Gardening for Birds

You can make your garden a welcoming place for birds by taking into account the need for food, water, cover, and nesting sites. As you return to the garden this spring, consider planting for the birds. Choose native plants when possible. They require less water and fertilizer, are more resistant to predators and disease, and are an excellent supply of food and shelter for birds. Many songbirds eat berries, and hummingbirds appreciate nectar-bearing flowers. For information on native plants that are good for birds, see the chart below.  When planting, think vertical. Garden in layers and provide trees, shrubs, native grasses, and ground cover. Birds will make use of brush piles and snags for cover and nesting sites. If possible, conserve water by using drip irrigation and collecting rainwater. Water your gardens early in the morning to minimize loss through evaporation.

For a bird-friendly garden, do not use chemical herbicides and pesticides. These can be harmful to birds and their food sources as well as other animals, particularly amphibians. Mulch inhibits the spread of weeds and manual removal methods are effective. For non-chemical alternatives, see:

Supplemental feeding is a great way to attract birds to your yard. Keep feeders and birdbaths clean. Clear food waste and droppings from around the feeder area. Discard food that is wet, moldy, or musty. Disinfect your feeders with one part liquid chlorine household bleach in nine parts of tepid water.

A birdbath with moving water or spray is especially attractive to birds but just a shallow bowl does the trick. To create a butterfly “puddling” area, fill a pie pan with gravel and water.


Native Bird Food Plant Species of the Willamette Valley, Oregon

compiled by Bruce Newhouse; many records from Oregon Birders Online; draft 10 July 2004

Common Name Latin Name
Alder, Red Alnus rubra
Alder, White Alnus rhombifolia
Ash, Oregon Fraxinus latifolia
Cattails Typha latifolia
Chinkapin Chrysolepis chrysophylla
Douglas-fir Pseudotsuga menziesii var. menziesii
Hazel, California Corylus cornuta var. californica
Madrone, Pacific Arbutus menziesii
Maple, Bigleaf Acer macrophyllum
Oak, California Black Quercus kelloggii
Oak, Oregon White Quercus garryana var. garryana
Thistle, Short-styled Cirsium brevistylum
Thistle, Mountain Cirsium callilepis
Thistle, Edible Cirsium edule
Blackberry, trailing Rubus ursinus
Blackcap R. leucodermis
Cascara Rhamnus purshiana
Crabapple, Pacific Malus fusca
Dogwood, Pacific Cornus nuttallii
Elderberry, Blue Sambucus mexicana
Elderberry, Red Sambucus racemosa var. arborescens
Hawthorn, Suksdorf's Crataegus douglasii
Huckleberry, Red Vaccinium parvifolium
Mistletoe, Oak Phoradendron villosum
Oregongrape, Tall Berberis aquifolium
Osoberry Oemleria cerasiformis
Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis
Serviceberry, Pacific Amelanchier alnifolia
Strawberry, Broadpetal Fragaria virginiana ssp. platypetala
Strawberry, Woods Fragaria vesca
Twinberry, Black Lonicera involucrata
NECTAR (hummingbirds)
Native to Southern Willamette Valley
Cascara Rhamnus purshiana
Cherry, Bitter Prunus emarginata
Chokecherry Prunus virginiana
Columbine, Red Aquilegia formosa
Cottonwood, Black Populus balsamifera ssp. trichocarpa
Currant, Red-flowering Ribes sanguineum
Currants, Straggly Ribes divaricatum
Dogwood, Creek Cornus sericea
Dogwood, Pacific Cornus nuttallii
Fireweed Chamerion angustifolium
Heart, Bleeding Dicentra formosa
Hedgenettle, Cooley's Stachys cooleyae
Honeysuckle Lonicera ciliosa (orange); L. hispida (pink)
Huckleberry, Red Vaccinium parvifolium
Larkspur, Tall Delphinium trolliifolium
Lily, Tiger Lilium columbianum
Madrone, Pacific Arbutus menziesii
Manzanita, Hairy Arctostaphylos columbiana
Manzanita, Greenleaf Arctostaphylos patula
Maple, Bigleaf Acer macrophyllum
Mint, Field Mentha arvensis var. canadensis
Monkeyflower, Yellow Mimulus guttatus
Monkeyflower, Scarlet Mimulus cardinalis
Oregongrape, Tall Berberis aquilinum
Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis
Snowberry Symphoricarpos albus
Twinberry, Black Lonicera involucrata
Willow, Hooker's Salix hookeriana
Willow, Pacific Salix. lucida ssp. lasiandra
Willow, Scouler's Salix scouleriana
Willow, Sitka Salix sitchensis