Birds must bring back hundreds of caterpillars to their nestlings every day. The larval hosts for most of these caterpillars are trees. Oak trees support hundreds of different species of moths and butterflies, as do several other species. Blueberry bushes are also great in that regard. Goldenrods and asters are the most valuable of the perennials and also provide seeds to adults. Some other native perennials produce large numbers of caterpillars as well, where others produce very few. For a listing, see Douglas Tallamy’s website.
**Berries that are safe to eat
Nandina berries are toxic to Cedar Waxwings.
Nutritious food for adults - let your garden feed the birds all year
Birds need to eat all the time, so try to provide different plants to cover
the whole year.
Songbirds have been declining in Northern Virginia. Together we can turn this around!
What do songbirds need from the plants in your yard?
Gardening for Songbirds
Food for baby birds - plants that produce caterpillars
Food for nestlings
Turf grass is from Europe and does nothing to support the ecosystem.
Seeds and Nuts
Oaks (Quercus species)
Hickory (Carya species)
American Beech (Fagus grandifolia)
American Hornbeam (Carpinus caroliniana)
Pines (Pinus species)
Maples (Acer species)
Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
River Birch (Betula nigra)
Sweet Gum (Liquidambar styraciflua)
Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera)
Witch Hazel (Hamamelis virginiana)
Buttonbush (Cephalanthus occidentalis)
Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens)
Have you been removing trees as they die? Dead trees provide essential services to birds. Consider leaving the bottom 15-20 feet in place.
The berries of some introduced species are too low in fat content and too high in sugar.
Native plants require no fertilizers or pesticides.
Thickets and hedges are ideal for many birds.
A brush pile can provide similar services.
Food for adults
In other words - native plants!
Oxeye sunflower (Helianthus helianthoides)
Asters (Symphyotrichum species)
Butterfly Weed (Asclepias tuberosa)
Yarrow (Achillea millefolium)
Goldenrod (Solidago species)
Jack in the Pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)
Wild Geranium (Geranium maculatum)
Orange jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Swamp Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)
Berries and fruits