Birdwatching is a hobby that many nature lovers enjoy. Your property attracts different species of birds during various seasons, depending on migratory patterns. During the cold winter months, birds seek natural sources of shelter and food, and you can provide both with carefully selected plantings in your outdoor areas.

Birds look for the three things they need to survive during the winter: water, food, and cover. While most gardens can offer these in the summer, the increasing loss of habitat makes it more difficult for birds to survive the winter.

Let’s look at the three plants you can use to attract birds during the winter!

Picea (Spruce)

Picea, also commonly named Spruce, produce seed-bearing cones in the fall and winter that draw various birds, particularly chickadees, grosbeaks, woodpeckers, and nuthatches. Birds prefer spruces because they have strong, rigid branches that shield them from weather elements and predators.

These evergreen coniferous shrubs and trees provide year-round cover and nesting places. Some spruce trees can grow up to 60 feet tall.

Viburnum dentatum ‘Synnestvedt’ (Chicago Lustre Arrowwood)

This shrub gives any landscape a good amount of seasonal interest. Late spring sees the emergence of creamy white blooms that are gathered into elegant flat-topped clusters. 

Drupes that resemble blue-black berries follow the flowers in the summer and fully ripen in the early fall. 

The glossy, dark-green leaves also develop gorgeous fall hues of golden, glossy red, or reddish-purple as autumn progresses.

A variety of species, including woodpeckers, mockingbirds, finches, bluebirds, robins, grosbeaks, and thrushes, are drawn to the fall berries that last into the winter. These deciduous plants can offer cover and places to build nests.

Ilex verticillata (Winterberry Holly)

The adaptable winterberry holly, which is native to the eastern portion of the United States, adds a splash of seasonal color and has beautiful red berry sprays to adorn your yard.

As a deciduous holly, it sheds its leaves in the autumn. Birds ignore the red or orange berries covering the barren branches until about January, when other food sources become sparse. 

This simple-to-grow shrub enjoys damp ground. It attracts a wide range of birds, including mockingbirds, wild turkeys, and cedar waxwings.

For berries, you’ll need both male and female plants. This fruit is poisonous to pets and inedible to humans.


Bird habitats have shrunk over time as human populations have grown. It’s getting harder for migratory birds to find the foods they’re used to. Finding water and safe areas with lots of trees and sites for nesting are major concerns as well.

However, your yard has the potential to be a favorite refuge and feeding spot for birds. These plants will help you draw in various feathered friends that are good for your garden if you plan to grow some that draw birds in your backyard during the winter.

Reach out to us to learn more about how you can grow these plants in your backyard or garden!

About The NL Group

The NL Group is a premier landscaping and design firm in Barrington, Illinois dedicated to providing excellence in landscape management for homeowners throughout the northwest suburbs of Chicago. Let us turn your outdoor kitchen dream into reality.  Contact us today!