Room and board for the garden help
ONE way to get birds to keep your yard and garden bug-free is to plant those trees and shrubs that produce small fruit or seeds. Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum). Sought after by humans and birds alike. Among the 93 species enjoying this sweet fruit are cardinals, robins, finches, flycatchers, and titmice. Plant several varieties (early, midseason, and late) for greater length of harvest and striking fall color. If you want berries for yourself, cover some of the bushes with netting. Provide an acid soil.
Cedar, red (Juniperus virginiana). Junipers grow anywhere, providing snug shelter and berry-like fruits to attract many birds during all four seasons of the year. Any ``spiny'' evergreen is good because it discourages animals from disturbing nests.
Cherry, wild red (Prunus pensylvanica). A fine fruiting tree with handsome flowers. A favorite of almost all fruit-eating songbirds. Tame sweet cherry (P. avium) and sour cherry (P. cerasus) attract the same species of birds as wild red cherry.
Chokeberry (Aronia arbutifolia), sometimes called chokecherry, but not in the prunus family. Has white or pinkish flower clusters with small red fruit in summer.
Cornelian cherry (Cornus mas). Has tiny yellow flowers in March and scarlet fruit in August.
Cotoneaster (C. adpressa praecox), pronounced ``kuh-TOW-knee-aster,'' has masses of showy red berries. All varieties are good for bird food. White flowers in June; fruit, late summer/fall.
Crab apple (Malusfloribunda). Hardy, dependable profuse bloomer, with carmine flowers in early May. Fruits often last until early spring, especially good for early arriving songbirds. Many cultivars now available. Small fruiting varieties are preferred.
Dogwood, white flowering (Cornus florida.) Mid-spring bloomer with bright red fruit in fall. Be sure you get the varieties that are hardy in your area. Other species with bluish fruit can be used also. Some have showy red branches in winter.
Elderberry, sweet (Sambucus canadensis). Birds are so fond of this late summer black-purple pie fruit that berries will need to be protected by mesh while still green if you want a portion. Many nurseries carry the Adams variety, which is very hardy.
Firethorn (Pyracantha coccinea). Masses of small red-orange berries in fall. Makes good emergency food in winter. Make sure to choose varieties that are hardy in your area.
Hawthorn (Crataegus phaenopyrum). Fine nesting tree with thorny branches, discouraging animals. Beautiful white flowers and clusters of berries that last well into winter. Good snack bar for finches, grosbeaks, and thrashers.
Hemlock (Tsuaga canadensis). In hedges, good for nesting and shelter. Seeds in small cones, which are available all year long, are favored fall and winter treats for crossbills, pine siskins, chickadees, and grosbeaks.
Holly (Ilex). All hollies are outstanding bird-food plants. Over 100 varieties are available. Select those that are hardy in your area. Honeysuckle, Tatarian (Lonicera tatarica). Favored nesting place of catbirds. Red and pink flowers in spring produce red fruit in mid to late summer.
Magnolia, star (M. Stellata). It has shiny red seeds, following star-shaped, sweet scented blooms in March to mid-April. Seeds are edible in September. Also hardy in many areas of the North is saucer Magnolia, with handsome red seeds attractive to larger birds. For the South, use M. grandiflora.
Mulberry, Russian (Morus alba tatarica). Produces white (later pink-tinted) fruit shaped like blackberries, which are less messy than purple-fruited species, and last over a long period. They are attractive to all songbirds, So much so that they make your trees sound like a musical clock from dawn to dusk. Our huge trees fruit at the same time as our cherries, which the birds ignore because they are so fond of mulberries.
Russian olive (Elaeagnus angustifolia) and autumn olive (E. umbellatus) are adaptable in practically every state. They are extremely important for bird habitat as well as food. Both have fine silvery foliage, tiny yellowish, fragrant blossoms which produce quantities of small fruit. Russian species has dull yellow-silver fruit and autumn species is salmon-colored. Both ripen in early fall.
White pine (Pinus strobus) and other members of the pine family are extremely important sources of food for songbirds. In the Northeast, 63 species are known to feed on cone seeds.
Shadbush, service-berry (Amelan-chier canadensis). Flowers in early spring and has rosy purple fruit in June, which is tempting for fledglings. Extremely hardy tree that produces food for at least 43 species of birds.
Viburnum, high-bush cranberry (Viburnum opulus). Has brilliant red fruit, which are not eaten by birds until frozen several times; thus they provide food well into winter. Flat, white flower clusters appear in May.
Staghorn sumac (Rhus typhina). A valuable source of bird food which remains in the red, fuzzy, cone-shaped ``candles'' all winter long. This ungainly, shrub-like, small tree has saved many early spring arrivals from starvation. Foliage has beautiful fall coloration.