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Gardening for Birds

The design of your landscape and the way you garden can bring more birds to your yard year round. In the summer they will help control insects and in the winter they will enliven an otherwise grim scene.

Bird Habitats

Birds need cover, nesting sites, water, and food if they are going to call your yard home. The most active bird habitat consists of “edges,” where different habitats meet. These areas include a mix of foods and shelters to accommodate a wider range of bird species. Fortunately, your yard probably includes just such edges, where trees and shrubs open onto lawn areas. It won’t take much to increase its attraction to birds.

The easiest way to provide cover and nesting sites is by planting a diverse selection of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs. Where space allows, plant in masses rather than dotting specimens around the yard. Include shade trees, small flowering trees, shrubs and ground covers in order to create a variety of vertical habitats. Select plants which flower and fruit at different times of the year so there is always something for the birds and you. You don’t have to give up your flower garden, either. Many favorite flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies, and when they go to seed they become food for birds.

Designing a Landscape for Birds

Designing a landscape that attracts birds is not much different from designing a beautiful landscape for your family and guests. A few changes should be made in the way the landscape is maintained:

1.  Birds need water for drinking and bathing throughout the year. If your yard doesn’t have a small pond, stream, or fountain that can be kept free of ice, then a shallow birdbath can be provided. This can be simple and homemade or formal, to suit your design.

2.  Some birds, such as sparrows and juncos, prefer to scratch around in leaf litter for seeds, and they will appreciate areas left unraked. These can be under shrubs and at the backs of borders.

3.  When pruning trees and shrubs, especially in the spring, care must be taken not to disturb nests. Become aware of where birds are nesting and delay pruning those plants.

4.  Remember many birds eat earthworms and insects. Restrict your use of pesticides. This will make your yard a better habitat for your family and pets, as well as for the birds.

Gardening for the birds is a fun way to work with nature, beautify your yard, and learn about wildlife at the same time. With some good books, a pair of binoculars, and a field guide to local birds, you’ll learn all about those strangers hiding in your bushes. Visit the Bird Gardens at the Zoo for more ideas!

Source: The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens

Plants for Birds


  • Ash Fraxinus
  • Beech Fagus
  • Birch Betula
  • Cherry Prunus 
  • Crabapple Malus   
  • Dogwood Cornus   
  • Hackberry Celtis  
  • Hawthorn Crataegus  
  • Hemlock Tsuga   
  • Hickory Carya
  • Maple Acer
  • Oak Quercus
  • Olive Eleagnus
  • Pine Pinus
  • Sassafras Sassafras
  • Serviceberry Amelanchier
  • Spruce Picea
  • Sumac Rhus
  • Sweetgum Liquidambar 
  • Tupelo Nyssa


  • Arborvitae Thuja
  • Bayberry Myrica
  • Beautyberry Callicarpus   
  • Brambles Rubus
  • Buckthorn Rhamnus
  • Chokeberry Aronia
  • Coralberry Symphoricarpus
  • Cotoneaster Cotoneaster
  • Dogwood Cornus
  • Elderberry Sambucus  
  • Euonymus Euonymus
  • Firethorn Pyracantha 
  • Honeysuckle Lonicera 
  • Juniper Juniperus  
  • Rose Rose 
  • Spicebush Lindera
  • Viburnum Viburnum


  • Bittersweet  
  • CelastrisBoston Ivy Parthenocissus
  • Grape Vitis
  • Porcelainberry Ampelopsis

Perennial Flowers

  • Aster Aster
  • Bellflower Campanula
  • Black-eyed Susan Rudbeckia
  • Blanket-flower Gaillardia
  • Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum 
  • Columbine Aquilegia
  • Coneflower Echinacea
  • Forget-me-not Myosotis
  • Pinks Sweet Wm. Dianthus
  • Russian Globethistle Echinops
  • Sunflower Helianthus
  • Tickseed Coreopsis

Annual Flowers

  • Bachelor’s Buttons Centaurea                 
  • California Poppy Eschscholzia
  • Cosmos Cosmos
  • Larkspur Consolida
  • Marigold, single Tagetes 
  • Mexican Sunflower Tithonia
  • Moss Rose Portulaca
  • Petunia Petunia
  • Pot Marigold Calendula
  • Four O’Clock Mirabilis
  • Sunflower Helianthus 
  • Verbena Verbena 
  • Zinnia Zinnia

Shrubs for Hummingbirds

  • Abelia Abelia
  •  Azelea Rhododendron
  •  Beautybush Kolkwitzia
  • Butterflybush Buddleia 
  • Chaste-tree Vitex
  • Coralberry Symphoricarpus
  • Flowering Quince Chaenomeles 
  • Rose of Sharon Hibiscus  
  • Siberian Pea-Shrub Caragana
  • Weigela Weigela

Contact Us

8793 Kenwood Rd.
Cincinnati, OH 45242

(513) 984-8733

(513) 891-9035


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