Flittering, twittering, and singing—birds bring so much life to a garden. Apart from their beauty and pleasant songs, they also add to the biodiversity of our landscapes by spreading seeds and eating insect pests. How can we encourage birds to not only visit our yards but to nest there? Here’s a hint: it goes beyond hanging up a bird feeder. You must provide sustenance and shelter for birds to truly thrive in your garden. Here are some tips to attract them and make them want to stay.
While a large component of many birds’ diets is protein-packed insects, additional food sources are invaluable in the colder months. Certain Southeast native perennials and shrubs, such as American beautyberry (Callicarpa americana, Zones 5–9) and pokeweed (Phytolacca americana, Zones 4–9), offer delectable berries for birds after the blooms have faded. Beautyberry is a favorite among warblers, while cardinals and eastern bluebirds flock to pokeweed.
Other natives, such as purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3-9) and false sunflower (Heliopsis helianthoides, Zones 4–9), entice birds with edible seeds. Larger birds will swoop in after the seeds fall to the ground, but tiny goldfinches may decide to go for a ride on the bobbing flower stalks to get their meal right from the source. Not to be outdone, native grasses supply seeds as well as shelter and nesting material. Waiting until early spring to cut back these perennials will allow birds to forage in the late fall and winter.
Here’s a list of other native shrubs and perennials that produce seeds or berries that birds love to eat:
Let’s be honest—the joy of gardening for birds lies in seeing them, and many of us relish the interactivity of refilling feeders andRead more on finegardening.com