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Nebline Newsletter Article

Landscape Plants That Attract Birds
This article was submitted by Mary Jane Frogge, Extension Associate, University of Nebraska Cooperative Extension in Lancaster County. The article appeared in the October 1998 NEBLINE newsletter.

Interest in songbirds is growing every year. If you would like to attract songbirds to your property, think carefully about the trees, shrubs and other plants that will make up your landscape. Careful landscape planning and plant selection will help you create an attractive, functional landscape for both people and birds.

Many bird species nest or migrate through Nebraska. These migrant birds may stop for a day or two during their migration if they find your property attractive. Do not forget about the birds that stay through winter. They add interest to the winter landscape, and are more likely to visit your property if you design and plant the landscape with birds in mind. Bird feeders and bird baths will increase your ability to attract a variety of birds year-round.

Landscape plantings can make your property attractive to birds in several ways. Plants provide year-round shelter from predators and harsh weather. Plants provide safe nesting sites and a safe place to rear young. Landscape plants supply food for birds in the form of fruit, seeds and nectar. Many birds also find landscape plantings a convenient place to hunt for insects.

When you select trees, shrubs and vines, consider their landscape value for both you and the birds. Use plants with good summer and fall foliage, attractive flowers, colorful fruit, interesting branching patterns, and attractive bark. You should also consider maintenance. For example, you will want to avoid plants with pest problems that require frequent or regular pesticide sprays to control.

With these tips in mind, here are some excellent landscape trees, shrubs and vines to attract birds in Nebraska. Evergreen trees are important because they provide year-round cover for birds. Some of the better large evergreen trees are white pine, Scotch pine, hemlock, eastern red cedar and spruce. Small- to medium-scale evergreen trees include arborvitae and junipers.

Medium to large deciduous trees known for attracting birds include the service berry, maple, ash, cherry, plum and many varieties of flowering crabapple. There are also many flowering shrubs that will attract birds. Some of the best include dogwood, sumac, viburnum, elderberry and honeysuckle.

Good vines for birds include bittersweet and Virginia creeper.

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