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Native Plants that Attract Birds & Small Mammals

Source of information:  Tree of Life Wholesale Nursery
33201 Ortega Hwy. – PO Box 736 – San Juan Capistrano, CA 92693 – (949) 728-0685


Big Leaf Maple – Acer macrophyllum
Large deciduous tree (too large for most home gardens, but ideal for parks or nature centers)
Seeds, buds & flowers eaten by House Finches, Goldfinches, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and other seed eating birds.

White Alder – Alnus rhombifolia
Large, fast growing deciduous riparian tree.
Seeds eaten by various Finches, particularly Goldfinches.

Western Sycamore – Platanus racemosa
Large riparian tree.
Seeds eaten by various finch species.  Mature trees provide nest sites for raptors and cavity nesting birds.

Fremont Cottonwood – Populus fremontii
Large native tree in riparian habitats.
Flower buds eaten by  numerous birds.  Raptor nest sites.

Coast Live Oak – Quercus agrifolia
As a mature tree, it is one of the most valuable for wildlife.  Acorns are eaten by a wide variety of birds and mammals.  Nesting substrate for many bird species large and small. Foraging habitat for many insect eating birds.

California Bay Laurel  –  Umbellulariacalifornica
Good tall shrub to tree size depending upon conditions.

Willow –  Salix spp.
Important  wildlife plant in wetland habitats for general cover and nest sites.  Flowers and buds eaten by various finches.  Foraging habitat for insect eating birds.

Pacific Wax Myrtle – Yrica californica
Large attractive fragrant tree.  Waxy coated fruit and its seed eaten by variety of birds.

Pine – Pinus spp.
Seeds eaten by many birds and mammals.  Mature trees provide shelter and nest sites.


Manzanita – Arctostaphylos spp.
A  very large variety of short to medium height shrubs are available for general wildlife cover.  Fruit eaten by birds and mammals.  Hummingbirds use flowers.

Coyote Brush – Baccharispilularis consanguinea
Excellent cover plant, dense foliage.

Ceanothus – Ceanothus spp.
Some of our most attractive cultivated shrubs providing good general wildlife cover.

Mountain Mahogany – Cercocarpus betuloides
San Diego Mountain Mahogany – Cercocarpus minutiflorus
Two important chaparral plants for good general wildlife cover.  Seed eaten by birds and small mammals.

Island Bush Snapdragon – Galvezia speciosa
Good low cover. Showy accent plant in small clumps. Hummingbirds use red  tubular flowers.

Toyon  – Heteromeles arbutifolia
Outstanding wildlife plant and slope stabilizer.  General tall shrub cover.  Fruits eaten by many birds including California Quail, Northern Mockingbird, American Robin, Cedar Waxwing, Western Bluebird, and Black-headed Grosbeak.

Mesquite – Prosopis juliflora var. torreyana
Deep rooted deciduous shrub with attractive yellow flowers.  Seeds eaten by birds and small mammals.

Hollyleaf Cherry – Prunusillicifolia
Good for general tal cover.  Lush green growth, very drought tolerant, showy white flower clusters and attractive fruits eaten by birds and mammals.

Coffeeberry  – Rhamnuscalifornica
Hollyleaf Redberry  – Rhamnuscroceailicifolia
Good for tall shrub cover.  Many birds eat fruit.

Lemonadeberry  –  Rhusintegrifolia
One of the best and most dependable species for general wildlife cover including bird nesting substrate.  Birds eat the fruit.  Deep network of fleshy roots provides good slope stabilization.

Laurel Sumac – Rhuslaurina
Great tall shrub cover.  Many bird species nest in it.  Many birds eat its
flower buds and fruit.

Mexican Elderberry – Sambucamexicana
Outstanding wildlife shrub.  Good as cover.  Fruit eaten by a very long list of birds & mammals.

California Fuschia – Zauschneriacalifornica
Great small accent shrub. Profuse bloomer.  Bright  red flowers.  A Hummingbird favorite.

Coastal Quail Brush – Atriplex lentiformisssp.breweri
Excellent conservation plan, tolerates poor soil.   Seeds eaten by small mammals and birds.  Also serves as important cover plant providing general protection and nest sites for low nesting birds.

Currents & Gooseberries – Ribesspp.
Several species of low to medium shrubs.  Do well in shade.  Attractive fruits eaten by many birds and mammals.  Hummingbirds use flowers of Ribes malvaceum, R. speciosum, and R. sanguineum.

SubShrubs & Other Small Plants:

Red Columbine – Aquilegia formosa var. truncata
Excellent  border plant for woodland effect.  Attracts hummingbirds which serve as its primary pollinator.

California Encelia – Encelia californica
Easy, fast growing subshrub.  Seeds eaten by many birds and small mammals.

California Buckwheat – Eriogonum fasciculatum
Good low cover. Seeds eaten by birds and small mammals.

Bladderpod – Isomeris arborea
Very drought tolerant.  Flowers most of year.  Seeds eaten by finches, sparrows, and doves.  Bright yellow flowers occasionally visited by hummingbirds.

Heart-leaved Penstemon – Keckiella cordifolia
Vining shrub, good in shade. Flashy red flowers.  Hummingbirds.

Chaparral Honeysuckle – Lonicera subspicata
Deciduous vining shrub with attractive orange berries eaten by many birds.

Scarlet Monkey Flower – Mimulus cardinalis
Low, herbaceous perennial spreading readily by underground root stocks.  Good in partial shade. Red flowers attract hummingbirds.

Bush Monkey Flower – Mimulus longiflorus
Red Bush Monkey Flower – Mimuluspuniceus
Good mixed in with low shrub cover.  Profuse bloomers. Hummingbirds.

Scarlet Bugler – Penstemon centranthifolius
Small herbaceous perennial, showy in bloom. Hummingbirds attracted to its red tubular flowers.

Showy Penstemon – Penstemon spectabillis
Tall flower spikes, abundant bloom, lavendar-purple flowers used occasionally by hummingbirds.

California Wild Rose – Rosa californica
Outstanding for low shrub cover. Forms protective thickets for nesting birds.

California Blackberry – Rubus ursinus
Great protective cover. Fruits eaten by many birds and mammals.

Sages  – Salvia spp.
Many good low shrub cover species. Seeds eaten by birds and mammals. Hummingbirds visit Salvia mellifera, S. apiana, S. greggii, and S. clevelandii.

Purple Nightshade – Solanum xantii
White Nightshade – Solanum douglasii
Low shrubs. Fruit eaten by many birds and mammals.

Wooly Blue Curls – Trichostema lanatum
Beautiful accent shrub. Showy, profuse bloomer. Heavily used by Hummingbirds.

Desert Grape – Vitis girdiana
Great cover for shelter and bird nest sites. Fruit eaten by long list of birds and mammals.