Jul 17, 2019 | Featured Web Article

Vines for Birds

Native vines provide many things that birds need: nourishment, cover, housing, and mobility.
Share:

Native vines check off multiple boxes of what birds need: nourishment, cover, housing, and mobility. Their fruits and seeds make them great food resources, their knotty networks provide shelter from the elements and protection for active nests, and small birds like warblers, chickadees, and kinglets are known to use vine systems to safely move from the tops of trees to understory shrubbery, then down to ground level. The following list explores some native vine options to consider growing in your own backyard for maximum birdy benefits. Keep in mind that vines can be voracious in both growth and spread, but also know that vines that are allowed to climb over logs, stumps, and fences into large shrubs and trees are optimal for birdlife.

Creeper

Virginia Creeper

Thicket creeper and Virginia creeper are common, ornamental, and liked by dozens of bird species for their berries. You may sometimes see a nest built in the mature plants' dense tangles.

Passionflower

Passionflower

With its otherworldly blooms and extensive spread (up to 25 feet!), the passionflower vine is a Southeastern native that feeds the birds as well as caterpillars of several species of butterfly.

Poison Ivy

Poison ivy

Although it presents as a shrub in the western portion of North America, poison ivy thrives as a hardy, shaggy vine in the South and East. Thrushes, woodpeckers, and warblers ignore the warning of "leaves of three, let it be," and instead consume its whitish, stone-centered fruits.

American Bittersweet

American bittersweet

Known for the bold red arils that emerge from their dull orange capsules at maturity, bittersweet’s tiny brown seeds help nourish multiple bird species through the winter months.

Wild Cucumber

Wild cucumber

Its spiky fruit isn't edible, but each "cucumber" does contain two seed chambers holding two seeds each, which some birds will consume. Mice also eat the seeds, so owls can benefit from this vine being present in your backyard as well. Wild cucumber grows in thick tangles that provide wind cover in winter and nest protection for wrens, chats, and cuckoos during the breeding season.

Clematis

Purple clematis

This genus within the buttercup family gives gorgeous blooms as well as small winter fruits that many birds eat. Clematis vines may be perennial or annual depending on the species, and they, too, form tangles to provide cover for your avian backyard visitors.

Grape

Grape vine

Opt to grow native grapevines rather than cultivars, because 1) you won't be as likely to get a taste for the grape crop yourself, so that 2) you won't resent the birds and other wildlife that definitely will.



What do you think? Tell us!

comments powered by Disqus

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I live in Southeastern Massachusetts. Four "orphaned" very young poults (males) showed up in my yard about a year ago. They have been around all year. I do feed them cracked corn, and they come when I call for them. I don't want to over- domesticate them, but they do recognize me as the lady that brings food. They roost in the big oak trees at night. I have a 1 acre lot, with many acres of protected forest out back and a pond on the property.Lately, during mating season, I have had hens in the yard too. We've counted as many as 7 Toms and hens, but today, had just the one stalwart (a very robust Tom) that comes everyday. One of the Toms that has recently made an appearance is wounded, limping with an obvious predator wound. The local wildlife experts say he should make a full recovery, and that he's best left to recover with his flock.I find them to be interesting and beautiful birds.
    by Heather Cole, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • You have to put food in it.
    by Truckee Man, Mon, 06 Apr 2020
  • Love listeningto both songs and calls from birds in our woody neighborhood. The two types of birds I immediately recognize are the cardinals and the chickadees. Yesterday afternoon too, I heard a woodpecker. Then it’s time to check the birdfeeders and the birdbath. Then In no time at all the cardinals and chickadees arrive, as if they had been watching me. As it gets busier around the feeders, I also hear thé screeching of the blue jays. I even saw a couple of robins checking out our lawn....spring has arrived as the last pat gesofisticeerde snow and ice melt away.
    by louisabt, Sun, 08 Mar 2020
  • I am wondering about existing nests for Phoebes. I have two outdoor aisle entries to my barn and there are old Phoebe nests up. They ignore them each year and build new nests adjacent to the old, but space is running out. Should I knock down the old nests so they can rebuild?
    by [email protected], Sun, 02 Feb 2020
  • Just wondering, should we put anything in the bottom of the box...twigs, clippings, leaves....anything at all?
    by Hebb, Tue, 28 Jan 2020