10 Berries That Birds Love

Gray catbird with a mulberry

Johann Schumacher / Getty Images

Looking to create a bird-friendly backyard? Birdscape your environment with berry-producing plants that birds love. These plants produce lovely flowers that develop into colorful berries, which will attract a variety of birds and turn your garden into a wildlife wonderland. These plants also attract insects, a popular food source for many birds. Consult with your local nursery or native plant authority to find species in these plant families that are appropriate for your local region’s soil and climate.

Here are 10 easy-to-grow, berry-producing shrubs, vines, and trees that produce berries that will have birds flocking to your garden.

Warning

Some of the plants on this list are toxic to pets. For more information about the safety of specific plants, consult the ASPCA's searchable database.

1
of 10

Blackberry (Rubus spp.)

large blackberry bush filled with green leaves and blackberries

Photosampler / Getty Images

The blackberry is a widely grown shrub that is considered invasive in some areas. Birds love the tasty fruit and nesting spots these shrubs and vines provide. A summer fruit, blackberries provide food during the breeding season.

Blackberries are thorny plants and vigorous growers that root easily. They require regular pruning to keep their branches from becoming a tangled and impenetrable bramble of stems.

  • Grow as: Bush or vine.
  • Blooms: Late spring and early summer.
  • Berries: Fruits in July, August, or September.
  • Attracts: Warblers, orioles, tanagers, thrashers, mockingbirds, catbirds, turkeys, robins, and other thrushes.
2
of 10

Dogwood (Cornus spp.)

dogwood plant filled with red berries

BasieB / Getty Images

The classic dogwood blooms are popular with humans, but it’s the berries that birds love. The high-fat content of the berries provides valuable nutrients for migrating songbirds in the fall. Dogwoods are popular ornamental landscape plants because of their attractive foliage, fall color, and beautiful flowers. For birds, the plant provides nutritious fruit for migrating songbirds in the fall and serves as a nesting site.

Three of the most common dogwood trees and shrubs in the U.S. are the pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifloia), which is found throughout much of the Eastern U.S., the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), which has more of a southerly range, and the Pacific or mountain dogwood (Cornus nuthall), which is found from Central California to British Columbia.

  • Grow as: Small trees; some, such as red twigged dogwood (Cornus baileyi), are grown as shrubs.
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: Summer to fall depending on the species.
  • Attracts: Bluebirds and other thrushes, woodpeckers, catbirds, thrashers, and mockingbirds.
3
of 10

Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

elderberry plant with green leaves and dark purple berries

kacege photography / Getty Images

Native throughout the lower 48 states, the elderberry is a fast-growing deciduous shrub that bears fruit in the summer. The plants’ umbrella-shaped clusters of white flowers attract insects, which in turn brings more birds to the garden.

Elderberries have versatile garden uses as foundation shrubs or as eye-catching specimens in a mixed border. Regular pruning will improve the fruit yield. The plants can be propagated from cuttings.

  • Grow as: Shrub or small tree.
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: Mid-late summer and September.
  • Attracts: Warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds, and waxwings.
4
of 10

Holly (Ilex spp.)

winterberry holly with green leaves and red berries

Original Image by Van Swearingen / Getty Images

Holly is one of the most versatile and useful plants to attract birds to backyard gardens. Fruit colors range from red to yellow to orange to white or black. A dioecious species, female plants require a male plant in the vicinity in order for the female plant to fruit.

Many holly species are evergreen, but some, like the winterberry, are deciduous. With more than 400 species that range from creeping shrubs to trees 100 feet or more tall, one or more hollies should work in any location with adequate sunlight.

While they’re great for birds, holly berries are toxic to humans and pets.

  • Grow as: Shrub or tree.
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: Ripen in the fall and, in some species, last until early spring.
  • Attracts: Bluebirds and other thrushes, woodpeckers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds.
5
of 10

Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

juniper berries

Jiinna / Shutterstock

A widely distributed conifer, the juniper’s berries provide food for birds in winter. The plant’s dense branches shield birds from cold winds and protect their nesting sites. Most junipers are dioecious—female plants will not fruit unless a male plant is nearby.

This hardy evergreen plant requires sun but can tolerate dry soil conditions. Homeowners should be careful not to plant junipers too densely because the thick foliage will prevent understory plants from getting enough light to grow.

