plants for birds, not hummers

crueltyfre(Tampa 9a heat 10 sunset 26)October 23, 2011

What plants attract birds? I love the songs of mockingbirds and the cooing of doves, I use to marvel at the large flocks of jays and grackles. But I'm seeing less and less every year.

So many people plant to attract hummers or butterflies, I've decided to try and plant for the rest of the birds. But when I search for "plants that attract birds" all you get is hummers. I have a beauty berry and night blooming jasmine which I see a mockingbird in occasionally and I keep a feeder full of seeds. Anyone know of anything plants that the rest of the birds would eat?


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Are you in a rural area or subdivision/urban area? The natives that we have all around here obviously attract birds of all kinds because they are everywhere, but we are in a rural area and live in the middle of the woods with all kinds of native plants. Natives are hard to come by commercially but there are a few growers out there, you will have to surf the internet to find them. The beauty berry is a good one, though and I've read that mockingbirds like those. Here we have so many things with berries this time of year. Hollies, Walter's Viburnum, Inkberries, Arrowood Viburnum, Wax Myrtles, Greenbriar. Then other times of the year are blackberries, Sparkleberries, Wild grapes. Do you have enough cover for the birds such as hedges, trees? They don't like areas where they can't escape into cover. Although I've noticed that Mockingbirds seem to like wide-open spaces, most other birds want lots of trees and large bushes around to fly into. Especially around the bird feeders, hawks and owls love to stake them out, they aren't stupid.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:03AM
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carolb_w_fl(zone 9/10)

Water will attract them as well as native plants - a couple of birdbaths are better than a feeder, IMPE.

Here's a search results page @ EDIS (U of FL) for 'attracting birds'.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Search results: attracting birds

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:34AM
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Hollies and Dogwood def.

They love Raspberry and Blackberries. I think I see Mockingbirds moreso on the blackberries because they are ground feeders if I am not mistaking. I had a small Raspberry that would have broken limbs every time it showed fruit from the birds landing on it.

Also I hear they like Figgs and it seems that the trees are pretty inexpensive @ the big box stores and grow quickly but are not too big.

Here is a link that might be useful: This is another thread.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 11:37AM
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This is not spam - just a suggestion.

One comment that I would like to make - I thought bird seed was pretty generic - I would buy whatever I could get at Wal-Mart. Then I decided to try Scott's brand - I think it was for Songbirds. It brought in the Titmice and some other types of Warblers that I had never seen. But after having just one bag of it - I couldn't find it anymore. Then my friend who has all kinds of feeders and all types of birds told me to get the Kaytee brand at Ace Hardware. I got the Finch Mix, the Safflower, and the Sunflower heart one that has just the center part not the shell. Wow! What a difference. I ended up Chipping Sparrows, Goldfinches, Parulas, more Titmice, Nuthatches, and several other Warblers last winter. Plus the numbers of Cardinals, Doves increased as well.

My friend also uses different types of feeders: flat ones for the doves, sock type of the Nyre seed that finches like, and then the kind with the perches for them to land on as well as the one where the seed falls into a tray.

She also has them at different heights - some in shade, some in sun.

