A great advantage of having trees on your property, in addition to providing beauty and enhancing the value, is that they can attract all types of birds. And this will have benefits beyond birdwatching. With the right types of trees, you can help save threatened and endangered species in your own backyard.
There are many birds in Oregon that are endangered, threatened, or at risk of becoming threatened. The reasons these bird species are experiencing significant population decline include the loss of their habitats and invading plants and animals. The best way to help these birds is to enhance habitat wherever you can, with trees that provide food, water, shelter, and potentially even nesting.
Read on below to find out more about the best trees to attract these birds to your yard.
Overall, native trees are the best trees to attract locally threatened and endangered birds. First of all, birds will recognize them. Plus, the trees will grow faster and be healthier because they thrive in the regional soil and climate. They will even attract the native insects that birds eat.
Also keep in mind that certain invasive, non-native plants, such as English ivy and Himalayan blackberry, can actually destroy native habitat.
To attract a wider range of birds, you should have a variety of tree species and trees in different heights and shapes. Group the same tree species together with those that will grow the tallest at the edge of your property.
Conifers trees include firs, hemlocks, pines, and spruces. Because their needles and scaled leaves stay on year-round, they are the best trees to attract birds that require shelter in the winter. They also attract many birds that can feed on the seeds from their cones.
Douglas firs and western hemlocks attract two of Portland’s most imperiled birds: marbled murrelets and northern spotted owls. Both birds depend on old- and mature-growth forests and have lost much of their habitats to practices such as excessive logging.
The only tree-nesting bird in the Alcid family, marbled murrelets were recently reclassified as endangered after being listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act since 1992. Instead of building nests, these birds lay their eggs in large tree branches with natural depressions and moss. Only old and mature growth conifers have branches large enough for this nesting.
Northern spotted owls have been listed under the Endangered Species Act since 1990 and are at risk of extinction. In addition to habitat loss, they are now threatened by completion with barred owls, which are native to the eastern U.S. but have made their way into the Pacific Northwest. Other trees that can attract northern spotted owls are grand firs, ponderosa pines, and incense cedars.
Douglas firs are rapidly growing trees that tolerate full sun. They attract birds that eat their needles and seeds and are a significant nesting habitat for many species. Douglas firs and ponderosa pines attract birds experiencing population declines, such as Cassin’s finches and flammulated owls.
Sitka spruce trees attract peregrine falcons that can nest in their roots. Though peregrine falcons are no longer endangered, thanks to the efforts of the Audubon Society of Portland, it’s still important to provide for them so their population doesn’t significantly decrease again.
Deciduous trees may lose their leaves in the fall, but they have buds, flowers, and berries in the spring and summer that attract birds. This includes fruit trees, which are a significant food source for birds.
Bitter cherry trees, also known as Oregon cherry trees, produce white flowers and a bitter red fruit that is a favorite of many birds, including band-tailed pigeons and mourning doves.
Oregon white oak trees are great for attracting many birds. Thanks to their broad leaves and large branches, they are one of the strongest deciduous trees for shelter. The small acorns they produce are an important food source for birds. And they attract caterpillars for the birds to eat.
Pacific dogwood produces orange to red berries that attract birds such as evening grosbeaks.
Other trees that can attract birds include red alder, red elderberry, and serviceberry.
In addition to trees, you can add other items to your yard to provide for birds. Artificial nest boxes are an alternative for natural nesting sites. To make sure the birds get fresh water, add a birdbath. The birdbath should be shallow, with ½ to 1 inch of water, and it’s recommended to change the water every other day. And while the natural food provided by trees is best, you can also add bird feeders. Be sure to clean them once a week with a 10 percent bleach solution.
Keep the birds’ safety in mind as well. Reduce the use of pesticides and fertilizers. Planting native trees should mean that you don’t need to use these as much anyway. Be careful of windows as window strikes are a major cause of bird deaths. If you are using bird feeders, either place them within 3 feet of or about 30 feet away from windows. Hanging Mylar tape strips from the top of the window can help. Also, if you have any house cats, try to keep them inside as much as possible.
Once you have the best trees to attract birds on your property, remember that they will need proper maintenance. Contact us at Mr. Tree, Inc. for all your tree service needs. Keeping up with trimming and pruning will ensure your trees stay healthy so they can continue to provide the best for the birds.
If you have questions or concerns about your trees, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our professional arborists have the experience and expertise to give you advice on any situation.