Shrubs to Attract Birds – Planting for Year-Round Berries and Habitats

Now that we’ve talked about trees to attract birds, and how to attract birds using feeders and birdbaths, I want to get on to some of my very favorite shrubs. From the rich purple berries of Callicarpa to the hanging clusters on Leycesteria, I’ve chosen my top five shrubs to plant for the birds:

Berberis darwinii or Darwin’s Evergreen Barberry

Berberis darwinii photo by scott.zona on Flickr via CC Attribution License Most Barberries are deciduous, but Darwin’s Barberry is the rare evergreen, with shiny deep green leaves that make a great year-round backdrop. [Read more...]

Trees to Attract Birds: New Stars and Old Favorites

Cornus capitata Evergreen DogwoodWe talked earlier this week about how to attract birds using feeders and water. Since we’re all plant geeks here, I’m dying to share some of my favorite trees for the Pacific Northwest to attract birds. Do remember that any tree that has fruit or berries is going to be messy, so you should place them within your garden bed so the fruit doesn’t get all over or make your path slippery.

Cornus capitata or Evergreen Dogwood

Cornus capitata Evergreen Dogwood While all the dogwood species offer amazing fruit for birds, usually in late summer to fall, my current plant crush is on the evergreen dogwood, C. capitata. If you saw it in early summer, covered in creamy-yellow flowers and bracts, you’d think it must be a one-season wonder. “Aha!”, you’d say. “This is why people plant it.” [Read more...]

The Winter-Interest Secret Most Gardeners Forget: or How to Attract Birds

Winter interest is the Holy Grail for us gardeners, and we spend an inordinate amount of time planning out which cool foliage plant or winter bloomer we’ll tuck in. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a sucker for that year-round interest too – but there is another source of excitement during the darker months – birds! During the growing season, much of the birds’ liveliness is obscured by leaves – we hear rustles and chirrups but can’t quite see what they’re up to. Winter’s bare branches and dormant perennials give us a fantastic view of them scratching at the soil for bugs and seeds, and playing in the shrubbery. Female Goldfinch photo by KevinCole on Flickr

So how do we attract birds in the winter?

Bird feeders:

The winter cold makes the birds need more calories, just at the time of year when there’s less food available. You can set a feeder under the eaves, or get a weather dome so the seeds don’t mold in the rain. Try to match your feed to the birds you see in the neighborhood, because bags of mixed seed usually come with filler seed like red millet, oats, milo, or wheat, which nobody really likes (except the raccoons!). Specialty stores have premium mixes with just the good stuff in. [Read more...]