We went to the experts for their favorite selection of plants that attract birds in winter. Here are a few ideas you can consider for your own landscape to draw our feathered friends to your yard!
Ryan and John both suggest chokeberry. Older varieties were often large and unruly, but the newer cultivars are smaller and tame. Ground Hug, Low Scape Mound and Low Scape Hedger are three varieties that fit well in the suburban landscape. They are native cultivars and birds love the berries over the winter. Depending on the chokeberry variety you select, the berries will be red or black. If you need more convincing that this plant is a winner, they also deliver flowers that attractive native pollinators and they give your landscape a fabulous pop of fall color. If you’re a bird watcher, chokeberry is a must have in your winter landscape. Watch for cedar waxwings, chickadees and cardinals to visit your shrubs.
Steve loves to use crabapples trees to attract birds. Crabapples once had a bad reputation because they would drop their fruit and often get fungal diseases. The newer varieties on the market hold their fruit through the winter and are more disease resistant than ever. Cedar waxwings and robins are common visitors to the trees and they rely on them for food as they migrate back in the spring. Best of all, the flowers put on a show every spring and are an important food source for pollinators in the spring.
Left undisturbed in the garden, the seedheads of various perennials and ornamental grasses provide sustenance for many birds in winter. Wendy likes to leave specific perennials up in the garden over winter to attract birds. Native grasses like little bluestem and native coneflowers and rudbeckias are favorites for seed-collecting birds. Finches, juncos, grosbeaks, and cardinals all enjoy visiting these plants over winter.
Katie Jean takes the novel approach of repurposing annuals left in the garden to help attract birds in winter. Sunflowers, amaranth, tithonia & zinnia are some favorites of the birds. You can either leave them up in your garden beds or gather the stems into a bouquet and attach it to a tree or post in your garden. Clever! These types of seeds are a particular favorite of finches, chickadees and juncos.
To attract a wide variety of birds, we recommend having multiple food sources available to entice whomever might be wintering nearby. A source of water and a nearby evergreen for protection will make your yard the perfect hangout for your feathered friends! And don’t be discouraged if you don’t have immediate sightings. It might take a little time for the birds to find your new plants, but keep an eye out and soon you will see them gathering in the haven you provided!
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