Planting Trees To Attract Wildlife

 In Inexpensive Tree Care Blog

You can attract a wide variety of birds, butterflies, and wild critters to your yard by creating a an inviting landscape. Trees will be an essential part of this, because they provide many species with food, water, and shelter.

How Trees Benefit Wildlife

Food: Insects and animals will feed on the fruit, nuts, buds and sap that trees provide.

Water: When it rains, leaves will collect water for birds and squirrels to drink and bathe in.

Shelter: Thick branches and leaves provide shelter for insects, birds, and small animals during all seasons. Many bird species will build nests in the branches or drill holes and make homes in the trunks. Owls, squirrels, frogs and butterflies also make trees their home.

Three Basic Types of Trees for Wildlife

Native trees in the following categories will be a fantastic addition to any wildlife landscape.

Deciduous: These trees lose their broad leaves in the Fall, but in the Spring and Summer they are filled with buds, flowers, and berries that insects and animals love. Then, once the leaves have fallen, they provide a great source of ground food for ground-dwelling species. The best west-coast native deciduous trees for birds and other wildlife include maples, oaks, alders and willows.

Oak trees are known to attract caterpillars, which transform into beautiful butterflies, but also provide a nice snack for birds, squirrels, and deer.

Coniferous: Because evergreen trees keep their needles and scaled leaves all year, they make indispensable shelter for wildlife, especially in the cold Winter months. Birds and small animals will feed on the seeds from the cones. Native coniferous trees that are most popular among wildlife include firs, pines, cedars, hemlocks, spruces.

Douglas firs make up a large percentage of our forests (being our official state tree and all). A mature forest of Douglas Firs will attract hawks, swallows, woodpeckers, and owls (even bald eagles), as well as amphibians, reptiles and a long list of native mammals. Some eat the foliage, others eat the seeds, many use the trees as their home.

Fruit: Fruit trees fall under the deciduous category, but they deserve special mention because they’re so important for birds. The buds provide food in the Spring, flower blossoms attract insects for birds to eat, and lots of animals will eat the fruit. The best fruit trees for attractive wildlife include serviceberries, cherries, hollies and crabapples.

Serviceberry is more commonly kept as a shrub, but has been known to grow to tree-sized heights. In early Summer when the berries ripen, they won’t last long as nearby robins, mockingbirds, and cedar waxwings will come into your yard to devour them.

Tips for Choosing Trees

  • Choose native trees, which are most appropriate for your soil chemistry and regional climate. These species will be healthier, grow more quickly, and be more easily recognized by local wildlife.

  • To attract a variety of birds and animals, plant a variety of tree species from each category so that your yard can provide resources all year round.

  • When picking out trees at the nursery, choose the healthiest ones so they will transition well to your yard.  Anchor them well when planting and give them plenty of water.

By planting trees to provide an abundance of food, water and shelter for local wildlife, you will create a rich landscape, bustling with birds, butterflies and other critters.

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