For the Birds

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Cedar Waxwing enjoying winterberry and juniper berries (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

No matter the animal, I love to feed them. Just look at my chubby horses, plump kitties and rubenesque dogs. And there’s no exception when it comes to my avian friends, either.  Although there are mixed messages about feeding during the summer months, I never miss a day year-round. But along with seeds, our native birds also need protein and fat to thrive. By planting berry producing trees and shrubs, we can provide additional sustenance for our feathered friends through the long winter months. I consulted the experts in my library, Stephen Kress (The Audubon Society Guide to Attracting Birds) and Douglas Tallamy (Bringing Nature Home), to offer some of their recommended plantings as well as a few of my own favorites.

The indigo fruit of native dogwood in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

The indigo fruit of native dogwood (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Stephen recommends: Eastern Redcedar (Juniperus virginiana) zone 2 hardy, blue fruit from September lasts into winter, Black Cherry (Prunus serotina) can be messy, burgundy fruits in summer, also zone 2 hardy, Flowering Crabapples (Malus spp.) zone 4 hardy, varied gold and red fruit late summer and some hold into winter, Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) zone 5 hardy, crimson fruits last from August through November, Hawthorn (Crataegus spp.) zone 5 hardy, scarlet fruits in fall often last into winter, Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) zone 3 hardy, purple fruit earlier summer, usually consumed before winter, Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinum corymbosum), zone 4 hardy, berries are borne in summer and quickly eaten, Red-Osier Dogwood (Cornus stolonifera), zone 2 hardy, white fruits in July are gone by October, American Elder (Sambucus canadensis) zone 4 hardy, purple fruit ripens and lasts from July through August, Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), zone 5 hardy, red fruit persists into the winter, American Mountain Ash (Sorbus amaericana), zone 2 hardy, crimson fruit ripens late August and holds into winter, Red Mulberry (Morus rubra), zone 6 hardy, messy red fruit consumed as it ripens from June through August, Inkberry (Ilex glabra), zone 4 hardy, black fruit in fall holds through winter, Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina), zone 4 hardy, cherry red clusters in fall can last into winter, and Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia), zone 4 hardy, this deciduous vine produces blue berries from August ’til frost.


Red Choke Berry's fall foliage in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Red Choke Berry’s fall foliage (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Doug recommends: In addition to many of Stephen’s selections, American Plum (Prunus americana), zone 3 hardy, yellow to red fruits in July, usually consumed before fall, Choke Cherry (Prunus virginiana), zone 2 hardy, black fruit in August can hold ’til late fall, Pin Cherry (Prunus pensylvanica), zone 3 hardy, red fruit late summer usually eaten promptly, and any native shrub from the genus Vaccinium (blueberries, cranberries, dilberries and deerberries).


Colorful berries of Callicarpa Americana in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Colorful berries of Callicarpa Americana (photo by: Kathy Diemer)

Kathy recommends:  American Cranberry (Viburnum trilobum), zone 3 hardy, brilliant red fruit late summer, some holds until early winter, Silky Dogwood (Cornus amomum), zone 4 hardy, indigo blue fruit that is gobbled the moment it ripens in summer, Tea Viburnum (Viburnum setigerum), zone 5 hardy, the most abundant scarlet clusters of fruit late summer that hold until the leaves drop in autumn, American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana), zone 6 hardy (*survives in my zone 5 garden), striking violet-purple clusters of fruit in summer, always consumed by fall, and Red Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia ‘Brilliantissima’), zone 4 hardy, compact wetland loving shrub produces brilliant (hence the name) red fruit in summer, some lingering into late winter.

Tea Viburnum's berries in A Garden For All by Kathy Diemer

Tea Viburnum’s berries (photo credit: Kathy Diemer)

Many of the recommended shrubs and trees have other attributes, such as exquisite flowers or dazzling autumn foliage. So, my friends, you have an extensive list to choose from, and now is a great time to do some research and plan new introductions for your spring garden. The birds will love you for it ♥


  1. Wow! What a beautiful bird! I guess I should plant some berry types, as long as the horses won’t eat them 1st!

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