Bird Gardening Regional Plant List

Use these specific, regional plant recommendations to attract birds in your neck of the woods.

By Kris Wetherbee

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Finches are frequent visitors at backyard seed feeders, but they also eat a few buds in spring, insects in summer, and berries in fall. And many species of birds that typically gorge on insects switch to a diet rich in berries when migrating in fall. Growing a diversity of food-bearing plants will help ensure an all-you-can-eat bird buffet by providing nourishing nuts, seeds, fruits, berries, buds, and nectar (for hummingbirds and orioles) throughout the year. Red mulberry and sassafras are good berry sources in spring and summer, viburnums offer berry sustenance in summer and fall, and berries on hollies and hawthorns ripen in fall and, in some species, last into early spring. And because an organic garden is also home to a variety of insects and caterpillars, there’s always a ready food source for robins, swallows, and other bird species that rely on insects as part or most of their diet. Here’s a guide to the best bird trees, shrubs, groundcovers, and vines by region. Plant a few in your garden this year, and you’ll be rewarded with more birds to watch in the years to come.

Northeast & Mid-Atlantic
Trees: Sugar maple (Acer saccharum); red mulberry (Morus rubra); American beech (Fagus grandifolia); white spruce (Picea glauca)

Shrubs: Cranberrybush viburnum (Viburnum trilobum); spicebush (Lindera benzoin); northern bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica); Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis)

Groundcovers/Vines: American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens); Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia); bunchberry (Cornus canadensis)

Southeast
Trees: American holly (Ilex opaca); American sweetgum (Liquidambar styraciflua); black cherry (Prunus serotina); sassafrass (Sassafras albidum);Virginia pine (Pinus virginiana)

Shrubs: Yaupon holly (Ilex vomitoria), bearberry cotoneaster (Cotoneaster dammeri); dwarf palmetto (Sabal minor); wax myrtle (Myrica cerifera)

Groundcovers/Vines: Trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens); creeping juniper (Juniperus horizontalis); Canby's mountain-lover (Paxistima canbyi)

Midwest & Northwest
Trees: Colorado spruce (Picea pungens); Rocky Mountain maple (Acer glabrum); common hackberry (Celtis occidentalis); downy hawthorn (Crataegus mollis); pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia); paper birch (Betula papyrifera)

Shrubs: Gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa); winterberry (Ilex verticillata); common juniper (Juniperus communis); flowering currant (Ribes sanguineum); smooth sumac (Rhus glabra); black haw (Viburnum prunifolium)

Groundcovers/Vines: Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia); bunchberry (Cornus canadensis); trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens); dwarf bilberry (Vaccinium caespitosum)

Pacific Northwest
Trees: White spruce (Picea glauca); Chinese fringe tree (Chionanthus retusus); American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis); Pacific dogwood (Cornus nuttallii); English holly (Ilex aquifolium); paperbark maple (Acer griseum)

Shrubs: Pacific wax myrtle (Myrica californica); Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium); redtwig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera); western hazelnut (Corylus cornuta); evergreen huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum); Chinese juniper (Juniperus chinensis)

Groundcovers/Vines: Salal (Gaultheria shallon); wintergreen (Gaultheria procumbens); Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia); California wild grape (Vitis californica); trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

Southwest
Trees: Arizona ash (Fraxinus velutina); western redbud (Cercis occidentalis); Pacific willow (Salix lasiandra); Japanese white pine (Pinus parviflora); southern magnolia (M. grandiflora); western red cedar (Thuja plicata); western hemlock (Tsuga heterophylla)

Shrubs: Rocky Mountain juniper (Juniperus scopulorum); skunkbush sumac (Rhus trilobata); scarlet firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea); box honeysuckle (Lonicera nitida)

Groundcovers/Vines: Flannel bush (Fremontodendron californicum); black-eyed Susan vine (Thunbergia alata); lantana (Lantana montevidensis); pine-mat manzanita (Arctostaphylos nevadensis)

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