Birds depend on plants and flowers as sources of shelter, nesting material and food, according to the University of Georgia Extension's former horticulture specialist Mel Garber. Trees and shrubs with multiple stems create canopies for nesting and shelter from predators. Many flowering plants also supply birds with nectar, fruit or seeds. With some planning, gardeners can find ornamental plants that beautify their landscapes while meeitng the needs of their local birds.
More than 30 bird species, including cardinals, scarlet tanagers and mockingbirds, depend on highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) for food, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. This densely-twigged shrub, standing up to 12 feet high, also provides birds with excellent coverage. Gardeners adding it to their landscapes benefit from leaves that change from spring's greenish-red to summer's greenish-blue and fall’s variegated purple, yellow, red or orange. Highbush blueberry has spring clusters of pinkish-white, bell-shaped blooms. Summer sees its berries emerge green, becoming pink, lavender and smoky blue. Handling moist or dry locations in sun or shade, highbush blueberry likes acidic (pH below 6.8) soil.
Evergreen wax myrtle (Morella cerifera) will provide birds with fall cover when they come to feed on its pale blue berries. This 6-to-12-foot shrub has spicily aromatic, olive-green leaves. Early spring clusters of green flowers occur on both male and female plants. Both are required for berry-producing pollination, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Tolerant of locations near pavement, wax myrtle makes an attractive landscape screen or hedge. It performs best in moist to wet, acidic or neutral (pH between 6.8 and 7.2) soil.
Gardeners appreciate American holly tree (Ilex opaca) for the glossy, evergreen leaves and brilliant red berries that find their way into so many year-end holiday decorations. The berries are also an important fall and winter food for both birds and small mammals. Holly's foliage provides winter cover. Its twigs are nesting material. Whether trees or shrubs, all American holly varieties like well-drained, moist locations. They perform best in acidic, sandy or loamy soil and suffer in clay. Note that their berries are toxic to people.
Nectar-feeding birds have great color vision but a poorly developed sense of smell, according to the United States Forest Service. They flock to brightly colored, unscented plants like cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis). This 1-to-8-foot perennial's upright stems have 8-inch spires of tubular, May-to-October blooms. Their brilliant red color against deep green leaves makes this plant a garden showstopper. Cardinal flower relies on regular visits from hummingbirds for pollination, according to the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. It grows in full sun and moist, humusy soil.