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Plants That Attract Songbirds

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Songbirds are attracted to the garden by plants that provide food–seeds, fruit, and nectar. Fruit-bearing shrubs attract songbirds. Seed and nectar-bearing flowers attract songbirds.

Drifts of flowers are attractive to almost all birds because they are home to insects and spiders as well as nectar and seed. Shrubs, hedgerows, and trees are attractive to birds for their flowers, fruit, and shelter. Grasses and vines are also beneficial because they provide seed and nesting materials.

To provide a natural haven for birds, choose from shrubs and flowers that attract birds. Be sure to choose plants that will grow in your region or growing zone.

Black chokebery, Aronia melanocarpa
Black chokebery, Aronia melanocarpa

Shrubs That Attract Songbirds

Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia) and Black Chokeberry (A. melanocarpa). Aronias hold their fruit well into winter and 13 kinds of birds are known to eat it, including meadowlark and brown thrasher. Zones 5-9.

Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis). Shadbush bears little red fruits eaten by 40 kinds of birds including flicker, oriole, cedar waxwing, hermit thrush, and robin. Zones 5-9.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). The berries are eaten by 17 kinds of birds including kingbird, red-eyed vireo, catbird, and every. Birds flying south eat the fruit. Zones 4-9.

False bittersweet (Celastrus scandens). Zones 3-8.

Dogwood species (Cornus). 86 kinds of birds are known to eat the fruit of various species of dogwood, especially Flowering Dogwood (C. florida) with red berries, Alternate-leaved Dogwood (C. alternifolia) berries blue with red stems, Silky Dogwood (C. amomum) fruit pale blue, Panicled Dogwood (C. paniculata) fruit white with red stems, Red Osiere (C. stolonifera) berries dull white. Zones 4-9.

Winterberry, a north American native holly,  Ilex verticillata
Winterberry, a north American native holly, Ilex verticillata

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) and Winterberry (I. verticillata). 48 kinds of birds are known to eat the berries of these and other hollies. Zones 5-9.

Bayberry (Myrica caroliniensis). Berries are eaten by 75 kinds of birds including bobwhite, myrtle warbler, phoebe, chickadee, chewink, tree swallow, downy woodpecker, and flicker. Zones 3-6.

American Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana). 14 kinds of birds eat the fruit of this small tree including cedar waxwing, evening grosbeak, and pine grosbeak. Zones 3-8.

Black Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis). Berries are eaten by 106 kinds of birds. Zones 4-9.

Viburnum species. 28 kinds of birds eat the fruits of the varies viburnums. Zones 3-9.

Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea
Purple Coneflowers, Echinacea purpurea

Flowers That Attract Songbirds

Common NameBotanical NameZones
AsterAster spp.4-8
Beautyberry, AmericanCallicarpa americana7-10
Bittersweet, AmericanCelastrus scandens3-9
Black-eyed SusanRudbeckia spp.3-10
California poppyEschscholzia californicaAnnual
Coneflower, purpleEchinacea purpurea3-9
CoreopsisCoreopsis spp.4-9
CosmosCosmos spp.Annual
Zinnias in bloom
Common NameBotanical NameZones
GoldenrodSolidago hybrids4-8
HoneysuckleLonicera spp.3-9
MarigoldTagetes spp.Annual
Scabiosa; pincushion flowerScabiosa caucasia3-7
Staghorn sumacRhus typhina3-8
SunflowerHelianthus annus2-11
Trumpet creeperCampsis radicans4-9
ZinniaZinnia spp.Annual

Also of interest:

20 Flowers That Attract Hummingbirds

50 Flowers That Attract Butterflies

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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