The erosion of natural habitats means that domestic gardens are becoming more and more important to wild birds. Your feeders will really help the birds, particularly in the winter months, but judicious planting is the key to creating the perfect garden for a variety of species.
Migrant Wild Birds
During the autumn over a million fieldfares and redwings will migrate from Scandinavia to Britain in order to escape the harsh northern winter. They survive by foraging for berries and so berry-bearing species are a fabulous inclusion in your garden. Not only will they attract wild birds and help them to survive the winter, the berries will also add splashes of colour which are as vibrant as any flowers.
Most berries grow on shrubs and trees and so it is important to consider which varieties are of the most appropriate size for your garden and which respond well to pruning.
Trees and Shrubs for Seasonal Colour
The genus Sorbus features over 100 species of trees and shrubs which produce berries in an array of colours from pink to deep red. Sornus cashmiriana is a wonderful shrub with gorgeous pink blossom and white berries in the winter. Sorbus aucuparia, the rowan tree, delivers orange berries from late summer whilst Sorbus Joseph Rock provides striking autumn foliage with its bronze and copper leaves.
Crab apple trees will give you attractive blossom in the spring and colourful fruit in the autumn months. These trees are favourites with waxwings which are striking crested birds that visit us from sub-arctic regions. Malus John Downie and Golden Hornet are heavily blossomed crab apple species which lift your garden in spring and autumn.
If your garden better suits shrubs than trees then pyracantha produces many berries and is loved by birds. However, this shrub has serious thorns and so isn’t very child friendly. Viburnums have pretty spring flowers which are followed by berries. Viburnum opulus also gives you attractive reddening foliage.
For Native Wild Birds
You can also use planting to make your garden a wonderful haven for many native species as well as for our Scandinavian visitors.
Holly provides the ultimate bird-friendly border for your garden. The dense foliage offers valuable shelter and the berries are the perfect meal. Holly is a good place to nest and the pollen of the spring flowers attract many insects.
Guelder Rose is a native shrub with red berries that ripen early and are softer than those of holly. This makes them highly appealing to smaller birds, including blackcaps, garden warblers and robins, plus song thrushes and possibly waxwings. Again, this shrub attracts plenty of insects and so helps adult birds which are feeding their chicks. Dogwood is also a good choice of shrub for the garden. The black berries are eaten by many birds including finches, robins, pigeons, thrushes and starlings.
Cotoneaster horizontalis is the perfect inclusion for autumn colour in a small garden. This shrub delivers masses of red berries and provides good nesting sites when grown against a wall. Blackbirds and thrushes are great fans of the berries.
Berries are great for birds whilst enhancing your garden with vibrant colour. Why not feature colourful shrubs as well as your feeders?