Our family enjoys watching birds from our windows, and we want to landscape with the best plants to attract them around our home. What do you suggest? S.C., Tiverton, RI
A wide range of trees and shrubs produce fruit that persists and appeals to birds. Among the favorites throughout New England are blueberry (Vaccinium), evergreen and deciduous holly (Ilex), flowering crab apple (Malus), viburnum, roses, chokeberry (Aronia), and shadbush (Amelanchier). While several other species provide lots of food for birds, stay away from invasives such as Japanese barberry (Berberis thunbergii), Orien-tal bittersweet (Celastrus orbiculatus), multiflora rose, or burning bush (Euonymus alatus). These plants can be spread by birds into natural areas and become dominant, all too quickly forcing out more desirable native plants.
As you travel around your area, try to take note of those plants that retain their berries and attract wildlife — some of these could be appropriate for your yard. A public park or botanical garden can be instructive because they often label their plants, and of course, your local garden center can make expert recommendations.