6 Trees and Shrubs That Attract Wildlife to Your Landscape - Backyard Boss
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6 Trees and Shrubs That Attract Wildlife to Your Landscape

Dedicating yard space to plants and trees that attract wildlife is a valuable way to restore natural habitats, support local biodiversity, and elevate your landscape design all at once. There are so many colorful trees and fruit-filled shrubs that offer nesting areas, shelter, and food for wild animals. 

Learn about six trees and shrubs that will attract birds, mammals, and all sorts of small critters to your backyard throughout the year!

Trees to Attract Wildlife

No matter if they’re tall or small, trees are the resting and nesting spots for many birds and mammals. They also offer diverse food sources throughout much of the year for both small and large creatures alike. Here are three species of trees to add to your backyard that will draw in wildlife!

1. Balsam Fir

Balsam fir
Image credits: sheilasseed via PIxabay

The Balsam fir (Abies balsameais an evergreen tree that grows well in colder climates (zones 3 to 5). It has dark green needles and develops large pine cones every two to four years. This is a large tree that can reach up to 75 feet tall and 25 feet wide at full maturity.

The seeds on the Balsam fir are a favorite for birds such as grouse and finches, small mammals like squirrels, and rodents including voles and mice. The branches of this tree make for great nesting sites that attract robins and mourning doves.

Deer and moose like to graze on the branches, while black bears strip the bark. Beavers occasionally may collect wood from this tree to build their dams.

2. Yellow Birch 

Yellow birch
Image credits: Francesco Ungaro via Pexels

Yellow birches (Betula alleghaniensisare large hardwood trees that grow in cold to moderate climates (hardiness zones 3 to 7) and are easily identified by their white or silver bark that peels off in curly pieces. They showcase a beautiful arrangement of yellow leaves in the fall and can grow up to 80 feet tall. Interestingly, their stems can develop a strong, wintergreen scent. 

Both the buds and seeds of these trees are eaten by birds including goldfinches, juncos, and chickadees. These species are also known to build nests within this tree. Snowshoe hare, white-tailed deer, and moose like to eat the twigs and small branches of yellow birches, while beavers and porcupines may come by to chew on the bark. 

3. Sargent Crabapple

garden pink flower crabapples
Image credits: jeanneg9 via morguefile

The Sargent crabapple (Malus Sargentiiis a dense tree with many zigzagging branches and clusters of beautiful white and pink flowers. It develops bright red fruit in the fall and grows in moderate to warm climates (zones 4 to 8). This variety of crabapple tree grows slowly, reaching 10 feet in height and 12 feet wide at most. 

The flowers of this crabapple tree offer sweet and fulfilling nectar to butterflies and bees. Birds like cedar waxwings, robins, and mockingbirds, favor the small fruit. Red-necked pheasant, cottontail rabbit, red fox, and black bears also like to grab a bite to eat from this tree. Birds and small mammals appreciate its dense, protective foliage that offers shelter from harsh weather and predators as well.

Shrubs to Attract Wildlife

There are plenty of species of shrubs that are a favorite for wildlife, as they offer valuable food sources and nesting sites. These three shrubs are excellent options to plant if you’re looking to welcome wildlife to your landscape, especially during the summer season.

1. American Elderberry

Elderberry berries
Image credits: Manfred Richter via Pixabay

The American elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is a bush which grows quickly in moderate to hot climates (zones 4 through 9). It’s filled with cream-colored, star-shaped flowers and develops dark purple berries from August to September. Elderberry bushes can grow quite large, up to 12 feet at full maturity.

Elderberry fruit is a favorite of many species of birds including robins and catbirds. The long branches and large leaves on this shrub create a protective canopy, which is why birds will often choose this bush to create nesting sites. Deer, bears, and elk also enjoy grazing on these sweet, summer berries.

2. Arrowwood Viburnum

Arrowwood shrub
Image credits: Jacques Gaimard via Pixabay

Arrowwood viburnum (Viburnum dentatumis a round and dense shrub with small, white flowers that bloom through spring and summer in cold and warm climates (zones 3 to 8). It also has dark green leaves that change to deep red in the fall. In addition to the leaves changing, the fall also invites blue-black berries to ripen at this time. These shrubs grow between 6 and 15 feet high.

This variety of Arrowwood has thickly condensed branches that many birds like cardinals and robins, appreciate for their nesting needs. Additionally, wild turkey, deer, skunks, rabbits, and mice also enjoy eating the berries on this bush, while deer and beavers munch on the leaves. Hummingbirds and butterflies, such as Red Admiral and Eastern Comma, also visit this tree to obtain rich sources of nectar during peak blooming season.

3. ‘Bluecrop’ Blueberry 

Blueberry bush
Image credits: Teodor via Pixabay

‘Bluecrop’ blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosumare a cultivar of highbush blueberries. These shrubs are densely packed with white flowers in the spring and 10 to 20 pounds of tart berries per bush growing every July. They grow best in moderate to warm climates (zones 4 to 8), reaching up to 6 feet in height and 4 feet in width at peak maturity.

Bees are attracted to blueberry bushes because of their sweet, nectar-filled flowers. White-tailed deer and cottontail rabbits also like to graze on the leaves and twigs of this shrub. The berries are enjoyed by birds such as bluebirds, cardinals, mockingbirds, and mourning doves. In addition, red foxes, white-footed mice, skunks, chipmunks, and black bears get valuable nourishment from these berries.

The Wildlife Awaits

Planting trees and shrubs that attract wildlife is a beautiful way to add some woodland wonder to your landscape. In addition, you’ll be able to provide new habitats and food sources for all sorts of animals. These six trees and shrubs are valuable options to add to your property if you’re looking to attract and support your local biodiversity!

Let the wildlife watch begin! What animals have you spotted in your backyard recently? Share your stories in the comments below.