Gardening For The Birds

 

By Amanda Shepard

Birds are some of the most fascinating creatures to watch in the garden. Their chirps are often the first sign that spring has arrived, and nothing is better than sitting back and enjoying the sounds of nature in your yard. There are several ways to create an environment that will attract and help our winged friends! Plant a garden that provides food and shelter for birds to create a beneficial, lively habitat in your own outdoor space.


How To Find The Right Plants For Your Bird Garden

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6 Tips For A Bird-Friendly Garden

  1. Clean WaterProvide a clean source of water for birds. The sight and sounds of moving water in bird baths or water features will attract birds much more effectively than standing water, and helps keep the water clean. Water only needs to be a couple of inches deep for drinking and preening.
  2. Organic PracticesWhen creating your bird habitat, only use organic fertilizers and skip herbicides and pesticides. This is essential for providing safe foods for birds. Instead of trying to prevent bugs in your garden, welcome them as delicious food for your winged friends.
  3. Habitat & ShelterPlant ornamental grasses, shrubs, and small trees to provide shelter for birds. These perennials also provide habitat for insects, which offer another food source for birds -- especially when raising their young. Providing hiding and nesting places for birds protects them, and makes your garden very attractive to visiting wildlife.
  4. Bird Houses & Bird FeedersBird houses are a wonderful way of attracting a nesting pair of birds. Make sure to match the house style and entry hole to the type of bird you wish to attract. Be sure to prevent predators and pests from taking over, for example, by including a baffle on the pole to keep critters out of your birdhouse.
  5. Nesting MaterialLeave plant standing through the fall and winter, or if you cut them down, leave the plant material in place. Seeds provide a food source for birds, and stems provide nesting materials. Plant material also makes good insect habitat, another important food source for birds.
  6. BinocularsSome of the best bird-watching can happen right from the comfort of your window. Enjoy watching and listening to your garden visitors!

Planting Wildflowers For Birds

Wildflowers will provide both nourishment and shelter for birds, as well as provide a gorgeous show for you, both with their beautiful blooms and having the delight of watching the birds outside your window.

  • When planting wildflowers that will attract and feed birds, look for flowers that form large seedheads, such as Sunflowers, Echinacea, and Black Eyed Susan. This enables birds to easily snack on seeds when they ripen without struggling to break seed pods open.
  • Once flowers have finished blooming for the season, you can leave plants standing, or cut everything down and leave the debris on the ground. Leaving plant material over the winter will offer pollinator habitat, and provide material for birds to use in building shelter and nests.
Goldfinch and ZinniaGoldfinch and Zinnia
Zinnias attract birds and a wide range of pollinators to the garden.

Planting Perennials For Birds

You can indulge in a beautiful garden filled with bird-friendly plants! Hardy perennials, including ornamental grasses, shrubs, and flowering plants, all play important roles in creating a bird friendly garden. 

We recommend native plants to provide nectar, nourishing seeds, and delectable fruits for feathered friends. Native plants have evolved in partnership with the wildlife around them over centuries, building relationships that sustain each other in a resilient ecosystem. Native plants will help attract beneficial insects and pollinators, which keep your garden healthy while providing essential protein-rich food sources for birds!

  • A good strategy for planting bird habitat is to create a layered garden.
  • Mix larger, denser plants and trees with smaller varieties to provide birds with shelter and safety. Planting perennials with different heights, densities, and foliage will help to not only provide birds with shelter and nourishment, but will attract a wider range of bird types.
  • Try planting shrubs such as Butterfly Bushes, Hydrangea, and Hibiscus with ornamental grasses such as Fountain Grass, Maiden Grass, or Pampas Grass.
  • Layer in flowers such as Aster, Bee Balm, Gaillardia, Sedum, and Yarrow. 
Coreopsis Seedheads with BirdCoreopsis Seedheads with Bird
Perennials, such as Coreopisis, provide shelter for birds during the cold season. Can you spot the goldfinch?

How To Find The Right Plants For Your Bird Garden

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Perennial Plants For Birds

Birds source food from plants that produce vegetation, fruit, and nectar, and from flower heads that go to seed. Birds are also attracted to plants that provide shelter for bugs - another favorite food!



seeds for attracting birds photoseeds for attracting birds photo

Wildflowers For Supporting Pollinators

If you'd like your garden to buzz and hum with birds and pollinators, grow the plants that they're naturally drawn to. Birds eat fruit, nectar, seeds, and insects such as moths and caterpillars. Our Regional Pollinator Wildflower Mixes feature flowers that are known to attract birds and beneficial insects in your area.


  1. Pink Echinacea Magnus, Echinacea purpurea, Coneflower

    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent...