So - you might try the different seed. It is more expensive but it really made a difference for me. Another friend even saw Bluebirds last year after switching to this type of seed.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 12:52PM
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I've been in my house for six years now. And I think the most important thing we do for birds is we don't use pesticides. Ever. When we first moved in, we saw the occasional mocking bird, cardinal, jay and dove.
After three years of no pesticides, we had cardinals, doves, jays, mocking birds and finches all nesting in the yard and Mexican Orioles and Amazon parrots stopping by. We also saw a lot more butterflies and even some hummers.
Fast forward another three years and I saw a painted bunting a couple weeks ago. We also have gold finches and several birds I haven't identified yet. And I have a very small yard. Yes, I plant natives wherever I can find room. But I think the most important thing I have done is make sure that there are bugs in my yard. A lot of these birds eat bugs. You can't plant bugs, you just have to put up with them.
I caught my cardinals eating caterpillars off dying tomato plants at the end of the season a couple years ago. And I know you can attract cardinals with a good seed mix, but they also need to eat bugs. And I only realized the caterpillar feast was happening because my boy cardinal made so much noise, calling his mate, to let her know that there was a caterpillar feast to be had on the dying tomatoes. This was in April, when the tomatoes are pretty much done down here. Earlier in the season, I would have been out squishing caterpillars, or even spraying with soap. I do what I can to protect tomato plants - but my limit is chemicals. And when the plant is dying, I let it die in the yard, and feed the bugs which feed the birds.
I also have one large trees that several birds nest in every year, and I have shrubs - some birds won't nest up high. They want low shrubs. And even birds who nest up high, like cardinals, need shrubs nearby for when they kick the babies out of the nest.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 4:52PM
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Also, if you have a cat, put a bell on him. Lots of folks believe you should never let a domestic cat outside, for his own health and for the health of the local wildlife. I tried. But I could not keep one of our cats inside. And the minute he brought a bird in, I put a bell on him.
Now, my birds know him and he doesn't have a chance because they can hear him coming.
It's actually fun watching the mocking birds harass him. They hear him coming and make sure he doesn't get anywhere near their nests. They won't hurt him and he won't hurt them.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 5:05PM
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akaj9(9 Central Florida)

The best thing I did to attract birds was let the borders of my property go "back" to reforested itself with lots of wax myrtles, pines and grasses which the birds "LOVE." Warblers love wax myrtles when it's their time here in fall and spring....I supplement with some nyger seed in sacks...But amazingly enough the easiest way to get birds, is not to just feed them but give them a place to live....I made a wood pecker house out of an old log...Woodpecker moved right in, put up a bluebird house...bluebirds came...put up another high one for catcher came back for many years, till the titmouse beat her to it one spring, I quickly made another similar to entice her back...another set of bluebirds moved in, and below them in another bluebird house we had chikadees this year! That being said...mocking birds seem to like small trees, and have nested in everyone in our yard...from open to dense, we also get alot of nesters in the shrubs that border the property...mainly wax myrtles, thrush and sparrows and such....I only use black sunflower seeds for food, other than that, wax myrtle berries, honeysuckle and the best ever attractor...a mulberry bush,all the birds eat there, but catbird, gackle come special, they don't stick around though. We do have cardinals that visit, but I don't think they nest here...they like the cover of the very large climbing rose and also the honeysuckle.....We do have a bird bath and also a small pond with running that may help too....But I stress that the natural areas seem to be the single most effective attractant.

    Bookmark   October 23, 2011 at 6:10PM
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keiki(10 FL)

I don't get hummers but I do have birds in the yard at all times. I notice they like small trees or large bushes the most. Cardinals love thick bushy type like firebush, necklace pod, native coffee and beautyberry. I have found many birds like bamboo which surprised me, I guess its a good place to hide. I also have 4 bird baths, a fountain and a pond with a fountain. When it is dry season they all come here. I stopped feeding them seed as it seemed the grackles where the only ones getting any food.

I agree with Natives and veggies about organic gardening making the garden a more sought after place for the wildlife.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 9:29AM
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crueltyfre(Tampa 9a heat 10 sunset 26)

Thanks for all the suggestions and links. I'm off to start planning my bird garden!

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 9:54AM
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zzackey(8b GA)

Hollies and juniper were recomended for us for the birds. We had two Eastern bluebirds skip migration a few years ago and stay with us. Now there are eight of them in the family. They love our birdbath we have on the ground for them. They are so much fun to watch when they bathe with wild abandon, not like any other bird. I heard they like raisins that have been soaked in water so they plump up, plus any other fruit you can spare. Also the yellow ones like suet and so do the woodpeckers.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 7:00PM
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gardengimp(9B Seminole Cnty FL)

Lori, I try to plant a variety of things so that something is always seeding/fruiting. Also, I see birds all the time in spanish moss - bug hunting I presume. Birds around here like to hang out in the podocarpus.


    Bookmark   October 24, 2011 at 10:37PM
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