Wildlife Values of Conservation Trees and Shrubs

Wildlife Values of Conservation Trees and Shrubs


CARAGANA (SIBERIAN PEASHRUB) (Caragana arborescens): Used for nesting by several songbirds and the seeds are occasionally eaten. Not a preferred food for browsing animals. It provides good cover. (Introduced from Siberia).

COTONEASTER (Cotoneaster acutifolia): It provides roosting and loafing cover for numerous songbirds and game birds, and some utilize the fruits for food (esp. catbird, mockingbird, and purple finch). Not a preferred browse for animals. (Introduced from northern China).

HONEYSUCKLE (Lonicera tatarica): This provides fruit, which is eaten by several songbirds. It also provides some cover for both bird and animal species but has little value as a browse source.

Preferred nesting site for many songbirds. Prefers open, moist areas; good in fence rows. It provides food for songbirds, rabbits, quail, and turkeys. (Introduced from southern Siberia).

CHOKECHERRY (Prunus virginiana): All parts of the plant have some benefit to wildlife for winter food, but most important during summer and fall. Among the most important plants for wildlife cover and food.

The shrubby, thicket-forming growth provides cover for songbird nesting, loafing, and roosting, and animal loafing and bedding. The fruit and foliage are relished by a great number of wildlife species, including songbirds, upland game birds, rodents and other small mammals, bears, and whitetail and mule deer. (It is Native to most of North America).

COMMON LILAC (Syringa vulgaris): Because of root suckers, it provides high-quality cover for numerous species of birds and animals. Little value for fruit or browses. (Introduced from Eastern Europe).

NATIVE (AMERICAN) PLUM (Prunus americana): Highly important as wildlife cover and food. The thorny, suckering growth when protected forms a thicket valuable for bird nesting, loafing, and roosting, and animal loafing and bedding.

Twigs and foliage provide a highly preferred browse for whitetail and mule deer. Foxes are chief consumers of fruit. (Native over eastern two-thirds of central North America, including eastern Colorado).

SKUNKBUSH SUMAC (QUAILBUSH) (Rhus trilobata): Prefers moist, sunny, open areas, but will grow in dry locations. Good in the fence row, along roads, and canal/stream edges. Important fall and winter food for songbirds, woodpeckers, and deer. Emergency winter food for game birds. Fruit and buds are stapled food for sharp-tailed grouse. A good source of vitamin A.

Bark and twigs are eaten by rabbits, rodents, and deer. Provides high-quality roosting and loafing cover for many bird species and is a preferred nest site for many thicket-nesting birds. (Native to western North America).

WESTERN SAND CHERRY (BESSEY CHERRY) (Prunus besseyi): Provides preferred fruit for numerous songbirds. Growth form creates good roosting and loafing cover for songbirds and game birds, and nesting cover for songbirds. Occasionally browsed by deer. Short-lived; notable decline in vigor after 5 years. (Native to northern Great Plains, including northeastern Colorado).

NANKING CHERRY (Prunus tomentosa): Utilized by a few songbirds as nesting cover and produces a fruit that is relished by many songbirds. Preferred browse for rabbits, other rodents, white-tailed deer, and mule deer. (Introduced, native to China and Japan).

EUROPEAN SAGE (Artemesia abrotanum): Good in semi-arid sites. Better for cover than for food, but is eaten by antelope, mule deer, and small mammals.

WOODS ROSE (Rosa woodsii): Good in fencerows, along roads, and borders for windbreaks. Especially good food during bad winter weather. Hips high in vitamin C. Important food to upland game birds and deer and excellent nesting/escape cover for songbirds and game birds. (Native to much of North America).

SILVER BUFFALOBERRY (Shepherdia argentea): Will sucker like native plum and form thickets. Thorny thickets create an ideal cover for numerous bird and animal species. Preferred nesting site for many songbirds. Some birds eat the fruit although it is not relished by a wide variety of species. (Native to northwestern North America, including Colorado).

