Planting for Birds

From our breakfast table, we have a good view of two serviceberry trees (Amelanchier x grandiflora) we planted two years ago. As with all shrubs and trees I have ever planted, they were chosen with birds in mind. Not only do these native trees provide us with early spring blooms, the blooms ripen to berries in June bringing us birds we wouldn’t see otherwise in our small yard…. like this cedar waxwing and his friends that are daily visitors. They have completely cleaned one tree of berries and are working hard on the second tree. As soon as a berry ripens, it disappears!

The trees feed a number of birds…cardinals, catbirds, grosbeaks, robins and more, as well as providing an early bloom for pollinators and a lovely spring sight covered in white blooms for us. I have sampled a few of the ripe berries… sweet and delicious… but I’m afraid I’ll not be baking a serviceberry pie this year. I’m leaving the berries for our fine feathered friends.

Growing up in Virginia, the species my mother grew was Amelinchier canadensis that we called ‘Shadbush,’ a name that signals the shad running in local rivers when the tree blooms. The species I grow is Amelanchier x grandiflora, ‘Autumn Brilliance,’ a name that describes the beautiful brilliant red leaves in the fall. In the winter, the tree has an interesting branch structure and smooth grey bark that will eventually become rough as it ages. We do prune the suckers at the base into one main tree trunk but the species is often left as a multi-stemmed shrub.

So…if you want a lovely small tree (or shrub) that attracts birds and provides you with 4-season ornamental interest, consider one of the native serviceberry trees.  All good…

8 thoughts on “Planting for Birds

    • Hi Wan! Yes, we have found a great place to live and never tire of local adventures. But, heck, I’ve loved EVERY place I’ve lived. HaHa. Happy you like the blog…

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  1. We always wanted catbirds. Plant mahonias and they will come. As soon as the mahonia berries start turning purple these delightful birds show up from wherever they migrate to. They seem to flutter as they fly, which is so pretty. And they are curious and friendly too. They watch you and talk to you and sing all day long. They also love suet and ants! We get all the good birds, but the catbird is my favorite. I do not know how we have so many, but they do know I’m their friend, as I talk to them, and I think they know what I’m saying. Now, how does one tell the sex of this species?

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    • One of my very fav birds…always entertaining us with their antics. I don’t think you can tell male from female… except during breeding season when the males puff up and pursue the females. Also, the males are the more vocal of the two.

      I planted two mahonias last year. Two days ago I had the most beautiful blue berries on the mahonia shrub that I wanted to cut for a flower arrangement but the catbirds got there first. The last berry was eaten today. Sigh…

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