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Seven Important Plant Groups

To provide habitat for the largest diversity of birds, try to include plants from as many of these plant groups as possible on your property. Choosing plants that produce at different times of year ensures that your backyard will always have something to bring in the birds.


Evergreen trees and shrubs such as pines, spruces, firs, arborvitae, and junipers. Provide excellent shelter and nest sites, as well as food (fruits and seeds).

Grasses and Legumes:

Provide cover for ground-nesting birds (if not mowed during the nesting season) and food (seeds and insects).

Nectar-producing Plants:

Attract hummingbirds (especially flowers with tubular red corollas) and orioles.

Summer-fruiting Plants:

Provide food during the nesting season. Various species of cherry, chokecherry, native honeysuckle, raspberry, serviceberry, blackberry, blueberry, mulberry, and elderberry.

Fall-fruiting Plants:

Important for both migratory birds building up fat reserves before migration and non-migratory birds that need to enter the winter season in good physical condition. Includes dogwoods, mountain ash, cotoneasters, and buffalo-berries.

Winter-persistent Plants:

Fruits remain attached to these plants long after they ripen in the fall, providing a winter food source for residents, as well as for early-returning migrants. Includes crabapple, snowberry, native bittersweet, sumacs, viburnums, American highbush cranberry, eastern wahoo, Virginia creeper, and winterberry (holly).

Nut and Acorn Plants:

Includes oaks, hickories, buckeyes, chestnuts, butternuts, walnuts, and hazels. Provide food and good nesting habitat.

For more detailed descriptions of specific plants, including information about the kinds of birds they attract, see the following pages: