If you plant it, birds and their pals will come

How to attract birds, bats, bees and butterflies to your yard

Plant Native Trees & Shrubs to Attract Birds and Other Friends

One of my family’s greatest year-round pleasures is watching and hearing the birds around our home. The color and movement of songbirds at the feeder is especially welcome during the winter months, when the rest of the landscape is relatively bare and still. And listening to the song of the black-capped chickadees while tending the garden on an early summer’s morning is absolutely sublime. For the past few summers we’ve also been blessed with a barn full of bats that keep our mosquito populations down, a plethora of bees that pollinate our apple trees and blueberry bushes, and many varieties of brilliant butterflies that dance all over the perennial beds.

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There are dozens of excellent resources with hints about attracting friendly critters to your yard (see a few below). In this article we are going to focus specifically on the native trees and shrubs for New Hampshire that we like for providing nesting, roosting or foraging opportunities for B-scaping, that is landscaping for birds, bats, bees and butterflies.

Native trees and shrubs naturally occur in the region in which they evolved, over time adapting to local soil, rainfall and temperature conditions, as well as developing natural defenses to many insects and diseases. These traits often allow native trees and shrubs to grow with minimal use of water, fertilizers and pesticides, an economical and ecological benefit for all involved. And most importantly for B-scaping your yard, animal species evolve along with plants using indigenous plant communities as their habitat. Thus, planting native trees and shrubs helps to preserve the balance and beauty of natural ecosystems, while simultaneously providing you with the excitement and entertainment of birds, bats, bees and butterflies.

The US Fish and Wildlife Service suggests planting a yard in layers to mimic the natural habitat of the forest. Choose a variety of sizes and species from our list of native recommendations or contact our Consulting Arborist Tim Bergquist for a personal B-scaping evaluation of your property.

Tall Trees

Maples (Red, Silver, Sugar)

Birches (White, Paper, Yellow)

White ash

Oaks (White, Pin, Bur, Northern Red)

Aspens (Big-toothed, Quaking)

Black cherry

Balsam fir

Spruce (White, Red)

Eastern White pine

Northern White cedar

Eastern hemlock (locally grown only)

Tamarack (Eastern larch)


Shorter & Understory Trees

American beech

American hornbeam


Striped & Mountain maple


Dogwood (Pagoda, Silky, Flowering zone 5)

Serviceberry (Apple, Downy, Allegheny, Shadblow)

American hazelnut

Pussy willow

Common witchhazel

Hop-hornbeam (aka Ironwood)

Viburnum (Nannyberry, Blackhaw)




Redosier dogwood

Black chokeberry

Viburnum (Mapleleaf, Witherod, Arrowwood, Cranberrybush)

Mountain cranberry

Sumac (Fragrant, Shining, Smooth, Staghorn)


Blueberry (Lowbush, Highbush)



Perennials, grasses, vines and groundcovers are also important components of landscaping for the Bs.  

Other tips for successful B-scaping:

  • Provide a birdbath or other small water source, changing the water every couple of days to prevent mosquito breeding

  • Hang feeders (take down in the spring if bears are a problem)

  • Put out spoiled fruit

  • Hang nesting boxes for various species

  • Compost garden and kitchen waste to increase insect populations for bird and bat food

  • Practice tolerance of wildlife needs; untidy areas, share your berries in season

  • Keep your cat in at dawn and dusk and fit him or her with a warning bell

  • Minimize potential harm to birds, bats and beneficial insects by using pesticides only when absolutely necessary and by using them properly, choosing natural or organic products first

  • Leave wild “buffer” areas of native plants along ravines, streams, shorelines and fence lines

Sources: www.nwf.org/How-to-Help/Garden-for-Wildlife.aspx  
 http://athome.audubon.org/yard  ●  www.epa.gov/wastes/conserve/tools/greenscapes/owners.htm  ●  www.windstar.org/  ●   www.wildflower.org

The blog is written Mundy Wilson Piper, Owner & General Manager, Chippers Inc and sponsored by Chippers, Inc. 

Visit chippersinc.com for more information or email gardens@chippersinc.com.


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