Planting for the Birds
Written by: Matthew Siesco, ISA Certified Arborist WI-0959A
One of the many benefits of the home landscape is the diverse wildlife it attracts. Over many conversations with clients, birds are the most popular visitor to their landscapes. With proper planning, it’s possible to create an inviting environment not only for the birds, but for the ecosystem that supports and attracts them.
Just like humans, birds will be drawn to the best food and the nicest house they can find. When planning to plant trees, we can consider which species will attract birds and offer a safe and inviting habitat to nest in.
When considering which trees provide attractive food for the birds, it’s important to consider availability through all 4 seasons of the year. This is especially important in Winter when food sources are scarce. While tree fruit is the obvious attraction to birds, the insects that trees attract also play a major role in their diet, especially when no fruit is available.
Examples of bird-friendly plantings are Serviceberry for Summer fruit, Silky Dogwoods for Autumn/Winter, Crabapples for their over-wintering apples, and Bur Oaks which support insect/arachnid populations and provide edible fruit throughout the year.
If a bird is satisfied with the food source in a landscape, it may decide to nest there as well. Safety and comfort play a role in their likelihood to stay around. Dense evergreens such as Junipers or Spruce make excellent bird habitat that offer protection from predators like hawks plus provide a year-round food source. Birds also love deciduous trees with a dense canopy for protection like Musclewood, Blackhaw Viburnum, or Hawthorn.
Matching plant size to a planting location is key once you’ve found the right tree. Whether you like birdwatching indoors or out, trees should ideally be placed where you can view them without disturbing or scaring birds away. If you have a favorite bird feeder location already, you can consider planting a deciduous tree nearby for the birds to rest and hide between flights to the feeder. Adding a water feature nearby will help fulfill all their basic survival needs and keep them coming back. Some species to consider for a bird rest stop are Swamp white Oak, Ironwood, or Miyabe Maple.
Creating your own wildlife sanctuary is a rewarding experience with the proper planning. Contact your Wachtel Tree Science ISA Certified Arborist to assess your yard to create an ideal plan for attracting birds into your yard year-round.