Top 10 Berry Plants Birds Love

Tasty fruits dangling from open branches entice birds to stop by for a quick winter snack.

Berries are an irresistible sweet treat for birds, particularly in winter when food is scarce. The fruits produced by these trees and shrubs provide calories and crucial nutrients that your favorite songbirds need, especially during the cold months when other natural food sources are nonexistent or buried in the snow. (Read more: 12 Berries Backyard Birds Love)

Check out our picks for trees with berries that backyard birds can’t resist!

photo credit: Fast-Growing-Trees

1. Eastern redcedar

Juniperus virginiana, Zones 2 to 9

Size: 40 to 50 feet tall, 8 to 20 feet wide

Eastern redcedar and cedar waxwings form a marriage made in bird heaven. Several species adore the blue-gray fruits that resemble berries but are actually cones made of fused scales.

It may be tempting to grow several trees in a large group, but keep eastern redcedar away from apple and crabapple trees. A fungus known as cedar apple rust thrives when both apples and redcedars are present.

Why we love it: The pyramid shape provides dense nesting and roosting cover for many birds, including sparrows, robins, mockingbirds, juncos and warblers. Birds use the bark for nest material.

Where to buy it: Fast-Growing-Trees

photo credit: Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Firethorn

Pyracantha coccinea, Zones 5 to 8

Size: 6 to 18 feet tall and wide

Woody plant expert Michael Dirr says it best: “For fruit display in the winter garden, few plants rival pyracanthas.” Birds flock to the clusters of orange to red fruits (technically called pomes, not berries) and may appear intoxicated when fruits are overripe.

Why we love it: Firethorns adapt to most conditions. Choose one that is resistant to fire blight.

Where to buy it: Fast-Growing-Trees

photo credit: Proven Winners

3. Winterberry

Ilex verticillata, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 6 to 15 feet tall and wide, but varies by species

Songbirds, waterfowl and game birds love the fruits of this common holly, especially in late winter when food is scarce. Winterberry grows best in full sun and tolerates wet soil in spring and drought in summer.

Why we love it: Crimson berries add color to the winter landscape. Plant in groups for major impact.

Where to buy it: Proven Winners

photo credit: Monrovia

4. American cranberrybush

Viburnum trilobum, Zones 2 to 7

Size: 8 to 12 feet tall and wide

Viburnums populate a huge family of plants in a wide range of sizes and habits, each with white clusters of spring flowers that form red, blue or black  fruits. American cranberrybush viburnum is among the best for its handsome rusty-red fall color and use in multiples as a deciduous hedge.

Why we love it: Few pest problems. Plus, fruit persists well into winter.

Where to buy it: Monrovia

photo credit: Proven Winners

5. Chokeberry

Aronia, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 6 to 10 feet tall and wide, but varies by species

Chokeberry shrubs produce red or black berries that are low in fat and protein, so birds wait until the more desirable foods are gone to gobble them up. These tough native plants display
lovely fall color.

Why we love it: You may end up battling the birds in order to glean the berries, which are high in antioxidants but require sweeteners to make them palatable to humans.

Where to buy it: Proven Winners

photo credit: Nature Hills

6. Crabapple

Malus, Zones 4 to 8

Size: Up to 25 feet tall and wide

Crabapples come in a range of sizes and shapes. All produce small apples of varying sizes and colors that remain as hard as marbles until freeze-thaw cycles make them appealing to birds. Oddly, birds tend to avoid the fruits of Adams, Donald Wyman and Red Jewel but gorge on most of the rest.

Why we love it: Lovely spring blooms of white, pink and almost red.

Where to buy it: Nature Hills

photo credit: Harris Seed

7. Serviceberry

Amelanchier, Zones 3 to 9

Size: May reach 25 feet tall

Hard-working and airy, serviceberries grow as trees or multi-stemmed shrubs. Plant a species that is suited to your region to attract birds and other wildlife. The blooms, foliage and bark stand out when grown against a dark background, like the one evergreens provide.

Why we love it: Four-season interest! From spring blooms to summer fruits to fall color to beautiful winter bark, serviceberry shines. 

Where to buy it: Harris Seed

photo credit: Garden Hills Nursery

8. Hawthorn

Crataegus, Zones 3 to 8

Size: Up to 30 feet tall and wide

Providing good cover for many birds, hawthorns also produce scarlet berries that hang on nearly all winter. Thorns up to 3 inches long are both a liability and an asset, so try thornless cockspur, Crataegus crusgalli var. inermis.

Why we love it: Hawthorns tolerate drought, grow in almost any kind of soil and produce fall color.

Where to buy it: Garden Hills Nursery

photo credit: Garden Hills Nursery

9. Elderberry

Sambucus, Zones 3 to 9

Size: 12 feet tall and wide

This luxurious shrub features long, arching branches. In early summer, it produces flat white flower clusters that turn into purple berries by late summer. The fruit is relished by gray catbirds, robins, bluebirds and many other songbirds.

Why we love it: Butterflies love the showy, fragrant blooms!

Where to buy it: Garden Hills Nursery

photo credit: Proven Winners

10. Beautyberry

Callicarpa, Zones 5 to 8

Size: 3 to 8 feet tall and wide

Tiny spring flowers produce clusters of magenta, purple or white fruits that remain on these spreading shrubs after the leaves drop. The fruits become a good food source for many birds, including mockingbirds, robins, towhees and brown thrashers.

Why we love it: It’s so easy to grow—volunteers and seeds dropped by birds may spread quickly.

Where to buy it: Proven Winners

Deb Wiley
Deb Wiley is a freelance writer and editor from Des Moines, Iowa. She loves plants that attract birds to her garden.