• Sandi Manna

Berries For Birds

Now that winter is here, food is a bit harder to find for our feathered friends.

If you like birds and would like to attract more birds to your backyard, start with berries! Berries are like a treat for birds.

We have a client in Madison who is an avid birder. He contacted us because he was interested in attracting more birds to his yard.

We started with an Amelanchier, or Serviceberry. These shrubs are great tucked into a woodland border, or as a specimen. They're fairly big, so they're more like a small tree than a shrub.

Dogwood trees are often incorporated in landscapes without anyone realizing they attract birds! Kousa dogwood is just one example. For many of our clients, we have incorporated Kousa dogwood which bear quarter-sized fruit in the fall. These fruits are very attractive to a wide variety of birds.

Viburnum is another shrub that deserves to be in any landscape. Not only are the flowers beautiful, but many species produce colorful berries the birds find irresistible.

Raspberry. Many properties have dense patches of wild raspberries along the wood line. Not only are they a great source of food for birds in the summer, their brambly nature provides refuge from predators. If you don't have any natural occurring raspberries, you can always plant some.

Sambuccus, or Elderberry. This is a great shrub! Not only does it produce berries for the birds, it also has beautiful foliage and has a nice overall shape. Some varieties, like 'Black Lace' has beautiful, deeply cut burgundy foliage which is very attractive.

Bayberry provides fruit for a variety of birds, and it's ovate foliage is pretty in the garden.

Juniper comes in a wide choice of varieties. These hardy shrubs require little maintenance and not only provide food for birds, but shelter as well. Be advised though, junipers produce oils that can mildly irritate your skin.

Holly is another great landscape shrub. Besides being evergreen and providing a little winter interest, they also provide shelter for birds and loads of berries that you can bring in your home during the holidays, there will be plenty left for the birds to feast on.

Winterberry Holly is without a doubt one of my favorites. This shrub is outstanding and goes with any look. Cottage Garden, Woodland Garden, Beachy Garden, you name it this shrub works great. Easy to grow and loaded with berries when fall comes around. Pick your berry color. Red, orange, yellow: this shrub has them all. Not only are the berries great food for birds, but they're stunning when frosted with snow.

Berries have many benefits for birds.

High in calories, which is critical when it's cold outside. They're loaded with antioxidants which are crucial for handling the stress of migration. As I've mentioned, many of these shrubs not only provide food for birds, but they also provide critical shelter from the winter winds and protection from predators, like the neighbor's cat.

Attracting birds to your yard isn't difficult. Try incorporating berries, if you plant them, the birds will come.

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