Birds bring beauty and sound to a garden. It's nice to put out bird feeders with seed and suet to attract birds to your yard and garden. But birds still like to forage and find their own food and it's especially important to have food for them to find, when the feeders are empty. There are many wonderful trees and shrubs with fruits and berries in the fall and winter months. Less often talked about are the common garden flowers with seeds that most birds seem to gobble up. Let the last blooms stay on these plants throughout the winter and wait until spring to cut them back. Along with nourishment, many provide shelter and nesting material, too.
There are many asters and some do better in certain regions, but they all attract some type of bird, among them: cardinals, chickadees, goldfinches, indigo buntings, nuthatches, sparrows, towhees.
Like coneflowers, black-eyed Susans are a prairie garden staple and can remain standing through most of the winter. Rsome of the birds feasting on rudbeckia seeds will be: American goldfinches, chickadees, cardinals, nuthatches, sparrows, and towhees.
Coneflowers with sturdy stems can remain standing long into the snowiest winter. Among the birds seen pecking at coneflowers are the American goldfinch and the pine siskin.
If you thought all that cheerful yellow throughout the summer was the only contribution your Coreopsis plants make to your garden, watch for the songbirds its seeds will attract.
5. Globe Thistle
Globe Thistle, unlike the nyjar thistle used in bird seed mixes, is an attractive plant and not usually aggressive. Its seeds are especially popular with goldfinches.
6. Goldenrod (Soladago)
Goldenrod packs a double punch. Several birds, like finches, pine siskins, yellow-rumped warblers, indigo buntings, will munch on its seeds. But it’s also a popular overwintering site for insects. So the birds get a well balanced meal from one plant.
Birds love Joe Pye Weed seeds to eat as well as to use the fluff for building warm nests. Look for chickadees, wrens, titmice and juncos
We usually keep sedum up for winter interest. It seems to start re-growing as soon as the old leaves die. But even the ground hugging sedum varieties are popular with pretty much all types of seed eaters.
9. Silphium (Cup Plant, Prairie Dock, Compass Plant)
This genus of tall, daisy-like flowers can be quite a sight in the garden when the flowers bloom way at the top of their 6 - 8' stems. But birds like finches prefer them as their seeds are drying out.