When the house was built a few years ago, I struggled to identify plants to add around the foundation. Being a Master Gardener, I had a lot of resources available to me. Since our house faces northwest, and we have a lot of woods surrounding us, I needed something that tolerates shade. I decided on planting a couple of holly bushes, one male and one female bush (in order to get berries, it is necessary to have both sexes of plants). Now that these bushes are maturing, the berry production has been profuse. Consequently, the bird activity has been high and has given me lots of photo opps. Here are a few of the species I've been able to capture:
The first species that took to my hollies was the Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos). This bird has been a frequent visitor to the holly bush for several years now:
The next visitor? A European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris). When these birds are captured in good lighting, the purple and green gloss really shines through the black coloration!
Still another frequent visitor to my hollies is the Northern Flicker, yellow-shafted variety (Colaptes auratus), often arriving in pairs:
I also had a few Eastern Bluebirds (Sialia sialis), which is our (Missouri's) state bird. They have been one of the most skittish of the birds visiting the holly bushes, so I only have a few images of these beauties.
And this next image of the bluebird, one of my favorites, was not on the holly bush, but was waiting in a nearby tree, till the holly bush was a bit less congested with bird activity!
A few Northern Cardinals occasionally come to the holly bushes, although they mostly come to the sunflower seed feeders on my covered front porch:
And one new visitor was the White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis):
Not to be outdone, a male House Sparrow (Passer domesticus) showed up:
And this next image was shot early in January. Apparently, our up-and-down temperatures this winter have created a confusion in our birds ... this female House Sparrow showed up with a twig ... isn't it a bit early to start nesting!
And this unidentified bird showed up one day. I certainly appreciate any identification help with this one. My guess would be a Wood Thrush (Hylocichia mustelina):
I think you will agree that the holly bush is a wonderful bird attractant in the winter. But the shrub can be a wonderful landscape plant, sans birds! Here are a couple of images of one of my holly bushes, in the dead of winter:
In conclusion, if you are doing some landscaping and need a good bird attractant, consider using one my bird magnets, the Holly! And if you want to make the best of everything, plant it in front of a window and bird all winter, from the comfort of your own home ... I did and it sure is nice!
Post authored by Jim Braswell of Show-Me Nature Photography