Best Plants for Attracting Birds in the Midwest

These plants native to the Midwest provide abundant food and shelter for birds.


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Birdfeeders bring many birds to my garden, but I like to think that the garden itself gives them plenty of reasons to hang around. Trees and shrubs provide nuts, berries, and shelter, and I grow flowers for their seeds and nectar. I let leaf-litter remain around shrubs to compost slowly; this gives the birds a great place to look for insects. Here are some of my favorite native plants for birds:

Spice bush (Lindera benzoin) grows in full sun or shade; the tiny yellow flowers open in early spring. Thrushes eat the berries in fall.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea), blooms in early spring and produces a crop of black berries that turn red in June; they taste sweet, but the birds are likely to beat you to them; great fall foliage.

Little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) is a native grass that grows about 3 feet tall, and great for sunny spots in a shrub border. Small birds love the tufted, cottony seeds.

American cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum) is a handsome large shrub that grows to about 6 feet; it makes a good screen. Loads of red berries in fall sometimes persist into winter.

Browse more shrubs with winter interest.

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