Planting a Holly Tree to Attract Birds

Depending on your location, planting a holly tree or shrub is an excellent way to attract a variety of birds. Choose a tree or shrub that is native to your location and will work well within the space you have available.

Holly Trees and Shrubs

The following holly trees and shrubs are native to North America. Native plants provide optimal food and shelter for birds and various species of wildlife and ultimately survive better than imported plant species.

  • American Holly, Ilex Opaca, is the most easily identified holly tree with it’s thorny leaves and bright red berries, and can grow up to 40 feet.
  • Deciduous Holly, Ilex Decidua, is a shrub that can reach heights of up to 20 feet.
  • Mountain Holly, Ilex Montana, a shrub to a tree, reaches heights between 20 and 40 feet.
  • Winterberry Holly, Ilex verticillata, is a shrub that reaches heights between 10 to 15 feet.

Choosing a Holly Tree

Choose a holly tree or shrub based on your location and the amount of space you have available. If you have a very small space a shrub will work best. For larger spaces, holly trees such as American Holly or Mountain Holly are available. Check with your local garden center to be certain that you are in the correct growing zone for your holly tree.


Birds consume the bright red berries on the holly bush, which are poisonous to other species, including humans. In addition to acting as a food source the evergreen holly tree also provides year round shelter and cover from predators.

Bird Species

The types of birds that will be attracted to the holly tree will vary according to location. Cedar waxwings, robins and bluebirds are just a few that will enjoy the benefits of the holly tree.