Plants for the Pacific Coast that Attract Birds

This region includes a wide range of climates, soils, and moisture conditions. It ranges from the cool, wet, rain forests of the Northwest coast and Alaska to southern-most California and its dry, Mediterranean-like climate. Although some of the region falls into zones 2 through 7, and much of the region lies in zones 7, 8 and 9, the majority of the region is zones 8 and 9.

While resident species of the north rely on conifers and fruiting shrubs to survive the harsh winters, the abundant hummingbirds to the south count on flowering shrubs and vines found in many backyards.

Note: Many of the plantings listed in the Mountains and Desert Region designated zones 8 and 9 will also do well here.

 

evening grosbeak

Evening grosbeaks are common feeder visitors in the Pacific northwest, although populations seem to be falling.

Trees:

White Fir (Abies concolor) Zone 4
Evergreen to 30'- 50'. Provides important cover and nesting sites in backyard habitats; cones offer food. Will take sun, shade, and dry or moist, well-drained soil.

Toyon, California Holly, Christmas Berry (Heteromeles arbutifolia) Zones 8 - 10
Evergreen to 35', more common 6'- 10'. Bright, orange-red berries ripen mid to late winter. Important winter food source for many resident species. Prefers fertile soil.

Giant Arborvitae (Thuja plicata) Zones 7 - 10
Evergreen to 50' - 70'. Abundant nesting sites. Attract many insects. Slow-growing; takes 70 years to bear fruits, but lives 200+ years. Very useful when pruned into tall hedges.

Western, Fremont Cottonwood (Populus fremontii) Zones 7 - 10
Deciduous to 90'. Many western species depend on this tree for the fruit of its catkins and the many insects it attracts. Needs adequate moisture until well-established.

Mountain Dogwood (Cornus nutalii) Zones 8 - 9
Beautiful cultivated, deciduous tree. Grows to 40', with yellow-green flowers, followed by bright red fruit drupes and burgundy foliage in fall. Fruits ripen to feed fall migrants.

Shrubs:

Oregon Grape Holly (Mahonia aquilifolium) Zones 6 to 9
Evergreen to 1' to 6'. White flowers in spring, followed by black fruit in fall that attracts many species. Leaf color changes from purple in spring, to green in summer, and red in fall. Prefers part shade/shad and fertile, well-drained soil.

Manzanita (Arctasphylos species) Zones 4 - 9
Common, low-growing, western shrub with almost 50 varieties. Red berries from summer to fall attract many western species. Drought-tolerant and adaptable to many soil types.

Twinberry, Twinline Honeysuckle (Lonicera involucrata) Zones 4 - 10
Deciduous shrub to 2' to 3' that attracts many hummingbird species to yellow, funnel-shaped flowers. Blackish berries attract many fruit-eating species. Tolerant of most soils, but prefers moist, well-drained soil.

Red Sage, Autumn Sage (Salvia greggii) Zones 8 - 9
Evergreen to 2' to 3'. Magenta, 1" long flowers bloom in spring, slow down in summer, re-bloom in fall for long growing period. Likes partial shade. Frost tender in zone 8.

Desert Honeysuckle, Flame Flower (Aniscanthus thurberi) Zones 8 - 10
A favorite of western hummingbirds. Upright 2' to 6'. Drought-tolerant and adaptable to many soils.

Vines/Groundcovers:

California Grape, Wild Grape (Vitus california) Zones 7 - 10
Tall-growing vine with purple berries from summer through fall that are a favorite of many western species. Likes sun and moist soil.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) Zones 2 - 7
Deciduous perennial 4" to 6". Late spring to green and white flowers followed by red berries in summer. A favorite of ground-feeding birds for its fruit as well as the insects it attracts.

Perennials:

Cardinal Flower (Lobelia cardinalis) Zones 7 - 10
Wildflower, 2' to 3' feet tall with 1 in. long, tubular flowers from July to October. Hummingbird favorite.

Common Beardstongue (Penstemon barbatus) Zones 3 - 8
Upright to 1' to 3' in several colors. Prefers sun and well-drained soil. Needs watering until well-established. Hummingbird favorite.

Additional information: 

USDA Plant Database.

Aggie Horticulture by Texas A&M University.