The Blog

Native Plants for Nesting Birds

Welcome, nature enthusiasts and bird lovers alike! Today, we’re delving into the realm of native plants and their crucial role in providing nesting spots for our feathered friends here in North Carolina. At Mitchell’s Nursery, we’re passionate about fostering biodiversity, and there’s no better place to start than by exploring how native plants support our local bird populations. Join us as we uncover the myriad ways in which native plants serve as essential resources for birds to build their nests, creating vibrant ecosystems brimming with life and vitality. Below is a list of several of our favorite native plants for bird nesting, but there are so many more options out there!

 
 
 

1. Inkberry

Inkberry holly is a compact native shrub, with a max size of 3 by 3 feet. Its small, dark berries are edible to birds, and its dense foliage makes it a great spot for birds to hide their nest!

2. Viburnum

There are several varieties of NC native viburnum, including Brandywine and Spice Baby. Viburnum is a medium-sized deciduous shrub with a maximum height and width of 6 feet. With showy white flowers in the spring, berries in the summer, and gorgeous red leaves in the fall, Viburnum is an excellent addition to the garden for you and the birds!

3. Seviceberry

Common or downy serviceberry can grow to the height of 15 to 25 feet. Full sun to part shade is best.  Serviceberries, with their multi-branching habit, are excellent shrubs or small trees for nest sites and their berries ripen when nesting occurs, giving birds a convenient food source.

4. Grey Owl Juniper

Grey Owl Juniper is a great option for a native evergreen. It has a max height of 3 feet and a spread of up to 6 feet, and likes part to full sun. Grey Owl Juniper is a great native choice when looking for deer resistant shrubs. It has dense foliage perfect for bird nesting, and produces juniper berries for a bird food source!

5. Illicium Florida Sunshine

With a max height of 5 feet and width of 3-4 feet, this is a more upright shrub. Bright foliage year-round provides a great contrast to the darker greens in your landscape. Florida Sunshine Illicium prefers part shade and can scorch in the strong afternoon summer sun. Illicium has a wonderful anise scent, and birds enjoy its dense foliage for a safe nesting area.

6. Mock Orange

The Mock Orange is a deciduous shrub with a max size of 10 feet tall and 8 feet wide. It prefers full sun to part shade, and is a great choice for planting near a patio or deck to enjoy its fragrant blooms reminiscent of oranges. Mock Orange is a simple green shrub when not in bloom, but is a great choice for creating a bird habitat with its dense foliage and large size. 

7. Fothergilla Mount Airy

Fothergilla ‘Mount Airy’ is a dwarf deciduous shrub with showy flowers and gorgeous fall color. With a mature size of 3-5 feet tall and wide, it’s a good smaller shrub. 

8. Klondyke Azalea

There are several native azaleas, and Klondyke is one of our favorites! With its bright orange blooms and a mature size of 8 feet tall by 6 feet wide, it really is a showstopper! The Klondyke azalea is deciduous, with dense branches that make it an excellent nesting spot for birds.

Tips for Habitat Planting

  • Plant shrubs in clusters (“habitat circles”) to create the dense cover that birds prefer for nest protection.
  • Plant taller shrub species in close proximity to low-growing bushes to create a layered effect that will host multiple bird species.
  • Include food and water sources to maximize your bird-helping! Bird feeders and bird baths near the habitat plants will encourage birds to nest in the area.