If you’re a current subscriber, log in below. If you would like to subscribe, please click the subscribe tab above.
Username and Password Help
Column courtesy of Andrew Holsinger
University of Illinois Extension
Interest in songbirds is often thought of when it comes to feeding, but with some planning you can also offer habitat for possible nesting, states University of Illinois Extension, Horticulture Educator, Andrew Holsinger. “Planting shrubs is an activity that takes place in the fall, but there can be added benefits when it comes to selection,” said Holsinger, who provides some tips for selecting high-growing shrubs to attract birds.
“Select for high quality food,” he said. “Our best dogwoods for high quality food for the birds are Gray Dogwood (Corunus racemosa) and Silky Dogwood (Conrus amomum).” Dogwoods are most often associated with their spring floral displays, but these flowers turn into fruit and offer an excellent food resource for the birds. Gray Dogwood is very adaptable (suckers easily) to soil conditions and is excellent for difficult sites (not polite for the garden site). Silky Dogwood is especially useful in moist sites and has reddish stems and burgundy fall color.
If you’ve got room to spare and care to share with the birds, sumacs are a great selection. Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra) offer excellent fall foliage when the large compound leaves turn red and orange. Smooth Sumac is a dioecious species as male and female flowers are produced on separate plants. It is recommended to plant 3 to 5 plants in close proximity to ensure the presence of both sexes for ample fruit and seed production. Although a fair food source the canopy is too open to make good cover.
“Plant elderberry in spring after the final frost,” Holsinger recommends. If you are planning to establish Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) selecting a proper site can be beneficial in the fall. Pre-plant soil testing is recommended to determine if pH levels are suitable to the level of 5.5-6.5. “Sites that have less than ideal drainage can be more productive if planted on berms or raised areas with better drainage.” states Holsinger.
Holsinger says “viburnums are vibrant for their fall color, but some also offer a late fall feeding opportunity for birds.” Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum), Wayfaring tree Viburnum (V. lantana), American Cranberrybush Viburnum (V. opulus var. americanum), and Linden Viburnum (V. dilatatum) all are fall fruiting with fruits blue-black in color. There are many choices when it come to viburnums. Possumhaw (V. nudum) fruits are attractive to lots of desirable birds and American Cranberrybush Viburnum has attractive fruit that attracts Cardinals. Be careful when selecting viburnum to select an appropriate size for your location.