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Shrubs for Birds

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Indigo Bunting
on mulberry
Adding shrubs to your property is a great way to attract more birds. One of the better times to get shrubs is Fall. One reason is that this a season when many nurseries put their shrubs on sale. This will enable you to buy larger quantities of each species for less money, providing a greater mass of shrubbery for the birds.

Not only is Fall a good time to buy shrubs, it is also one of the best times to plant them. They are just about to go dormant for the winter so they transplant better; they have time to get acclimated to the soil through the winter; and in spring, they will put out vigorous new growth that will produce flowers and fruit.

Shrubs are superb plantings for your garden and property, since they do so many good things for the birds. For example, shrubs can produce food such as berries for Mockingbirds, Waxwings, and Grosbeaks, and their flowers can offer nectar for Hummingbirds and Orioles. When buying berry-producing shrubs, try to get a variety of species that produce berries in different seasons so that you will provide for the birds throughout the year. Here are some excellent shrubs for each time of year.

Early Summer Berries: Shadbush, Chokecherry, Manzanita

Midsummer Berries: Blackberries, Elderberries, Buffaloberries, Mulberries

Fall Berries: Dogwoods, Viburnums, Mahonias

Winter Berries: Barberries, Sumacs, Hollies

Nectaring Shrubs: Currants, Quince, Chuparosa

Shrubs also produce shelter for birds, and there are a variety of types of shelter that birds need. In hot climates, they need shelter from the sun. In other regions, they need protection from the wind, rain, and cold. In addition, shrubs can provide cover in which small birds can hide if a hawk is in the area. You can plant a few shrubs near your feeders for the birds to fly into when a hawk, such as a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk, swoops in. Shrubs for shelter should have dense branching and lots of leaves. If they are evergreens, this is even better, for they can provide shelter all year.

Finally, shrubs can be good places for birds to nest. But not just any shrub will do. The shrubs need to have branches that can hold and support a nest. This requires a dense branching structure, not a loose open one.

Shrubs for Nesting Birds: Alders, Willows, Sages, Lilacs

Keep adding shrubs every year; they are a wonderful way to enrich your property, and you can never have enough of them for the birds.

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