Many of us delight in watching birds flit around the yard; their high energy and cheerful song make the garden feel so alive! Summer is a feast for birds and the gardeners who enjoy watching them, but when the abundant food and warmth have passed, birds that stay for winter rely on whatever is left hanging around in the garden. Now is the time to assess our fall and winter landscapes and ensure that there is plenty of food and suitable habitat for our winged friends.
Great plants for the beloved birds:
Viburnum – Versatile, beautiful viburnums are an excellent wildlife and landscape plant alike. Arrowwood viburnum boasts spring flowers beloved by pollinators, glossy green foliage, and charming blue fruit that birds love. Planting two of these beauties ensures best fruit set.
Aronia – Aronia, or chokeberry, is a heavy hitter in the landscape with early flowers, clean green foliage that develops nice fall color, and a wide range of habits. Many aronia berries ripen late in the summer and can help birds store energy for the winter.
Winterberry – These plants set abundant bright red fruit late in the season that persists well into winter. When the elements have had their way and the fruit begins to soften, hungry birds feast upon it. Plant some near a window so you can enjoy watching the birds snack!
Grasses and perennials – Seeds are a great winter source of fats and oils for birds, and it’s easy to provide them in your landscape. Don’t cut back your flowers, but let the seed heads stand for both winter interest and winter food. Grasses like bluestem, switch grass, and indian grass are excellent choices as well, and provide forage for birds and vertical interest for us all winter long.
Evergreens – A bird buffet is even more effective if there is suitable habitat nearby. Who doesn’t enjoy nestling in after a nice meal? Evergreens with dense growth like spruce, yews, and junipers provide critical protection during frigid temperatures and many are also a good food source.