  • Grow as: Shrub or tree.
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: August through October.
  • Attracts: Bobwhites; turkeys; bluebirds, robins, and other thrushes; thrashers; mockingbirds; catbirds; warblers; grosbeaks; jays; sapsuckers and other woodpeckers; waxwings.
6
of 10

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

mulberries on a miniature mulberry tree

Jenny Dettrick / Getty Images

The red mulberry is a perennial tree native to the U.S. The tree fruits in summer, providing food during birds’ summer breeding season. Despite the name, the fruit range in color from red to nearly black. Mature mulberry trees average 12 to 36 feet in height.

The fruit can stain sidewalks, vehicles, patio furniture, or any other outdoor items it comes into contact with, so the trees are best planted in a large, open space. Red mulberry seeds can be sown in the fall without stratification.

  • Grow as: Large tree.
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: Late spring to late summer, depending on species.
  • Attracts: Warblers, orioles, tanagers, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds, bluebirds, and other thrushes.
7
of 10

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana)

American Pokeweed with green leaves and bright pink and purple fruit

Uliana Oliinyk / Getty Images

An aggressive, herbaceous perennial that grows like a weed, the American pokeweed is native to most U.S. states, but is considered invasive in California because of its problematic growth habits. Birds flock to it for the dark purple fruit that ripens in the fall. All parts of the plant are poisonous to humans. 

Once established, pokeweed is difficult to control. Although the plant dies back each winter, it grows back in the spring, and self-seeds easily. Seeds of the four to 10 foot plant are also widely dispersed by birds.

  • Grow as: Shrub.
  • Blooms: Summer.
  • Berries: Late summer through fall.
  • Attracts: Warblers, orioles, tanagers, waxwings, woodpeckers, wrens, bluebirds and other thrushes, catbirds, thrashers, and mockingbirds.
8
of 10

Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)

Canadian serviceberry plant with dark red and purple berries

Marina Denisenko / Getty Images

The serviceberry, also known as the Juneberry and the shadbush, is native to the lower 48 states, Alaska, and Canada. The deciduous serviceberry can be grown as a shrub or an understory tree. Two to three years after planting, the reddish berries appear in June, hence the name Juneberry.

In addition to providing food, the serviceberry flowers in the spring and is a favorite nesting spot for many birds.

  • Grow as: Shrub or small tree.
  • Blooms: April through May depending on locality.
  • Berries: June.
  • Attracts: Robins, waxwings, orioles, woodpeckers, chickadees, cardinals, jays, doves, and finches.
9
of 10

Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn sumac in bloom

Ilja Enger-Tsizikov / Getty Images

A popular ornamental native to the Northeast, Midwest, and Appalachian Mountains, staghorn sumac is a deciduous shrub or tree. The female plants bear fruit—called drupes—in a compact, cone-shaped cluster. Fruit matures in late summer through early fall and remains on the plant into winter.

The plant gets its name from its branching habit, which resembles deer antlers. Staghorn sumac is not to be confused with poison sumac (Toxicodendron vernix), a completely different plant.

  • Grow as: Shrub or small tree.
  • Blooms: May to July.
  • Berries: Late summer through early fall; fruit remains on the plant into winter.
  • Attracts: Warblers, woodpeckers, chickadees, bluebirds and other thrushes, catbirds, thrashers, mockingbirds.
10
of 10

Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

sparrow in a viburnum tree full of red berries

TorriPhoto / Getty Images

Viburnum is a popular flowering landscape shrub or small tree that comes in a variety of species. In fall, berries ranging in color from red to pink appear, darkening to blue or purple-black when ripe. In addition to food, viburnum provide nesting areas and cover to birds. Some, like the arrowwood and nannyberry, also attract butterflies. 

The plant grows in a wide range of temperatures in USDA zones 2 through 9, and there is a viburnum variety to tolerate virtually any garden condition: wet or dry, sun or shade, natural or formal.

  • Grow as: Shrub or tree.
  • Blooms: Early spring through June.
  • Berries: Fall through winter.
  • Attracts: Robins, bluebirds, thrushes, catbirds, cardinals, finches, waxwings, and others.

To check if a plant is considered invasive in your area, go to the National Invasive Species Information Center or speak with your regional extension office or local gardening center.