Landscaping for the birds in Brainerd Lakes Country?
you think of attracting birds to your yard, what comes
to mind is enticing these creatures with a variety of
feeders and different kinds of seed. And, most experts
will also recommend adding a source of water
such as a bird bath or pond. Did you know, however,
that many landscape plants might be more important than
feeders? Trees, shrubs and flowers provide not only
food, but also shelter and nesting areas. Following
are some of the landscape plants that have been used
successfully in the Brainerd Lakes area to attract a
variety of birds from the tiny hummingbird to
the gargantuan pileated woodpecker..
Many of the flowering crabapples do a great job of
providing food for robins, waxwings and if you are lucky,
evening grosbeaks or the white winged crossbill. Best
of all they are very hardy, provide wonderful spring
color with their blooms, as well as colorful fruit through
the winter. Our two favorites are the Red Jade Crabapple
(Malus Red Jade) and the Red Splendor Crabapple
(Malus Red Splendor).
Another small tree or very large shrub that works wonders
is the Pagoda Dogwood (Cornus alternifolia). It does
just fine in shady areas but the dark blue fruit doesnt
last long. We have frequently watched the frenzied competition
between the catbirds and robins, and occasionally we
might see a bluebird or woodpecker trying to get in
on the action. It has a nice early season bloom and
equally nice fall color.
The Shadblow Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)
is another large dandy shrub or small tree that provides
fruit that drives the birds crazy. Another benefit is
that its leaves turn a magnificent scarlet to red in
The common Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis) is one
of the easiest shrubs to grow. The fruit not only attracts
robins and catbirds, but many more. Prepare to duck
as the birds flock to this favorite. If you are planning
to make elderberry wine you had better move fast as
the competition will be extreme.
A small native tree in Minnesota that attracts over
30 species of birds is the Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana).
It is easy to transplant to your yard as long as it
is dormant, which means in the spring prior to leaf
out or in the fall as the leaves have fallen.
Are you hoping to attract some of the numerous hummingbirds
that frequent the Brainerd Lakes area during the late
spring, summer and early fall? Here is a list of the
perennials that has been used with great success. There
are a number of Bee Balms that produce remarkable results.
Brainerd area favorites include Gardenview Scarlet Bee
Balm (Monarda Gardenview Scarlet) and Petite
Wonder Bee Balm (Monarda Petite Wonder).
Another hummingbird favorite is Elfin Pink Penstemon
(Penstemon Elfin Pink). Believe it or not
there is a hosta that attracts hummingbirds well, the
Honeybells Hosta (Hosta Honeybells).
For a little variety try the climbing vine, Dropmore
Scarlet Honeysuckle (Lonicera x brownie Dropmore
Scarlet). It is one of the first plants to leaf
out in the spring and blooms all summer. There is also
an annual that when mass planted is a magnate for hummingbirds,
Lady in Red Salvia (Salvia coccinea). It has a much
finer bloom than most Salvias and a bonus is that it
self-seeds quite well.
Coneflowers are excellent for attracting goldfinches
and siskins in late October and November. You are likely
to see dozens of goldfinches feeding on the seeds of
the spent blooms. There are may varieties of coneflowers
and they come in both purple and white colors. Think
of including any of the following varieties in your
Brainerd Lakes Country landscape to entice late fall
feeding: Bright Star Coneflower (Echinacea Bright
Star) and Kims Knee High Coneflower (Echinacea
Kims Knee High).
Common sunflowers work wonders for attracting chickadees,
nuthatches, blue jays, woodpeckers, goldfinches and
pine siskins once the seed heads have matured. This
sun loving annual is a natural for providing food for
If you have Red Oaks (Acer rubrum) on your property
be sure to protect them, as they are great for blue
jays and woodpeckers because of their acorns. An added
benefit is that they attract flying squirrels by night.
Plants for nesting and to provide cover and protection
are equally important. Consider planting a mass of claveys
Dwarf Honeysuckle (Lonicera x Claveys Dwarf).
These will mature into bushy plants and can make a nice
hedge. This will provide cover and protection for juncos,
the white throated sparrow, cardinals, chipping sparrows
and many others that feed on the ground.
Another great plant for cover is the Balsam Fir (Abies
balsamea). These grow fairly quickly and are quite dense
making perfect nesting areas for chipping sparrows and
Resist the urge to cut down old and dying trees
especially oaks, quaking aspens and jack pines
as bugs burrow beneath the bark and provide great feeding
opportunities for several species of birds. These old
trees also provide nesting sites for birds (such as
woodpeckers and nuthatches) that like to burrow into
trees to carve out their nests.
Start slowly by adding a few plants and before you
know it, your Brainerd Lakes Country home will become
a backyard haven for birds of all shapes and sizes.