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Plants for the Northeast that Attract Birds and Provide Cover

This region has great diversity and there are many choices of native species of trees and shrubs that flower and fruit, as well as evergreens within the zones of 2 to 7. Winters are severe, so fruits that persist through winter are critically important. Leaf litter from the many deciduous hardwoods provides many species with insect-foraging sites and should be incorporated into every backyard habitat.

Note: Many of the plantings of suitable for this area overlap with those of the Southeast, providing even more choices for the bird-minded gardener.


Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginia) Zones 3 - 9
Slow-growing evergreen to 50'. Offers cover and nesting sites as well as fruits to feed more than 50 species through the winter. Plant several since only females fruit.

Florida Dogwood (Cornus florida) Zones 5 - 8
Beautiful deciduous tree 3' - 10', widely spread over the eastern U.S. Spring flowers and fall foliage, with summer fruits that last through mid-fall that are highly to attractive to a wide variety of species. Fall migrants especially love especially the berries due to their high lipid content. Prefers rich, moist, well-drained soils.

Eastern White Pine (Pinus strobus) Zones 3 - 8
Large, fast-growing conifer to 100', easily pruned to dense structure perfect for cover. Provides food in winter for many species. Ideal landscaping or specimen plant, best in full sun.


American Highbush Cranberry (Virbunum tribolium) Zones 2 - 8
Deciduous shrub to 12' and 6' to 8' wide. White flowers in spring, red foliage in fall. Abundant red berries late summer last throughout winter feed many species. Does better planted in multiples. Excellent hedgerow.

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) Zones 4 - 9
Abundant, fat red berries that ripen late summer or fall that last into winter. Many-stemmed deciduous shrub 5' to 15' offers beautiful contrast to winter gardens and attracts many species. Prefers moist soil and needs several to flourish.

Northern Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica) Zones 2 - 9
Semi-evergreen to deciduous shrub to 6 ft. Fragrant fruits in clusters against the branches appear in late summer, persist through winter, and provide food for spring migrants. Likes full sun/partial shade and dry, sandy soil, but will tolerate moist fertile soil.


American Bittersweet - NOT Oriental (Celastrus scandens) Zones 2 - 8
Deciduous vine to 60'. Thornless, with bright orange to red berries that burst open in fall to feed many species. Grows well on trellis or stone walls, fences, or on the ground to control erosion.

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uvaursi) Zones 2 - 8
Evergreen to 12". Excellent shelter from strong winds. Pinkish-white flowers in summer followed by red berries that last through winter.

Additional resources 

USDA Plant Database.

Aggie Horticulture - Texas A&M University.