbine, daylily, petunia and salvia.

Best shrubs for birds

Last but not least, let’s talk shrubs! Here are few shrubs birds love, broken down by planting zone:

  • Zones 2-7: Nannyberry, highbush cranberry
  • Zones 3-8: Elderberry, raspberry bush
  • Zones 4-8: Gray dogwood, spice bush, inkberry, barberry
  • Zones 5-8: Sumac bush, flowering quince
  • Zones 6-9: Juniper
  • Zones 7-11: American beautyberry

Attract more birds with these steps to creating a pollinator garden.

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