The Plant Native

What are the best native plants for birds?

If we’re being honest…every native plant is great for bird populations, because native plants offer the best food and habitats for wildlife (especially compared to lawns or non-native plants.)

But some native plants are simply bird magnets. This article sings the praises of some of these bird heroes. Plant some of these new favorites and be sure to have binoculars and a zoom lens ready.

An Eastern Bluebird chows down on some Blackhawk Viburnum

Who else wants to have a yard filled with iconic songbirds and small birds, like cardinals, Baltimore orioles, wrens, and finches? These tiny marvels make having your morning coffee or sitting in your backyard just a little more magical.

Attracting birds to your yard means more than just installing a bird feeder. To truly invite birds, you’ve got to invite bird families and bird-friendly plants. And nothing beats a native plant when it comes to both things. In this article, we’ll cover some native plants that are bird favorites.

Cardinal Flower offers 360 degrees of hummingbird nectar

Looking to attract hummingbirds?

Read our article devoted to hummingbird gardens. Hummingbirds have such specific needs and foods that can be quite different from other birds.

Native plants made for birds

These native flowers, shrubs, and trees are known for their skill at attracting and supporting bird populations:

  1. American Beautyberry
  2. Coral Honeysuckle
  3. Coneflowers
  4. Dogwoods
  5. Hackberry Tree
  6. Highbush Blueberry
  7. Serviceberry
  8. Winterberry

Best native plants for birds

Listed in alphabetical order (follow links for more plant information.)

American Beautyberries are worth planting alone for their incredible color

American Beautyberry

Pinky promise: this is a real, native plant. American Beautyberries used to be one of the most common shrubs in the South! Let’s bring them back again. Beautyberries drop their leaves in the fall/winter but their electric purple berries stay in place. While they are not edible for humans, they are bird faves.

The Coral Honeysuckle vine = hummingbirds + songbirds

Coral Honeysuckle

This native vine attracts hummingbirds to its flowers and songbirds to its red berries in the fall. It’s a lovely, easy-to-grow native vine that can quickly cover a fence, trellis, or wall in a few years.

Finches LOVE to snack on coneflower seed heads

Coneflower

Planting coneflowers and keeping their stalks through fall and winter almost guarantees a visit from bright yellow finches. Plant these flowers once and watch them come back year after year (they are perennials.) They are a gardening no-brainer. Explore the native varieties to find your fave.

Gray Dogwoods make white berries with festive red stems

Dogwoods

Many native dogwoods produce berries in the summer and fall and fill their branches with birds. Don’t forget their gorgeous springtime flowers, too! No matter your space or landscape, there is a native dogwood worth planting.

Birds you don't normally see eating fruit—like woodpeckers—enjoy Hackberries

Hackberry Tree

It’s not a very inviting name, but WOW, is this tree a bird magnet! Tiny fruit cover Hackberry trees in the summer and stay through the fall (unless the birds eat it all.) It’s also a host plant for lots of butterflies. The fall foilage is a spectacular bright highlighter yellow, too. 

Highbush Blueberries are native shrubs!

Highbush Blueberry

No need for introduction here: the very same fruit we love is loved by birds, too. Plant a few Highbush Blueberries to enjoy wildlife and a beautiful, fiery foliage show in the fall.

Serviceberry fruit are edible to birds AND humans

Serviceberry

Many different native species of serviceberry trees are gorgeous for landscaping and wildlife viewing. Also—serviceberry fruit is edible to humans, too! That is, if you can get to the berries before the birds do! This is a gorgeous four-season small tree that’s perfect for front yards or other high-profile places.

Winterberries are bird faves!

Winterberry

48 different species of birds chow down on Winterberry fruit in the winter months. Because this native shrub loses its leaves in the winter, its berry-laden limbs put on a show. A must for landscaping. (Sadly, not edible for humans.)

And that’s not all! Here are a few other bird-favorites to consider as you fill your landscape with native plants:

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American Crabapple

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Black-Eyed Susan

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Blazing Star

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Ninebark

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Rattlesnake Master

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Sweetbay Magnolia

We hope you are inspired to plant a few of these native plants and welcome birds to your landscape. Planting native is important for so many reasons: it saves time and money, it makes gardening easier, and it helps iconic wildlife thrive. Whether you’re looking to help butterflies, hummingbirds, or songbirds, planting native is always the best choice. Happy planting!

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