Garden Foods to Attract Birds to the North Coast Pacific Garden

What birds eat from a garden habitat is a broad spectrum of foods. Directly from plants come such fleshy fruits as cherries, holly berries, and cane fruits like blackberry and raspberry. Nuts, acorns, for example, are favored by some species, while a vast array of birds seek out seeds of grasses, annuals, perennials, and some shrubs and trees.

Nectar-producing plants are very popular for attracting hummingbirds and orioles. Flowers with tubular red corollas are especially attractive to hummingbirds. Other trees, shrubs, vines and flowers can also provide nectar for hummingbirds.

Summer-fruiting plants includes plants that produce fruits or berries from May through August. Among birds that can be attracted in the summer are brown thrashers, catbirds, robins, thrushes, waxwings, woodpeckers, orioles, cardinals, towhees and grosbeaks. Examples of summer-fruiting plants are various species of cherry, chokecherry, honeysuckle, raspberry, serviceberry, blackberry, blueberry, grape, mulberry, plum and elderberry.

Fall-fruiting plants include shrubs and vines whose fruits are ripe
in the fall. These foods are important both for migratory birds, which build up fat reserves prior to migration, and as a food source for non-migratory species that need to enter the winter season in good physical condition. Fall-fruiting plants include dogwoods, mountain ash, winterberries, cottoneasters and buffalo berries.

Birds also eat a  smorgasbord of insects and other invertebrates, from earthworms and caterpillars to flies, aphids, and microscopic mites, which provides important dietary protein to some species. Some birds consume insects year-round, while virtually all garden birds forage for them during the demanding breeding season when there are nestlings to feed. Hawks and owls eat small animals, such as mice.

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