By Lydia George
So many people love to see and hear birds around their homes and will put out bird feeders filled with seeds to attract more of this wildlife to their yards. While this is a good strategy, there are also many beautiful perennial plants and flowers that you can add to your landscape which will feed the birds every year, they will replenish as a natural resource rather than having to continually buy seeds from the store, and this method of feeding native birds is also less disruptive to their natural feeding habits. You can also put out nesting boxes, shrubs and tall grasses that will act as a natural habitat for bird species to make homes in!
There are many beautiful flowering plants that birds love to eat! Black eyed susans, echinacea, daisies, cornflower, sunflowers, asters, joe pye, zinnias, yarrow, goldenrod and daisies are all great natural food that will make your yard beautiful while attracting native pollinators and song birds to your yard!
There are also many shrubs and trees that can feed birds as well. Evergreens like Holly, Rhododendron, redcedar and hemlock all have berries that birds love to eat. Also trees like sumac, elderberries, dogwood and redbuds are beneficial to birds, insects and humans (for food or medicine), just make sure you are prepared to share the bounty of your harvest.
Vining plants like native honeysuckle varieties and virginia creeper can create great habitat as well as food for many different bird species, including hummingbirds.
For nesting sites, many birds like dense clustering bushes that create protection from predators. Aronia, viburnum, and winter berries are all great shrubs that create this kind of environment while also providing food with their fruiting bodies! Also if you have room in your yard, taller trees like willows, oaks and sycamores have lots of nooks and crannies that are perfect homes for all sorts of different wildlife.
Having native grass varieties can also be great for providing seeds and nesting materials for many birds, Indian rice grass, northern sea oats, switchgrass, prairie dropseed, bluestem grasses and so many more varieties are beautiful ornamental grasses that have these benefits for wildlife.
Not only will these plants beautify your yard, lots of them will provide you with edible food and medicine. Most importantly you will be providing much needed habitat to native song birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals which are exciting to see, and so important to the health of our native ecosystems! This is just a few of the many hundreds of plants that will serve important roles for all sorts of wildlife.