GOLDEN CURRANT (Ribes aureum): Good cover for birds and small mammals. Good palatability to game animals. Preferred roosting, loafing, or nesting cover for several songbirds and has general use by many birds for food. A preferred browse of mule deer. (Native to western North America).

SASKATOON SERVICEBERRY (JUNEBERRY) (Amelanchier alnifolia): Will grow in dry, rocky areas. A high-quality plant for wildlife cover and food. Songbirds and game birds seek the sweet, juicy berries in early summer.

Squirrels, rodents, and bears also eat fruit. Whitetail and mule deer browse twigs and foliage extensively. The shrubby growth provides cover for bird nesting, loafing, and roosting, and animal loafing and bedding. (Native to western North America).

FOURWING SALTBUSH (Atriplex canescens): Provides cover and food for songbirds and small mammals as well as forage for antelope, whitetail deer, and mule deer. A San Miguel County landowner reports that elk heavily utilizes the four-wing saltbush there as winter and spring browse, a large herd removing as much as a meter’s growth over winter. (Native to the western U.S.)

COYOTE (SANDBAR) WILLOW (Salix exigua Nutt.): Coyote and other varieties of riparian willows are very important as browse and cover for the big game, especially in fall and winter. Also important as food and cover for birds in winter, particularly ptarmigan. Especially valuable along trout streams as shade and cover, and as a secondary food source for beaver. (Native to North America).

GAMBEL OAK (Quercus gambeli): Also called shrub oak and oak brush. Very important for mast, browse, and cover. Acorns are eaten by many species, especially jays, wild turkey, squirrels, and bears. Important winter browse and mast for deer, bighorn sheep, and elk. (Native to parts of southwestern U.S., including Colorado, and northern Mexico).

ANTELOPE BITTERBRUSH (Purshia tridentata): Palatable and a very important browse for deer, elk, antelope, and livestock, except horses. Other species, such as rabbits and grouse, also utilize. (Native to western North America).

TRUE MOUNTAIN MAHOGANY (Cercocarpus montanus): Very important browse species for all big game ungulates and livestock. Provides cover and food (seeds) for small game birds and mammals. (Native to western North America).

NEW MEXICO FORESTIERA (Forestiera neomexicana): Taken sparingly by deer, almost unpalatable to livestock. Fruits are eaten by quail and songbirds. (Native to the southwestern U.S., including southwest Colorado).


GREEN ASH (Fraxinus pennsylvanica var. lanceolata): Most common on prairie, preferring moist areas. Of moderate importance to wildlife. The winged seeds (samaras) are eaten by several birds and mammals including wild turkeys and rodents.

Whitetail and mule deer browse the twigs and foliage. The biggest benefit is shade. (Native to eastern North America, including watercourses in eastern Colorado).

HONEYLOCUST (Gleditsia triacanthos var. inermis): Has limited wildlife use but provides some songbird cover and is eaten by cottontail rabbit, squirrels, and deer. (Native to central U.S.)

BLACK LOCUST (Robinia pseudoacacia): Seed is eaten by bobwhite quail and squirrel. (Native to parts of the eastern half of the U.S.)

SIBERIAN (CHINESE) ELM (Ulmus pumila): Little value as a food source for game birds or mammals. Not sought by birds or mammals as a source of quality browse or cover, although it is used for nesting (esp. English sparrows and orioles). Seeds are eaten by songbirds, game birds, and rodents. (Introduced, native to northern China and eastern Siberia).

COTTONWOOD: HYBRID AND NARROWLEAF (Populus deltoides var. noreaster, Populus angustifolia): Need moist areas. Buds/catkins are good food in winter and early spring. Bark, twigs, and leaves are eaten by rodents, rabbits, deer, beaver, and porcupines.

It provides forage for browsing wildlife such as whitetail and mule deer up through the sapling stage. Provide important nesting and roosting habitat for various species of birds. (Hybrid native to eastern North America, narrow-leaf native to Rocky Mountain region of North America).

