Native Plants to Attract Birds

Trees

Amelanchier arborea
Serviceberry

Fruit ripens in June and is highly attractive to many birds.  Larvae of several butterflies and many moths that feed upon serviceberry foliage may be fed in turn to the nestlings of breeding birds.
Juniperus virginiana
Red cedar

Evergreen foliage provides unsurpassed cover, roosting, and nesting habitat.  Foliage provides food for many moth and butterfly caterpillars utilized by breeding birds.  The berry-like cones of female trees provide food for many wintering birds.
Nyssa sylvatica
Black gum

Provides cover and nesting habitat.  The oily fruits, which ripen in fall, are consumed by birds in autumn and winter.
Prunus americana
Wild plum

Provides both cover and nesting habitat for birds.  Many birds also feed upon the ripe fruits.
Prunus serotina
Black cherry

Provides cover and nesting habitat.  Foliage is fed upon by caterpillars of many butterflies and moths, as well as other insects consumed by breeding birds.  Ripe fruits are relished by many species of birds.
Quercus alba
White oak

Oaks provide perching, roosting and nesting sites for many birds.  The caterpillars of over five hundred species of moths and butterflies feed on oak foliage, making oaks the most vital resource of food for the nestlings of breeding birds.  The roughly furrowed bark of mature trees provide winter niches for many insects that are gleaned by overwintering birds.
Sassafras albidum
Sassafras

Provides cover and nesting sites for birds.  Caterpillars feeding on the foliage provide food for breeding birds.  Many species eat the fruit when it ripens in late summer.
Tilia americana, T. a. var. heterophylla
American linden, White basswood

More than one hundred species of caterpillars feed on basswood, providing food for both spring migrants, as well as breeding birds.  Quail are known to feed on the seeds and nutlets.

Shrubs & Vines

Callicarpa americana
Beautyberry

Showy purple berries ripen in late summer and fall and are eaten by many birds.  Breeding birds also eat the caterpillars of moths that feed upon the foliage.
Cornus alternifolia
Pagoda dogwood

Fruits ripening in early fall are a popular food for many resident and migratory birds.  According to research by Dr. Doug Tallamy, at least twenty species of birds harvest insects and ripe fruit from this shrub.
Cornus racemosa
Gray dogwood

Its suckering habit and tendency to form thickets, provide birds with cover and nesting habitat.  The white fruits that mature in late summer are attractive to both resident and migratory birds.
Crataegus viridis
Green hawthorn

The thorny trunks and branches provide nest sites and cover for birds.  The many caterpillars that feed upon hawthorn foliage provide food for breeding and nestling birds.  Fruits ripen in fall and are available to migrants, but may also persist and be eaten by wintering birds.
Euonymus atropurpureus
Eastern wahoo

Fruits ripen in fall and may persist into winter, providing food for both migrants, as well as overwintering birds.
Ilex decidua
Possumhaw

Branching habit provides both cover and nesting habitat.  Late-ripening fruit is eaten by wintering birds.
Ilex verticillata
Winterberry

Dense growth provides excellent cover and nesting habitat.  Colorful berries may persist until spring in some years, but provide emergency food for winter birds during periods of deep cold and snow when other foods are unavailable.
Lindera benzoin
Spice bush

Its shrubby growth creates nesting habitat for breeding birds.  The berries are attractive to fall migrants.
Parthenocissus quinquefolia
Virginia creeper

The vines provide excellent nest habitat for birds.  At least thirty species of birds are known to feed on the autumn-ripening fruits.
Rhamnus caroliniana
Carolina buckthorn

The shrubby habit provides nest sites for breeding birds, and the ripening fruits are attractive to both resident and migratory birds alike.
Rhus aromatica
Fragrant sumac

Dense, shrubby habit provides excellent cover in all seasons, and nesting sites for breeding birds.  Fruits provide food for many wintering birds when little else is available.
Sambucus canadensis
American elder

The multi-stemmed habit provides cover and nest sites for birds.  Several dozen species consume the small fruits.
Viburnum prunifolium
Blackhaw viburnum 

Utilized by birds for both cover and nesting habitat.  Caterpillars feeding on the foliage provide food for breeding birds.  Berries are eaten by both fall migrants, as well as wintering birds.

Perennials & Grasses

Echinacea purpurea
Purple coneflower

Several species of caterpillars that feed on either the foliage or the flower heads may be consumed by foraging birds.  Finches, especially the Eastern goldfinch, feast on the seeds from summer into winter.
Helianthus salicifolius
Willow-leaved sunflower

Seeds are relished by both fall migrants as well as overwintering birds  
Liatris pycnostachya
Blazing star

The seeds of various Liatris spp. provide some food for wintering birds.
Panicum virgatum
Switchgrass

More than thirty species of birds eat the seeds of switchgrass.  Because it forms large clumps and its stems remain upright in winter, it provides excellent protective cover for birds and small mammals.  
Rudbeckia hirta
Black-eyed Susan

Goldfinches are particularly fond of seeds of the many species of Rudbeckia  
Silphium perfoliatum
Cup plant

“Cups” formed by the large leaves collect dew and rainwater used by small birds for drinking and bathing.  The rhizomatous habit enables cup plant to form dense colonies providing cover and nesting sites.  Numerous seed-eaters, particularly goldfinches, are fond of the seeds
Sorghastrum nutans
Indian grass

Provides nesting habitat and cover for many types of birds, particularly grassland species.  Seeds are readily gleaned by wintering birds.  
Sporobolus heterolepis
Prairie dropseed

Used for both cover and nesting habitat by grassland birds.  Seeds are consumed by many birds in late summer and winter.
Symphyotrichum novae-angliae
New England aster

More than one hundred or more species of caterpillars may feed on asters, which provide food for breeding birds.  Finches and wild turkey are known to feed on the seeds.
Symphyotrichum oblongifolium
Aromatic aster

More than one hundred or more species of caterpillars may feed on asters, which provide food for breeding birds.  Finches and wild turkey are known to feed on the seeds.