Adding to Your Bird Habitat? Think Junipers!

A habitat consists of the combination of food, water, shelter, and space arranged to meet the needs of wildlife, or in our case birds. Planning is necessary for an attractive and productive habitat, and trees and shrubs are the backbone of any landscaping design important for shelter. Many tree and shrub species are also excellent sources of food, and proper selection of plant material can meet both the aesthetic needs of the homeowner as well as the food and shelter needs of birds.

I read recently that junipers are a must have for birding habitats and in any location. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation calls them “tough trees for tough times” and credits them for giving birds a boost during the winter months by providing a rich supply of food and shelter from harsh winds and cold temperatures. Junipers are a top ten plant for wildlife in that even one juniper in the yard will help birds greatly.

And, junipers are rugged and easy to care for, making them desirable to the human population as well. Able to grow in poor soil, their ornamental shapes and foliage are attractive as a garden asset.  Just imagine splashes of blue against a snow white winter background!  Grow junipers as a shrub or a tree and look for blooms in the spring.

The berries might not be very tasty, as birds tend to ignore them in the fall. However, in winter, when food is scarce and birds become less finicky, the juniper berries can become very popular.

Plant a juniper in your yard and look for these bird species:

  • Bluebirds
  • Grosbeaks
  • Jays
  • Mockingbirds
  • Robins
  • Sapsuckers and Woodpeckers
  • Thrushes
  • Thrashers
  • Warblers
  • Waxwings

We have natural junipers on our property in the mountains in New Mexico. They are a hardy plant at 7600’ in altitude with harsh winters, and we enjoy jays, robins, and woodpeckers year round.  During migration, they attract grosbeaks.

Check with a local nursery to determine if junipers are suitable for your area. If so, then what are you waiting for?