In my back yard, I love watching cardinals during the winter months. Colorful and musical, this hardy songbird won't leave home just because it gets a little cold. Our region is home to many permanent resident birds, meaning they are present throughout the year: woodpeckers, finches, pine siskin, redpoll, tit, bluebird, grossbeak, nuthatch, sparrow, crows, Blue jay, cardinal, junco, morning doves, owls, hawks and even robins.

Harsh winters means birds must eat more food to stay alive, and shorter days mean they have less time to search for it. It’s a very good time to give them a hand by planting shrubs that hold their fruit well into the cold months. Not only are fruits high in carbohydrates, which allow birds to rapidly refuel, but the berries contain large amounts of antioxidants. These chemicals help alleviate the physical stress birds suffer when they burn fat during cold winter nights.

For fall berries, viburnums are an excellent choice, especially native viburnums, such as V. lentago, V. dentatum, V. trilobum. You can find these listed in catalogs under the common names: Nannyberry, Redwing, Wentworth, Northern Burgundy, Compact American and Blue Muffin.

Another shrub I recommend is Winterberry. There must be at least one male winterberry in the vicinity for the female plants to bear fruit.

Other shrubs to consider are: serviceberry (Regent), red and black chokeberry (Erecta, Autumn Magic, Ground Hog, Iroquois Beauty, Low Scape Mound), sumac, snowberry (Candy, Galaxy and White), and American Wahoo.

With natural areas becoming more and more fragmented, it is especially important for people to plant for the birds. What you put in your yard does matter.