GOLDEN WILLOW (Salix alba var. vitellina): Moist, fertile sites needed. Good browse food for the big game, rabbits, and beaver. It provides forage for browsing wildlife such as whitetail and mule deer through the sapling stage. It provides important nesting and roosting habitat for various species of birds. (Introduced, native to Europe, North Africa, and Central Asia).

HACKBERRY (Celtis occidentalis): Fruit is important winter food for songbirds (esp. waxwings, sapsuckers, mockingbirds, and robins). Important for shade. About 45 wildlife species eat fruit, and deer browse on twigs and leaves. (Native to the eastern United States, including plains of eastern Colorado).

RUSSIAN OLIVE (Elaeagnus angustifolia): Spreads quite well on its own (birds and deer distribute seed). Tolerates alkaline soil and hardy during drought. Berries are a choice food for many birds and important winter food for waxwings, grosbeaks, and robins.

Not a preferred food for browsing animals. Fairly low overall wildlife value – has been overrated in the past. Tends to take over riparian areas, so avoid planting in. (Introduced from Eurasia).

LOMBARDY POPLAR (Populus nigra var. italica): Limited wildlife value, some songbirds use for nesting (especially English sparrows). (Introduced from Europe).

ASPEN (Populus tremuloides): Very important browse in many areas for snowshoe hare, deer, and elk. Deer avidly take fallen leaves in fall and early winter. Important food and building material for beaver. Grouse depend on buds for winter food. (Native to North America).

BUR OAK (Quercus macrocarpa): Very important to wildlife. Acorns are very (possibly most) important wildlife food, especially in winter. Almost 100 wildlife species use oak; quail, turkey, deer, bear, and squirrels are especially avid acorn eaters. Also, excellent wildlife cover. (Native to mid-western and northeastern U.S., and southeastern Canada).


PINE: AUSTRIAN, SCOTCH, PONDEROSA, PINON, LODGEPOLE, LIMBER, & BRISTLECONE  (Pinus nigra, P. sylvestris, P. ponderosa, P. edulis, P. contorta, P. flexilis, P. aristata): Pines are nearly as important as oaks. All parts of the tree are used and/or eaten. Pine seeds are especially important for food.

Bark harbors insects that woodpeckers, sapsuckers, and nuthatches eat. (Austrian and Scotch pine introduced from Europe; Ponderosa and lodgepole native to western North America; piñon native to western U.S. and northern Mexico; limber and bristlecone native to the western U.S.)

JUNIPER: EASTERN REDCEDAR & ROCKY MOUNTAIN (Juniperus virginiana, J. scopulorum): Some food value to songbirds. Important escape and nesting cover for songbirds and game birds. Use caution near apple trees, as juniper is the alternate host for apple rust. (Eastern redcedar native to central and eastern U.S., Rocky Mountain juniper native to the western U.S. and Canada).

SPRUCE: COLORADO BLUE & ENGELMANN (Picea pungens, P. engelmannii): Little food value. Provide excellent nesting, roosting, and winter cover for numerous small birds. Deer will browse on blue spruce although it is not a preferred forage plant. (Blue spruce is native to the Rocky Mountains of the U.S.; Engelmann spruce is native to the western U.S. and Canada).

DOUGLAS-FIR (Pseudotsuga menziesii): Seeds used by squirrels, rabbits, and other rodents. (Native to western North America).

WHITE FIR (Abies concolor): Prefer cool, moist sites. Moderate wildlife importance is mostly used for cover by mammals and game birds. Used for roosting and nesting by songbirds, seeds eaten by squirrels. (Native to western U.S. and Mexico). So these Wildlife Values of Conservation Trees and Shrubs are very important to know.

Wildlife Values of Conservation Trees and Shrubs
Wildlife Values of Conservation Trees and Shrubs

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