Bird-friendly Plants

A robin enjoying pagoda dogwood berries
A robin enjoying pagoda dogwood berries

As part of our “Bird-friendly Plants of the Year” project, HGCNY and Onondaga Audubon create a “Birdy Dozen” list of native plants each year, which is added to the previous years’ lists.

Below are the plants we’ve selected for each year so far. The initial lists feature more herbaceous plants than woodies, but eventually — when we can give growers enough advance notice — we’ll include more woody shrubs and trees, which are so important for birds.

Note that many plants have multiple common names. Common names may also apply to different plants. Good reasons for learning the scientific names so you are getting the plant you intend to get.

The term “dioecious” means that a male is required to pollinate females, the plants that produce berries. The leaves of both males and females, however, support butterfly and moth caterpillars.

2017 Birdy Dozen


Schizachyrium scoparium – Little bluestem


Actaea racemosa (Syn. Cimicifuga racemosa) – Black cohosh

Asclepias incarnata – Swamp milkweed

Chelone glabra – White turtlehead

Eupatorium perfoliatum – Common boneset

Monarda didyma – Oswego tea

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (Syn: Aster novae-angliae) – New England aster


Rubus odoratus – Purple flowering raspberry


Cornus alternifolia – Pagoda dogwood

Quercus rubra – Red oak

For a description of the 2017 plants:  page 1  page 2

For a planting guide

2018 Birdy Dozen


Sorghastrum nutans – Indian grass


Agastache foeniculum – Anise hyssop, Blue giant hyssop

Aster divaricatus (Syn: Eurybia divaricata)  – White wood aster

Liatris spicata – Blazing star, Dense gayfeather, Spiked blazing star, Dense blazing star

Rudbeckia laciniata – Cutleaf coneflower, Green-head coneflower, Tall coneflower

Solidago caesia – Bluestem goldenrod,  Wreath goldenrod


Lonicera sempervirens – Coral honeysuckle, Honeysuckle vine, Trumpet honeysuckle


Aronia melanocarpa (Syn: Photinia melanocarpa, Pyrus melanocarpa) – Black chokeberry

Cornus racemosa – Gray dogwood, Panicled dogwood

Sambucus canadensis (Syn: Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis) – American black elderberry, Common elder

Dioecious shrubs

Ilex verticillata – Winterberry (cultivar OK), Common winterberry

Deciduous trees

Betula lenta – Sweet birch, Black birch

2019 Birdy Dozen


Panicum virgatum – Switch grass

Sporobolus heterolepsis – Prairie dropseed


Aquilegia canadensis – Wild columbine, Red columbine

Helianthus divaricatus – Woodland sunflower

Solidago rugosa – Rough goldenrod, Rough-stemmed goldenrod, Wrinkle-leaf goldenrod

Vernonia noveboracensis – New York ironweed


Parthenocissus quinquefolia – Virginia creeper, Woodbine


Prunus virginiana – American chokecherry, Chokecherry

Salix discolor – Pussy willow

Dioecious shrubs

Lindera benzoin – Spicebush, Northern spicebush


 Juniperus virginiana – Eastern red cedar

Deciduous trees

Amelanchier arborea – Downy serviceberry, Common shadbush