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
- 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.
- 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.