Antioxidants are an important part of a bird’s diet, helping them to endure long periods of physical activity. Berries are a particularly good source of antioxidants for birds. Those with the highest levels are ideal, though those with lower levels are important too, providing birds with winter food when their preferred berries are unavailable.
Take a look at 10 berried plants to try growing for birds on your plot.
Non-native Berberis provides attractive fruits from summer to autumn and have a moderate antioxidant content. Particularly attractive to thrushes and blackbirds.
Bright-red elongate berries of Berberis
Dogwood (Cornus sp.)
The black fruits of the dogwood (Cornus sp.) appear in autumn and have a high antioxidant content. Finches and thrushes love to pay a visit.
Red branches of dogwood, without leaves
Robins, blackcaps and bullfinches are regular visitors to cotoneasters in autumn, when the berries, though low in antioxidants, provide a long-lasting treat.
Round red berries of cotoneaster
Another berry with high antioxidant content, both native and non-native hawthorn species fruit in autumn and are a favorite of waxwings and blackbirds.
Deep-red hawthorn berries
Ivy berries don’t contain as much in the way of antioxidants, but are very long lasting and an important winter food source for redwings, bullfinches and blackbirds.
Ivy growing up a frame
Attract greenfinches and waxwings to your garden by planting holly. The berries are long lasting and provide good winter colour.
Glossy, spiky holly leaves and clusters of bright red berries
Robins, song thrushes and blackbirds love the glossy red berries of honeysuckle, which are produced after flowering, from late-summer to autumn.
Cream and yellow honeysuckle blooms
Though Parthenocissus berries are low in antioxidants, they’re long lasting and will attract blackcaps and mistle thrushes to your garden.
Red and green Parthenocissus leaves
For rose hips to be produced, leave spent flowers on the plant and wait for autumn. The burnet rose (Rosa spinosissima) has some of the best antioxidant levels and attracts waxwings and blackbirds.
Brick-red hips of a rose
Rowan berries are produced in their masses in autumn. They make up for low antioxidant levels by providing a long lasting food source for blackcaps, finches, song thrushes and waxwings.
A mass of red rowan berries
Kate Bradbury says
Grow as many berried plants as you can squeeze into your garden. These plants provide a reliable, perennial crop of food that’s essential to birds’ welfare – and it’s a much cheaper way to help birds than buying expensive bird food.