Bird-Friendly Native Plants

Black-capped chickadee on snowy branch

Black-capped Chickadee


Birds need food, water, shelter, nesting sites and roosting sites.  Using native plants to provide bird habitat requires considering what birds need and selecting plants that appeal to both you and the birds. Even small gardens can provide birds with food and shelter.



  • provide plants that attract insects for birds especially during the breeding season
  • use plants that offer birds food all season long
  • provide habitat for winter as well as summer – birds have different needs at different times of the year
  • plant brightly colored, tubular flowers to provide food for hummingbirds
  • create dense thickets (at least 8 feet thick) for shelter and nesting sites
  • create layers of vegetation – low for ground nesters, shrubs for small birds and trees for birds that roost and nest in them
  • use a diverse palette of plants to appeal to many birds
  • provide clean water – usually in a protected spot so birds feel safe
  • avoid pesticides (that kill birds) and letting the birds do the job for you
medium sized bird with scarlet head, yellow breast and black wings on limb of pine tree

Western Tanager


Look around you and identify the birds that are present in your yard or neighborhood. Research what habitats these birds prefer and add plants or features to your landscape that will appeal to them. To attract a broader diversity of birds, use a diverse palette of native plants arranged in plant communities that are appropriate for birds.


(click for more information on each species)

baby robins in nest with yellow mouths open wide

baby robins

blue elderberry (Sambucus cerulea)
golden currant (Ribes aureum)
mockorange (Philadelphus lewisii)
mountain big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata)
rubber rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa)
serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia)

mountain bluebird on fence post

Mountain Bluebird




arrowleaf balsamroot (Balsamorhiza sagittata)
blanket flower (Gaillardia aristata)
creeping Oregon grape (Mahonia repens)
firecracker penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
fuzzy-tongue penstemon (Penstemon eriantherus)
heart-leaf arnica (Arnica cordifolia)
nettleleaf horsemint (Agastache urticifolia)
Oregon Sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum)
purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)
scarlet gilia (Ipomopsis aggregata)
showy fleabane (Erigeron speciosus)
sulfur buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum)
western white clematis (Clematis ligusticifolia)
wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

Sparrow facing front among grasses

Lincoln’s Sparrow

bluebunch wheatgrass (Pseudoroegneria spicata)
Idaho fescue (Festuca idahoensis)
indian ricegrass (Achnatherum hymenoides)
little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)
prairie junegrass (Koeleria macrantha)