9 Best Fruit Trees for Birds

A bird-friendly garden should incorporate trees that provide fruits and berries. Fruit-producing trees will bring a wide range of native birds to your garden. They maintain year-round interest and supplement bird feeders as a natural food source. Native trees are hosts to insects such as butterflies and moth caterpillars, which are protein-rich food for birds. Plant these 9 fruit trees to bring birds to your garden:

1. Southern Crabapple (Malus angustifolia)

Crabapple (Malus)
Photo by niehoff on Flickr

This is a deciduous tree native to North America. It grows naturally in woodland areas.

The tree is a source of food for many bird species. Southern crabapple produces small gold or green fruits in late summer which are a nutritious food source for birds and other small animals.

The fruits are favored by deer. The plant is characterized by showy pink leaves that bloom during the spring. It has a dark brown or gray bark with scaly ridges. The tree is a good addition to a butterfly garden or meadow. It matures at 20-30ft high. Southern crabapples are generally low maintenance and do not require regular pruning. 

  • Requires full or partial sunlight, ideally 6 hours daily. 
  • Grows well in loamy, acidic or neutral, well-drained soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 4-9. 

2. Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)
Plant Image Library/Flickr

This deciduous tree native to America is naturally found on rocky woodlands, riverbanks, swampy areas, and wooded slopes. It is characterized by fragrant white flowers that bloom during spring.

They are followed by red or purple berries that appear in late summer and fall. They are a good source of food for birds, especially through the winter months. Its green foliage turns to gold, orange or red during the fall.

Downy serviceberry reaches a height of 15-25ft and spreads 10-15ft. It can be grown along garden borders, as a specimen tree, or along hedges. 

  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Grows well in a variety of soil types. Acidic or neutral, well-drained, moist soils are best. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 4-9. 

3. Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)

Red Mulberry (Morus rubra)
Photo by kami rao on Flickr

A medium-sized deciduous tree native to America. It is characterized by a short trunk and rounded crown. It has dark green foliage of lobed leaves with hairy undersides. The leaves turn yellow during the fall.

Red mulberry produces flowers that bloom during the spring. The tree is dioecious, i.e., has male and female parts on different plants. The flowers give way to red or purple fruits in the fall.

They are a favorite food for birds. The fruits can also be used to make beverages, jellies, wines, or jams. It propagates by seeds or cuttings. Red mulberry matures at 30-50ft high and 30-40ft wide. 

  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade. It is drought tolerant. 
  • Thrives in rich, wet, well-drained soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 4-10. 

4. Common Hackberry (Celtic occidentalis)

Common Hackberry (Celtic occidentalis)
Andrey Zharkikh/Flickr

This tall and sturdy deciduous tree is characterized by an open crown at full maturity. It is native to North America. The dark green foliage turns yellow during the fall.

In the spring, green flowers appear in clusters and attract bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies. They give way to fleshy sweet berries in the fall that persist through the winter.

They are a favorite food for woodpeckers, quail, and cedar waxwings. The bark has conspicuous, protruding ridges that add color and interest to your winter landscape. The tree matures at 40-60ft high. It needs minimal pruning during its dormant periods.

  • Requires full sunlight and partial shade. Tolerates dry conditions. 
  • Thrives in humus-rich, moist, well-drained soils. It can grow in areas that experience periodic flooding, or have alkaline soils. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 2-9. 

5. Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)

Madrone (Arbutus menziesii)
John Rusk/Flickr

This evergreen tree occurs naturally in Southern California. It has dark green leaves, which maintain their color throughout the year. The tree produces clusters of white, urn-shaped flowers during the spring.

They attract hummingbirds and other pollinators to feed on the nectar. Red-orange fruits follow in the fall and retain their color through the winter months. They are a nutritious food source for birds.

Madrone matures at 20-50ft tall and is a good specimen plant. It is relatively free of pests and diseases but vulnerable to leaf spot and aphids. Propagates by seeds or softwood cuttings. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Grows well in acidic, wet, well-drained soils. It is highly drought tolerant once it matures. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 7-9. 

6. Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)

Black Hawthorn (Crataegus douglasii)
Gary Chang/Flickr

A small deciduous tree native to North America. It has dark green, leathery, oval, serrated leaves that turn orange, yellow, or red in the fall before dropping to the ground. White flowers appear in clusters during the spring.

They bring pollinators, butterflies, and moths to your garden. They give way to red fruits that ripen in late summer. These fruits will remain on the tree through fall and winter and are eaten by native birds.

Black hawthorn matures at 10-25ft tall and is perfect as a specimen tree or for erosion control. It is low maintenance, needing minimal pruning just before autumn. It propagates by seeds. 

  • Requires full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Thrives in moist, well-drained soils. Drought tolerant. 
  • USDA hardiness zones 3-9. 

7. Rough-leaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii)

Rough-leaf Dogwood (Cornus drummondii)
F. D. Richards/Flickr

A deciduous tree maturing at 6-15ft tall and wide. It is native to North America. It is characterized by oval leaves which turn purple or scarlet in the fall. Dogwood produces clusters of creamy yellow flowers in the spring.

They are nectar-rich and attract butterflies and pollinators to your garden. They are followed by fleshy, round white berries in late summer that are a favorite food for songbirds. The tree is good for windbreaks, orchards, and as a screen plant. It propagates by seed or cuttings and has high resistance to pests and diseases. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. 
  • Grows well in average moisture, acidic or neutral, well-drained soils. Tolerates poor soils.
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-8. 

8. American Holly (Ilex opaca)

American Holly (Ilex opaca)
Photo by Paul VanDerWerf on Flickr

An evergreen tree native to North America. It is characterized by leathery dark green leaves on dioecious plants. In spring, it produces green-white blooms that attract pollinators. They are followed by bright red berries in the fall which thrushes, Blackbirds, redwings and fieldfares eat.

They persist into the winter and maintain year-round interest in your garden. American holly matures at 15-30ft high. It is slow growing and propagates by seed or stem cuttings. It is toxic to horses, cats, and dogs.

  • Grows well in full sunlight or partial shade.
  • Thrives in average moisture, well-drained, acidic soils.
  • USDA hardiness zones 5-10.

9. White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

White Ash (Fraxinus americana)

A large deciduous tree native to North America. It has dark green pinnate leaves which turn yellow or reddish-purple in the fall. Purple male and female flowers bloom in the spring, followed by fruits that ripen in the fall.

They are a favorite food for birds throughout the winter. The tree is dioecious. It matures at 60-80ft and is perfect as a specimen plant. It is susceptible to the emerald ash borer, which kills the tree within 5 years. 

  • Thrives in full sunlight.
  • Grows well in organically rich, wet, well-drained, loamy soils. It becomes drought tolerant when it matures, 
  • USDA hardiness zones 3-9. 

Keep birds interested in your garden by planting the above fruit trees. These trees produce fruit for long periods of the year and will help sustain the local bird population through the tough winter months. Plant a variety of trees to ensure that produce berries and flowers at different times to ensure optimum benefits for the native birds.