Plant a Berry Garden for Winter Birds

Foraging birds need a diet of heavy-duty foods full of sugars and fats on a regular basis to thrive over the cold winter months. Planting a winter berry bird buffet of several different types of plants not only keeps them happy and healthy, but as an added benefit, those same plants will help to attract pollinating insects when they flower next spring. Here are options (more below) that produce loads of tasty berries which will have birds flocking to your yard.

Berries are full of sugars, fats, and antioxidants with lots of the calories that birds need to survive freezing winter nights.

Little Goblin® Red Winterberry Holly

About: N. American native dwarf. Abundant berries in deep winter months when food is very scarce. Site a male holly nearby. Zone: 3 – 9

Attracts: Robins, blue jays, eastern bluebirds, red-bellied woodpeckers, grouse, quail.

Northern Bayberry

About: Dense foliage and energy-rich berries (50% fat) are just two reasons to plant this N. American native shrub. Zone: 4 – 6

Attracts: Myrtle warblers, robins, chickadees, cedar waxwings, bluebirds, gray catbirds, woodpeckers.

Oregon Grape Holly

About: Brilliant yellow flowers leave behind fat, tart blue-black berries that last into spring. N. American native. Best best berry set in pairs. Zone: 5 – 9

Attracts: Robins, waxwings, juncos, towhees, sparrows, grouse, pheasants.

Providing a variety of trees, shrubs, and vines with natural food sources and shelter can double the number of bird species that come to your yard in winter.

Sparkler® Arrowwood Viburnum

About: Large, upright N. American native heavy with loads of fatty (26%), blue-black berries in winter. Zone: 4 – 9

Attracts: Robins, bluebirds, thrushes, vireos, kingbirds, juncos, cardinals, warblers.

Alpine Carpet® Juniper

About: N. American native with abundant berries, sheltering dense branches and foliage. This one stays small and compact. Zone: 3 – 6

Attracts: Bluebirds, robins, thrushes, thrashers, warblers,  grosbeaks,  jays, sapsuckers, waxwings, mockingbirds.

Where possible, choose plants that are native to your region because birds, such as this Cape May Warbler, recognize them, and thus spend less energy foraging.

Virginia Creeper

About: Dense cover and berries high in fat (40+%) makes this N. American native a favorite for wintering birds. Zone: 4 – 9

Attracts: Northern flicker, brown thrasher, cedar waxwing, eastern bluebird, Swainson’s thrush, robins, warblers.

Brilliant Red Chokeberry

About: N. American native with bitter fruits that only improve after several freeze thaw cycles in the winter making them a later food source. Zone: 4 – 9

Attracts: Grouse, cedar waxwings, thrushes, northern flickers, and thrashers.

Charming Fantasy™ Snowberry

About: N. American native whose wintertime leafless stems are blanketed by bright berries birds adore. Zone: 3 – 7

Attracts: Towhees, thrushes, robins, grosbeaks, waxwings, pine siskins, chickadees.

TIPS FOR ATTRACTING WINTER BIRDS

  • Best way to bring birds to your yard this winter is to provide for their three major needs: abundant, regular food, clean water, and shelter from winds and cold. Bird-friendly landscaping includes plants like conifers and evergreens as well as those that provide food.
  • Plant a variety of berry-producing shrubs and vines that provide a variety of fruits at different times. You’ll want something with fruits in the late summer, fall, and early winter.
  • Don’t scrape the yard free of fall debris! Birds appreciate organic materials like seedpods, leaf piles, and fruit that fell from trees. Same goes for your post-holiday Christmas tree which makes a fine place to chill.

(This is a myrtle warbler———>)

Need a few more choices? Here you go. Just click the link to read about each of these plants that are for the birds. If you live in a specific area not covered or you need to solve a specific landscaping problem please do leave a comment below. We would love to help!

And, we’d love to what you do to attract birds to your yard in winter. Please share tips and tricks below!

Massachusetts Kinnikinnick (Zone: 2 – 6)

Tina Sargent Crabapple (Zone: 4 – 8)

Compact Inkberry Holly (Zone: 4 – 9)

Kelsey’s Dwarf Red-Osier Dogwood (Zone: 2 – 8)

Image Credits: Many thanks to the following for sharing their spectacular work with us.

Cape May Warbler: G. Dewaghe

Myrtle Warbler: Bill Hubick 

Blue bird (lead): Iurii_Au

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