TJ's Top 10 Natural Bird Feeders (in Winter)

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Top 10 Natural Bird Feeders

By TJ Nagel, Russell Tree Experts

I happened across a hawthorn downtown this past weekend who’s dormant canopy was alive with several dozen robins gorging themselves with its fruit. The birds seemed so happily preoccupied in their feast that they hardly took notice of me. When I arrived home a few minutes later, I noticed a mockingbird cleaning out the last of the fruit on our holly outside the kitchen window. Later, when I shared these details with my wife, she informed that February is National Bird Feeding Month. Shame on me - I had no idea.

So in honor of our feathered friends, the following is a list of my top 10 native trees, shrubs, and vines that help to provide birds with nutrition during the winter months when food is scarce.

Thanks for reading my article. I hope to see you at my winter walk, March 16th at Jeffrey Mansion Park.  Tickets are going fast so get yours before they’re sold out!

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Celtis occidentalis

This large urban tolerant shade tree produces a small dark red to purple rounded fruit with a date-like flavor that ripens late summer/fall but is also winter persistent. The fruit is is sought after by sapsuckers, mockingbirds, cedar waxwings, robins, and bluebirds as well as small mammals. In more rural areas hackberry fruit can attract pheasant, quail, grouse and wild turkey.

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American Holly

Ilex opaca

This large shrub to small/medium sized tree produces showy red fruit on female plants that are sought after by mockingbirds, thrashers, robins, wrens, warblers and woodpeckers.

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Myrica pensylvanica

This medium sized semi-evergreen shrub produces silvery-gray berries that persist year around and that are cherished by chickadees, bluebirds, catbirds, red bellied woodpeckers and warblers.

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Eastern Red Cedar

Juniperus virginiana

The female of this tough and under utilized evergreen species produces a small berry-like cone that lasts late into the winter and early spring. I have observed mockingbirds, blue birds, robins and cedar waxwings taking advantage of this fruit when most other food resources are exhausted.

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Quercus spp.

This stately group of trees provide winter persistent acorns feeding bluejays, woodpeckers, nuthatches, pigeons, ducks, grouse and wild turkey. Also a great food source for small mammals and white tailed deer.

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Staghorn Sumac

Rhus typhina

This shrub/small tree produces spikey clusters of red berries in the fall that persist into the winter and early spring and are relished by chickadees, bluebirds, cardinal, flickers, towhees and many others

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Viburnum spp.

Most species of viburnum produce edible fruit for birds. Our Ohio native Viburnum prunifolium, Viburnum acerifolium and Viburnum lentago have tasty fruit in the fall that is winter persistent and sought after by many overwintering birds and a early spring migrants.


Virginia Creeper

Parthenocissus quinquefolia

Virginia creeper is vigorous, adaptable and urban tolerant vine with winter persistent fruit that attracts thrushes, robins, catbirds, cardinals, warblers woodpeckers and many other bird species. Also has great scarlet fall color in the foliage.

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Winterberry Holly

Ilex verticillata

This female of this medium sized shrub produces dense clusters of scarlet fruit that are irresistible to woodpeckers, robins, bluebirds and cedar waxwings.

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Crataegus spp.

This small to medium sized ornamental produces ¼” - ½” edible red fruits late summer/early fall that persist through the winter. Is a favorite late winter food source to robins, chickadees, mockingbirds and titmice.


TJ Nagel | Regional Manager, Russell Tree Experts

ISA Certified Arborist® OH-6298A // Graduated from The Ohio State University in 2012, Earned B.S. in Agriculture with a major in Landscape Horticulture and minor in Entomology // Tree Risk Assessment Qualified (TRAQ) // Russell Tree Experts Arborist Since 2010