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Kim Eierman

Kim Eierman

Founder of EcoBeneficial!

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Robin_Holly_john Flannery

Bird-Friendly Plants for Cape Cod?

I live one mile from the ocean on Cape Cod and would like to know what to plant to attract the greatest variety of birds.  There is a lot of lawn around me and some trees, and ornamental foundation shrubs here and there.  It looks more suburban than coastal scrub.


Thanks for your question. Conditions on the seashore and areas close-by, can be very tough on plants that are not adapted to the windy conditions and challenging soils, not to mention the salt spray.  If you were right on the seashore, there would be very few woody plants that you could grow.  As you are a mile away from the shore with a more protected condition, you will be able to grow a wider array of plants.

Make sure to include layers in your landscape including trees, shrubs, flowering perennials and grasses. Diverse planting is optimal for the health of your ecosystem.  Your goal is to offer cover (especially in winter), nesting sites, natural food sources for birds, and a clean, year-round, fresh water source.

Here are some high-value bird plants, native to your area, that you might consider planting:


Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana)

Black Cherry (Prunus serotina)

American Holly (Ilex opaca) dioecious – get male and female plants

White Oak (Quercus alba)


Virginia Creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Beach Plum (Prunus maritima)

Northern Bayberry (Morella pensylvanica)

Downy Serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea)

Shadbush (Amelanchier canadensis)

Black Chokeberry (Photinia melanocarpa)

Inkberry (Ilex glabra) dioecious – get male and female plants

Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) dioecious – get male and female plants

Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium) – needs acidic soil with soil pH < 5.5

Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) needs acidic soil with soil pH < 5.5

Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana)

Arrowwood Viburnum (Viburnum dentatum)

Nanny Berry (Viburnum lentago)


Black Huckleberry (Gaylussacia baccata)

Bearberry (Arctostaphylos uva-ursi)


Big Bluestem (Andropogon gerardii)

Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Indian Grass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum)

Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Showy Aster (Eurybia spectabilis)

Pink Tickseed (Coreopsis rosea)


Happy planting!  from Kim Eierman at EcoBeneficial!

Photo:  Robin devouring holly berries
Photo credit: John Flannery_Flickr


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