10 Berries That Birds Love

Gray catbird with a mulberry
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. In addition to birds, these plants also attract insects, another favorite of our avian friends. 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.

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

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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: A bush or vine.
  • Blooms: Late spring and early summer.
  • Berries: Summer.
  • Attracts: Warblers; orioles; tanagers; thrashers; mockingbirds; catbirds; turkeys; robins; and other thrushes.
2
of 10

Dogwood (Cornus spp.)

dogwood plant filled with red berries

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The classic dogwood blooms are popular with humans, but it’s the berries that birds love. Dogwoods are popular ornamental landscape plants because of their attractive foliage, fall color, and beautiful flowers. For birds, the plant provides fruit 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: Most often seen as small trees, but there are many species of dogwood shrubs, such as red twigged dogwood (Cornus baileyi).
  • Blooms: Spring.
  • Berries: The berries ripen from summer to fall depending on the species. Their high-fat content provides valuable nutrients for migrating songbirds in the fall.
  • Attracts: Bluebirds and other thrushes; woodpeckers; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.
3
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Elderberry (Sambucus nigra)

elderberry plant with green leaves and dark purple berries

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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: The purple berries ripen in mid-late summer and September.
  • Attracts: Warblers; orioles; tanagers; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds; waxwings.
4
of 10

Holly (Ilex spp.)

winterberry holly with green leaves and red berries

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Holly is one of the most versatile and useful plants to attract birds to backyard gardens. The plant fruits in fall and ripens in winter. 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: Colors range from red to yellow to orange to white or black. They ripen in the fall and, in some species, last until early spring.
  • Attracts: Bluebirds and other thrushes; woodpeckers; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.
5
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Common Juniper (Juniperus communis)

juniper berries

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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: The berries aren’t very tasty, and wildlife tend to leave them alone in the fall. In winter, however, when not much else may be available, birds become much less picky about taste and juniper berries are much appreciated.
  • Attracts: Bobwhites; turkeys; bluebirds, robins, and other thrushes; thrashers; mockingbirds; catbirds; warblers; grosbeaks; jays; sapsuckers, and other woodpeckers; waxwings. The foliage of junipers may provide protective shelter and even nesting sites for mockingbirds, thrashers, robins, waxwings, juncos, and various sparrows.
6
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Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

mulberries on a miniature mulberry tree

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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: A large tree, up to 36 feet tall.
  • Blooms: In the spring.
  • Berries: The fruits resemble slender blackberries and, depending on species, mature from late spring to late summer.
  • 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

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An aggressive, native, herbaceous perennial that grows like a weed, the American pokeweed is considered invasive in most areas. 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: Drooping clusters of glossy black berries appear on red stems in late summer and ripen in the fall.
  • Attracts: Warblers; orioles; tanagers; waxwings; woodpeckers; wrens; bluebirds and other thrushes; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.
8
of 10

Serviceberry (Amelanchier spp.)

Canadian serviceberry plant with dark red and purple berries

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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: Produces masses of white or pinkish flowers in April through May depending on locality.
  • Berries: The red berries appear in June.
  • Attracts: Robins; waxwings; orioles; woodpeckers; chickadees; cardinals; jays; doves; and finches.
9
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Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina)

Staghorn sumac in bloom

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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: The berries form in spikey, dense red clusters at the terminal ends of branches and can last through winter and into spring.
  • Attracts: Warblers; woodpeckers; chickadees; bluebirds and other thrushes; catbirds; thrashers; mockingbirds.
10
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Viburnum (Viburnum spp.)

sparrow in a viburnum tree full of red berries

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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: Red, yellow, blue or black berries appear in fall. Some last through the 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.