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    Magnus Echinacea Purple Coneflower Magnus Echinacea purpurea Magnus
    As low as $9.98 Sale $8.49
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Magnus' Coneflower has vibrant pink, ray-like flowers that surround deep-orange center cones, attracting plentiful pollinators to the garden throughout the summer. Leaving the spent stems and flowerheads in place to overwinter will also attract birds. Coneflowers are notably tough native plants and 'Magnus' is no exception, withstanding drought, clay, humidity and harsh winter conditions without complaint. Easy to grow, this plant is a great choice for beginner and experienced gardeners alike. (Echinacea purpurea)
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  2. Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm, Rudbeckia in bloom in perennial garden

    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green f...

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    Goldsturm Black Eyed Susan Black Eyed Susan Goldsturm Rudbeckia fulgida Goldsturm
    As low as $9.98 Sale $8.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Goldsturm' Black Eyed Susan brings a burst of showy color to the full-sun garden. Golden yellow, daisy-like petals surround nectar-rich, brown center 'buttons' set atop deep green foliage. Unbothered by most pests, poor soils, drought and humidity, 'Goldsturm' is easygoing and the perfect addition to flower arrangements and pollinator gardens. Deer resistant and long-lasting. (Rudbeckia fulgida)
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  3. Bailey's Red Twig Dogwood, Cornus stolonifera Baileyi, close up of white flowers

    One of the best native shrubs for four-season visual interest, Bailey's Red Twig Dogwood is impressive and hardy, tolerating unpredictable spring weather and wet soil. Deep green lea...

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    Bailey's Red Twig Dogwood Bailey's Red Twig Dogwood Cornus stolonifera Baileyi
    As low as $27.98 Sale $13.99
    Per Plant - 4" Pot
    One of the best native shrubs for four-season visual interest, Bailey's Red Twig Dogwood is impressive and hardy, tolerating unpredictable spring weather and wet soil. Deep green leaves with red stems add attractive contrast to the spring and summer garden, with white flower clusters and pale-blue-green-to-white berries. Autumn brings golden foliage, which falls to reveal bold red stems for its signature winter color.(Cornus)
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  4. Morning Light Maiden Grass, Miscanthus sinensis Morning Light

    'Morning Light' Miscanthus Grass is a versatile ornamental grass loved by birds. This elegant grass has fine arching white-and-green variegated leaves, giving the whole plant a silve...

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    Morning Light Miscanthus Grass Morning Light Maiden Grass Miscanthus sinensis Morning Light
    As low as $18.98 Sale $9.49
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Morning Light' Miscanthus Grass is a versatile ornamental grass loved by birds. This elegant grass has fine arching white-and-green variegated leaves, giving the whole plant a silvery appearance. Wheat-colored flowers appear in late summer to fall, and dry to a creamy white, adding great drama to the fall landscape. This grass is deer resistant and will attract birds to the garden. (Miscanthus sinensis)
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  5. Brilliantissima Red Chokeberry, Aronia arbutifolia Brilliantissima, close up of white flowers

    'Brilliantissima' Red Chokeberry is a tough native shrub with three seasons of colorful interest. Deep green foliage and white flowers give way to vivid red foliage and large berries...

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    Brilliantissima Red Chokeberry Brilliantissima Red Chokeberry Aronia arbutifolia Brilliantissima
    As low as $25.98 Sale $14.29
    Per Plant - 4" Pot
    'Brilliantissima' Red Chokeberry is a tough native shrub with three seasons of colorful interest. Deep green foliage and white flowers give way to vivid red foliage and large berries in autumn. A versatile shrub for rain gardens, erosion control, and wildlife habitat, this compact cultivar earned a Gold Medal from the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society. (Aronia)
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  6. Catmint Walkers Low, Nepeta faassenii

    'Walker's Low' Catmint is known for its easy going nature - it can thrive in a variety of soil and sunlight scenarios, though it does prefer things on the sunny, dry side. Beautiful ...

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    Walker's Low Nepeta Walker's Low Catmint Nepeta faassenii Walker's Low
    As low as $9.98 Sale $8.99
    Per Plant - 3" Pot
    'Walker's Low' Catmint is known for its easy going nature - it can thrive in a variety of soil and sunlight scenarios, though it does prefer things on the sunny, dry side. Beautiful purple flower spikes appear in early summer and continue to bloom and release their sweet fragrance for up to 3 months. Very showy and very low maintenance, 'Walker's Low' is a great choice for planting in swaths, lining walkways, or adding to pollinator gardens. Deer resistant. (Nepeta faassenii)
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  7. White Wild Elderberry, Sambucus canadensis, Wild Elderberry

    This native elderberry is a spreading shrub grows to be about 8-10 feet and boasts creamy-white flowers in mid-summer, giving way to loose clusters of delicious black fruits that are...

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    Wild Elderberry Wild Elderberry Sambucus canadensis
    $28.98 Sale $19.99
    Per Plant - 3.5" Pot
    This native elderberry is a spreading shrub grows to be about 8-10 feet and boasts creamy-white flowers in mid-summer, giving way to loose clusters of delicious black fruits that are high in nutrients and antioxidants. The foliage then turns a deep burgundy in Autumn, completing the wonderfully-changing cycle of this beautiful shrub. (Sambucus canadensis)
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