Plant Berry-Producing Plants For Birds

Bird and berries

One way to help birds get through the winter is to provide berry-producing plants. Many species naturally shift their diet from insects to berries as the weather gets colder.

What You Need

  • berry plant(s)
  • compost or planting soil
  • shovel or trowel
  • watering can or hose

What You Do

  1. Research the best berry plants for your area.
    Visit your local nursery or contact your local native plant society to find out which berry-producing plants are best for your area. Here are some species that grow in a wide-variety of growing conditions:

    • Sumac: Its advantages are fiery autumn foliage and showy seed heads. Avoid poison sumac though.
    • Holly: Popular regional varieties are possum haw in the south, winterberry in New England. American holly, yaupon and inkberry grow in places around the country.
    • Saltbush: Ideal for desert habitats because they are so drought tolerant.
    • Hackberry: The tree supplies food for nearly 50 species of birds. It can grow to 60 feet tall.
    • American Beautyberry: This hardy four- to six-foot shrub has purple or magenta fruit.
    • Viburnum: Native viburnums include possumhaw viburnum, highbush cranberry and nannyberry.
    • Mountain Ash: Both American mountain ash and Sitka mountain ash have showy white blossoms in the spring.
    • Hawthorn: This thorny thicket of a plant provide berries and nesting sites.
    • Bayberry: These include northern bayberry, Pacific wax myrtle and southern wax myrtle.

    Bird and berries

  2. Plant male and female plants near each other.
    Ask the staff at the nursery for help to ensure you get a male and female plant to ensure lots of berries.
    Adapted from “Tis the Season for Birds and Berries”(Needs Link) by Doreen Cubie, National Wildlife, December/January 2004.