Most homeowners enjoy attracting birds to their garden though out the year but the winter is when the need the most help, and since they spend nearly all of their time and energy seeking food, shelter and water. Planning your yard can become a prime spot for birds.
Think in layers-Birds prefer to seek shelter and food at different heights. A canopy of tall trees, and under-canopy of smaller trees, a shrubs layer and vines or ground cover. This kind of approach mimics nature.The greater mix of vegetation and heights will attract a variety of birds.
From seeds to nuts. Birds are constantly looking for food. Evergreens, pines, spruces, Tsuga (Arborvitae) and junipers are a must in any bird-friendly landscape. The seeds from pine cones are a valuable source of winter for the chickadees, woodpeckers, grosbeaks, and pine siskins. The conifers also act as a great wind break and are great at shedding snow.
Berries – fruit bearing trees and shrubs are a major source of food. Looking for trees that hold on to their fruit through the winter. Some examples of shrubs with berries that go throughout winter are holly, viburnum, chokeberry bushes which generally tolerate shade. Native roses are another great selection. There are many Dogwood varieties to try but one specific is the Red-twig Dogwood.
Flowering crabapple trees are beautiful to gardens but their fruit is also very popular with birds.
I know I always say cut back in the fall on our perennials and grasses but if you chose not to, I will share some varieties that will be bird friendly in the winter months. Leave the native grasses uncut for winter interest and for the birds. Perennials produce seed and provide nutrients for the birds late in the season. Some of the better varieties to leave are coneflowers, Blazing Star Liatris, Sunflowers, Coreopsis also known as Tickseed, and Black eyed Susan.
Water- Having a great source of water is also critical for birds. Don’t put your birdbath away or let it freeze. Change the water daily. Winter is when water is the scarcest.
Small changes make a big impact. When deciding to be bird-friendly you can start small and make minor changes to your landscape.